Rockin’ the Dreidel


Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes is going to be performing in a Hannukah concert.

Scottish-born Australian rock icon Jimmy Barnes announced a special one-off performance, but fans should leave their cheap wine and three-day growth at home.

Barnes, who recently reformed with Cold Chisel for the second time since it disbanded in 1983, will perform at the Great Synagogue in Sydney for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Barnes, who is not Jewish, said he initially heard the offer through a mutual friend he shares with Great Synagogue Rabbi Mendel Kastel.

“I’m kind of sitting there thinking ‘yeah, yeah’, and took it as a joke,” Barnes told reporters in Sydney.

“The next thing I get a phone call from the rabbi and it’s like ‘Oh, oops’.

“But it’s great, I’ve done lots of things for …different causes all around peace.”

Rabbi Kastel said he choose Barnes because of the rock star’s positive outlook on life.

“Jimmy is well known, and I knew that his feelings for the community and for the messages for peace and tolerance were very strong,” Rabbi Kastel said.

But fans in the audience who are hoping Barnsey will rock the synagogue may be disappointed.

The Cold Chisel frontman, joined on piano by Robbie Woolf from Diesel, will sing two songs, both in Hebrew, and one other track, possibly a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Barnes’ three daughters also will take the stage with their famous father.

“One’s a song of peace, a chant song – they picked it because it’s easy for me,” Barnes said.

“My Hebrew’s not that good … but as long as I can keep it simple and get the message across, that is the most important thing.”

Barnes, who will also light candles for peace, said he did not see his role as religious but as promoting tolerance.

“The important thing is that we are here for peace and tolerance,” he said.

“The fact that the rabbi asked me, you know, someone who isn’t Jewish … I thought it was a honour to be singing in a Synagogue.”

Barnes said he had no plans for a Hanukkah album.

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A lawyer by education, David Lange - founder and managing editor of Israellycool - found his calling in advocating for Israel and the Jewish people. He is available for public speaking engagements.