They were told to be on their best behaviour and to sing in their most beautiful voices. But the excitement was just too much for hundreds of Jewish primary school children to remember the messages from their head teacher when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked into their assembly hall at Moriah College in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Up leapt dozens of children from the neat lines they were sitting in on the floor, while dozens more school choir members jumped down from a tiered stand where they had been patiently waiting, sending Mr Netanyahu’s huge security team into a spin.
As the grim-faced, dark-suited security guards tried unsuccessfully to stop the mini mob, Mr Netanyahu grinned and shook their hands and gave them high-fives.
Squeals of excitement rang out as he and his wife Sara made their way to some seats at the side of the hall.
The Netanyahus were accompanied by Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy, who are regular visitors to Moriah’s high-security Bondi Junction campus as it sits in the heart of the prime minister’s Wentworth electorate.
After listening to the choir sing Jerusalem of Gold, Israel’s unofficial national anthem, Mr Netanyahu had some questions for the children.
“How many of you want to come to Israel?” he asked. A sea of arms reached into the air.
“How many of you speak Hebrew?” Again, more arms went up.
“Here’s what I want to ask you to do. I want you to continue studying Hebrew. Be proud Jews. Be proud Australians. And come to Israel.”
As he bid them shalom, the children cheered and leapt to their feet to swarm around him so they could have pose for photos while some chanted his nickname, “Bibi, Bibi”.
Finally he managed to make his way out of the hall so he could drop by on a Hebrew lesson and deliver a speech to the college’s high school students.
The young children he left behind in the hall were buzzing with excitement.
But their head teacher wasn’t quite as happy.
“I think you could have behaved with a bit more decorum,” she told them.
Hundreds of high school students in a separate auditorium restricted themselves to standing ovations for Mr Netanyahu after he delivered a speech focused on the “fierce courage” of the Jews and their determination to have their own homeland in the state of Israel.
“Jews were transformed as the Jewish state transformed Jewish history and Jews’ destiny,” he said.
“You are part of that destiny. You are part of the reborn Jewish people.”