The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth presided at the inauguration of the ACT Jewish Community Inc's first rabbi, Alon Meltzer, this week.
Rabbi Meltzer, a 26-year-old New Zealander who moved to Canberra after studying theology in the United States, is the first rabbi in the congregation's 63-year history.
The event, which was attended by 225 people, also marked the announcement of a major extension to the National Jewish Memorial Centre.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis completed a circle of history when he turned the first sod of the new wing.
The then chief rabbi of the Commonwealth, Israel Brodie, had laid the foundation stone of the centre, which also serves as a memorial to Australian Jews who have lost their lives fighting for the country, during a visit to Canberra in 1962.
That celebration had been attended by then prime minister Robert Menzies and Israeli ambassador Moshe Yuval.
The current ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, attended the event this week.
Rabbi Meltzer, only the fourth rabbi to emerge from New Zealand's Jewish congregation, moved to Australia in August.
He and his wife, Linsay, have two young daughters and Canberra is already very much their home.
"It has always been my dream to be a community rabbi," he said. "Being a rabbi holds much responsibility, and not a day goes by without my realising the magnitude of the role representing the history of our people, our Torah, our laws and being a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God's name."
Rabbi Meltzer, who was inaugurated in the presence of his parents who had travelled from New Zealand, said it was hard to describe what the event meant to him.
"This community has existed for more than 60 years and has not had a rabbi until now," he said.
"I realise that this is an appointment of national significance [to the Jewish community]."
While Jews have lived in the region since the 19th century, Canberra's community took root in the 1930s.
By the late 1940s, serious thought was being given to establishing a formal congregation with the inaugural meeting of the community held in 1951.
The first bar mitzvah was celebrated in 1953 and the first communal Passover was held in 1954.
The lease for the land on which the centre stands was signed in 1959.
Building began in 1971 and then prime minister William McMahon opened the complex in December that year.
"The centre is unique in Australia for its inclusiveness encompassing orthodox and progressive Jewish communities," Rabbi Meltzer said.
Canberra's Jewish population is estimated at 1000 people, 200 of whom are affiliated with the centre.
Rabbi Meltzer is the second Rabbi currently in Canberra, with Rabbi Shmueli Feldman leading the orthodox Chabad organisation.