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‘On Friday nights, we always do the lighting of the candles; I love doing it’

TJI Pick
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Published: 6 April 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

Alan Finkel, Australia’s former Chief Scientist, on the simple family pleasures he gets from Shabbat dinner and why the only god he will ever have is science

ARE YOU A RELIGIOUS MAN? I’m not, unless you take science, humanism or atheism as a religion. But I qualify that by saying I’m Jewish and proud of it.

On Friday nights, we always do the lighting of the candles, drinking of the sacramental kiddush wine and saying of a few prayers over the challah – the bread. You sing the song to welcome the Sabbath Queen, bless your children, then you eat a lot of food. I love doing it, and it’s an excuse to bring our kids home.

It’s a cultural connection to my father, and to other Jews around the world. But if I have a god, it’s the god of science.

Alan Finkel: ‘Never let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of the very good’ (SMH)

Photo: Alan Finkel (Simon Schluter)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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