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The Jews are Back... and Not Just in the Parking Lot

18/10/18 14:19:29

Oct18

Seville is a magnificent city - one of those cities in Southern Spain that sparkle with summer sunshine, a majestic river, stunning old buildings bursting with history, a central Cathedral of enormous proportions and golden splendour. And if that’s not enough there’s the gorgeously ornate palace of the Real Alcazar with its endless rooms...Read more...

Questions, Questions, Questions

11/10/18 13:54:03

Oct11

Voltaire may not have got it right about God, but he did when it came to questions. He said “Judge a man by his questions rather...Read more...

Mister-In-Between

04/10/18 13:56:34

Oct4

“There is a war between the rich and poor

A war between the man and the woman

There is a war between the left and right

A war between the black and white

A war between the odd and the even…

There is a war between the ones who say...Read more...

In Search of That Lost Shofar

06/09/18 10:33:01

Sep6

For my newsletter piece this week, I’m reprinting the article I wrote last year. Heard it before? Well, it’s like the shofar itself hopefully worth hearing again!

 

In Search of That Lost Shofar

 

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The Best Gift of All - Organ Donation

31/08/18 12:29:41

Aug31

It’s the greatest gift, it’s in every breath you take, in each moment you wake – it’s the gift of life.

In these days leading up to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we’re especially attuned to the preciousness of this present; the...Read more...

Homeless

24/08/18 09:31:18

Aug24

You can’t visit your local shops and certainly the city today without coming across homeless people. They’re outside Coles or sleeping right next to slick city stores. Some display desperate signs like ‘Unemployed but willing to do any work for a meal’. In Caulfield a Jewish man offers to do handy jobs in exchange for support....Read more...

Justice, Justice!

16/08/18 14:32:10

Aug16

The courtyard of the Supreme Court of Israel is a dignified and awe-inspiring space. It is surrounded by stone arches in the Mediterranean architectural tradition. It is a mixture of the austere and the agile. The light and open Jerusalem sky give it an airy agility. The courtyard is divided by a narrow channel of water which was inspired by a...Read more...

Show Me Your Hero and I’ll Show You Yourself

09/08/18 15:50:06

Aug9

Show me your hero and I’ll show you who you are. We are defined by our heroes – they reflect our values and aspirations. Rabbi Soloveitchik wryly asserted that “hero worship is basically self-worship”.

Commenting on the hero of “classical man”, he notes this was a grandiose figure with unrealistic fantasies. The heroes of...Read more...

Mending the Broken Fragments

02/08/18 11:32:21

Aug2

When I was twenty one, I lost a close friend to leukemia. Heidi was just nineteen; she was vibrant, super-intelligent, and possessed an extraordinary appetite for Torah and the intellectual life. A runner-up in the World Bible Quiz and a brilliant university student, she had an insatiable curiosity, sharp intensity and a capacity to connect to...Read more...

Love is in the Air

26/07/18 14:27:57

Jul26

Everybody talks about love – it’s in our popular media, our radio and TV stations (think Bachelorette) are awash with romantic stories and songs; magazines love to speculate about the love and lust of movie stars, sports heroes and politicians. If you were to focus on pulp fiction and popular culture you could mistakenly believe it’s all...Read more...

The Art of Criticism

19/07/18 14:40:23

Jul19

When I was a young rabbi in Auckland, I received a great piece of advice from one of the elder statesmen of the community, David Pezaro. David was a JP, Board member and President of the Congregation (and many other organisations), but most of all he was an incredible ba’al chesed, a mentsch who helped countless people in his quiet and unassuming (and often invisible) way. He counselled:...Read more...

A Tale of Breath and Courage

13/07/18 11:29:31

Jul13

It’s been said that we need to constantly focus on creating a better planet for our children and better children for our planet.

The dramatic events and rescue of the twelve Thai boys and their coach this week caught the attention of the world. This was in part because it was a story about vulnerable children, our instinctive need to...Read more...

I Thank My Lucky Stars I’m a Jew!

05/07/18 15:17:01

Jul5

The sculpture is striking for both its simplicity and the strength it conveys. It stands outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in the beautiful sculpture garden. The garden is a place of quiet contemplation, with evocative commemorative works. Here you will find only two other sculptures of individuals, Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop and Simpson and his donkey, although there are...Read more...

Take the Product, Not the Person?

28/06/18 15:47:30

Jun28

It was Meryl Streep who said: “Disney, who brought joy, arguably to billions of people, was, perhaps, or had some – racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobby. And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company’s policies, a gender bigot”. Disney, like so many talented and celebrated individuals, had a lot to give to the world. And like so many gifted...Read more...

A Child’s Tears Move Heaven

21/06/18 13:01:25

Jun21

There’s hardly anything more poignant than a child snatched away from their parents. It tears at our hearts, it defies our protective instinct. As the verse implies “Like a parent feels for their child, so feel for us, Oh Lord our God”.

In view of this it’s not surprising that the Trump policy (rescinded today) of separating children, including infants from their parents (who were illegally entering the USA) met with such...Read more...

The Heart of Conflict

13/06/18 11:10:32

Jun13

The optics were astounding, the words remarkable – the unpredictable President Trump and his spurring partner “Rocket Man”, smiling, walking alongside each other, talking peace and compromise. For now at least, this enduring and deep conflict in Korea appears to be closer to an end…

It’s a promising moment for a world more...Read more...

The Gratitude Attitude

07/06/18 11:25:12

Jun7

Some years ago, when I was College Rabbi at Mount Scopus Memorial College, I attended an “Erev Todah”, an Evening of Gratitude, the culmination of a month long unit on the virtue of appreciation by the Year 6’s.  For a month they had not only studied about the meaning of gratitude in general and especially in Jewish sources, they had also visited shelters for the homeless and...Read more...

She Still Has Hope

30/05/18 10:49:51

May30

There’s a pervasive poison that penetrates this place; there’s an affronting beauty to it.

I am referring to Wannsee, just outside Berlin, the setting for the conference on 20th of January 1942 that determined The Final Solution. Here the architects of darkness constructed their deathly shadow plan, here they killed any humanity that...Read more...

30/05/18 10:49:36

May30

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What a Difference a Day Makes

10/05/18 11:26:04

May10

So goes the old song of Dinah Washington.

Being in Israel during this past week, but especially on one particular day, brought this home with a particular and peculiar force: Monday challenged and provoked, brought energy and despair.

There was firstly the historic opening of the American embassy in Armona (following on the heels of Jerusalem Day). At exactly the same time news of the deaths, rioting and protests in Gaza was...Read more...

L’Chaim – Embrace Life!

04/05/18 08:24:13

May4

L’Chaim – Embrace life! That’s the Jewish imperative and one our community of survivors has taught us so well in Melbourne. Death may be inevitable, but life is incredible. So many opportunities for giving, learning, enjoying and affirming. This idea informs and clarifies our Parasha this week which opens with a call to the Kohanim (the priests) to separate themselves from contact with the dead. They were not to occupy themselves with a...Read more...

Soup, Soul and Community

26/04/18 14:49:50

Apr26

At last week’s Soup, Sandwiches and a Chat meal, the project of our Darchei Shalom (Social Action) Group, there were about 40 residents of the Inkerman Road Council apartments (more than half were Jewish including one Chareidi man; most are of Russian extraction). There were also half a dozen of our volunteers. I came in while the residents were having dessert after enjoying soup and toasted sandwiches.

The atmosphere was relaxed,...Read more...

Matzo Balls, Gefilte Fish and a “Gevaltike” (aka great) Governor

19/04/18 16:37:56

Apr19

In the week leading up to Pesach, I attended a dinner at the stately Government House in our Royal Botanic Gardens. I’ve been fortunate to have visited this splendid State House on several occasions, but this time it was different. Our Jewish Governor, the Honourable Linda Dessau’s invitation was to a “Multi-Faith Youth Passover Dinner”. This was a dinner for young, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and a...Read more...

Happy 70th!

11/04/18 13:32:59

Apr11

Israel, it’s hard to believe you’re seventy. 70, after all, is a ripe old reverential age. The Mishna calls it the era of settled old age or seiva. I don’t think of you as old even though the years have not been kind to you – you’ve been battered  by wars, torn by the loss of so many of your finest children, pilloried by the UN, maligned by too many nations and become a magnet for some of the oldest and newest anti-Semitism...Read more...

It’s All OK, Beseder Mate!

28/03/18 12:05:09

Mar28

It’s a popular Hebrew response “Hakol beseder” (הכל בסדר), everything is ok, it’s alright mate… You can also translate this phrase as “It’s all in the Seder.” And in a sense this sums-up the essence of those magical first nights of Pesach. Everything you need to know about being Jewish is indeed contained in those nights. The seder experience is unique in its structure, exciting in its vision and visionary in its...Read more...

Ask Me a Question

22/03/18 09:54:34

Mar22

It has been said that animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions. Oliver Goldsmith once retorted: “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”.

I can’t imagine comments less Jewish than these! The Kotzker Rebbe who was known for his sharp retorts was once faced with a challenging question from a Yeshiva student. The student asked why it took God so long to...Read more...

Press the Pause Button

15/03/18 14:56:52

Mar15

Do you find yourself rushing from task to task, event to event, appointment to meeting? Stressed-out, worn-out, burnt-out seems to be the mantra of our manic lives. Apparently 52% of people say stress keeps them up at night.

Not only is ongoing stress bad for our health, it also affects our relationships, our capacity to be effective and of course our well-being. Even when we are...Read more...

The Measure of Transparency

08/03/18 14:16:44

Mar8

Transparency, accountability, openness – these are the buzzwords today for any organisation or business worth its salt. They are also the key words to understanding the opening of the second parasha this week, Pekudei, Exodus 38. It begins with Moshe giving a detailed financial accounting of the costs of setting up the Mishkan (Sanctuary).

Moses was all too aware of the need to...Read more...

A Woman’s Voice

02/03/18 11:16:34

Mar2

We had a riotous run-up to Purim with our young bubs (Caulfield Mums & Bubs) in their colourful Purim costumes, a spectacularly smart and entertaining Grand Debate on the “Future of the humble ham (entasch) and topped it off with a splendid carnival of Purim activities for our kids. Not to mention 5 Megillah readings (including one at Arcare Kooyong Rd by Rabbi Gedaliah Levin).

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“The Whole Megillah”

23/02/18 08:14:45

Feb23

We may call it a Megillah, we may think of it as a long, rambling, rambunctious fairy tale drama, we may joke about unchecked, unfiltered dramas being “gantseh megillahs”. The truth is that this little book, Megillat Esther, the story or scroll of Esther, is as profound as it is perceptive, as succinct as it is short. It comprises ten brief chapters and is more of a long short (but sharp) story than a book. At...Read more...

Wed, 24 October 2018 15 Cheshvan 5779