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'A Brutal but Blooming Desert...'

13/06/19 13:37:44

Jun13

Travelling through Israel on an AIJAC clergy trip recently, I was again struck by the haunting beauty of the desert. I was also struck by how large a proportion of the country is covered by it: The Negev desert makes up more than half of the land of Israel.

The desert has always dominated Jewish consciousness: First there was the journey of Abraham followed by the wandering of Isaac and Jacob...Read more...

'Aversion to Conversion'

06/06/19 11:04:39

Jun6

With Shavuot coming up and its theme of the conversion of the Jewish nation and the reading of the Book of Ruth, I’m reprinting a piece about conversion.

Why the aversion to conversion? I’m referring to the trend to make conversions more difficult and intractable that has gripped the Jewish world for the past twenty five years or so. Conversion to Judaism was never meant to...Read more...

'In the Dark Spaces'

30/05/19 10:17:02

May30

Like many children I was scared of the dark. One of my earliest memories is of running down the shadowy, seemingly endless passage of our home in Bulawayo. Darkness touches our deepest fears; it’s about the unknown, the primordial forest, the blackness hovering over the depths of Creation. The second verse of Genesis tells us that this was how it all began: “the earth was astonishing empty and darkness was on the surface of the deep…”...Read more...

'Ten Thousand Hours'

23/05/19 10:13:14

May23

Ten thousand hours. That’s what it takes to achieve mastery in a vast range of fields. 10,000 hours of focused, concentrated practice. This ten thousand hour rule popularised by Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell, was in part based on a 1990’s study of violin students. All of the violinists started playing at about five years of age with similar practise times. By the age of eight, the elite performers averaged more than 10,000 hours of...Read more...

'GOT or GOD'

16/05/19 15:33:59

May16

I’m no Game of Thrones (GOT) devotee or maven having only watched a few isolated episodes. I decided to watch the current series after reading how the epic war portrayed broke all TV records for the longest-filmed scene ever produced (it took 55 straight nights in snow, rain and mud sub-freezing conditions). And it was riveting: awful in its blood-letting, terrifying in its horror, dramatic in its tension....Read more...

‘Thou Shalt Innovate!’

09/05/19 16:12:09

May9

In the year 1 God said: Let there be light and there was light. In the year 3000 and something He said: “You shall surely keep my Sabbath and honour your parents”. In the year 1948 the Lord said: “You shall certainly create a state”. In the year circa 2008 He said loudly and clearly: “Thou shalt innovate!”

 

As we...Read more...

I see you, I need you, I am you

02/05/19 12:20:47

May2

 

 

When I look at the lovely photo of Lori Gilbert Kaye at the Kotel I see someone who could have been a friend, a sister, a congregant. When I hear about her life she reminds me of the women of the chesed in our community: generous, loving and looking out for others.

 

Read more...

Questions as enticing as Kneidlach… 

18/04/19 13:38:03

Apr18

Pesach and particularly the Seder has a hold on the Jewish imagination; it attracts even the most alienated of Jews; it enchants the young with it’s curious customs (and the fact that it places them at the centre stage); it talks to their parents recognising their dilemmas and challenges (how to cope with different kinds of children, how to keep them engaged etc.); it stirs the hearts of the grandparents with...Read more...

I’m in a Seder Frame of Mind 

11/04/19 15:33:37

Apr11

It’s that time of the year – with Pesach just a week away I am in a Seder frame of mind. Despite the number of Seders I have led – my parents handed them over to their zealous teenage son when he was 16. Despite the number of communal Sedarim I have attended, including one or two multi-faith communal Seders, a magnificent interfaith Youth Seder event hosted by our Victorian Jewish Governor, Linda Dessau at...Read more...

A Royal Speech for a Royal Night

04/04/19 14:30:58

Apr4

A Royal Speech for a Royal Night

Several years ago, the movie, “The King’s Speech”, about the speech impediment of King George VI and the man who helped him overcome it, the maverick Australian Lionel Logue, attracted a lot of acclaim, interest and awards across the world.

Notwithstanding...Read more...

Song of the Day

28/03/19 14:45:16

Mar28

At the end of the daily Shacharit or morning service there’s a psalm for the day known as Shir shel yom. The Mishna (Tamid 7:4) records that on each day of the week the Levites would sing a different psalm (as a choir with instrumental backing) in honour of the particular day. When the Temple was destroyed, the recitation was retained not only in memory of those days but also in the hope of future restoration, a time when the songs could...Read more...

Hatred knows no borders but love has no boundaries

21/03/19 12:07:35

Mar21

I’ve visited Christchurch numerous times, firstly as a New Zealand Rabbi – helping dedicate its refurbished shule back in the 1990’s – and then as a frequent visitor to the South Island. I was there last just a couple of months ago. It’s a place of quiet beauty with its meandering Avon River, boundless Hagley Park, genteel housing and gentle spirit. Its beauty and serenity (and its shule) have been...Read more...

The End of History?

14/03/19 14:05:17

Mar14

I am part of the lucky generation, a post war baby boomer (those born between 1946-1964). I grew up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa when the world was recovering from the trauma of World War 2 and seeking to rebuild and renew itself. It seemed the world was on the cusp of a new era. The term baby-boom refers to a noticeable increase in the birth rate, a sure sign of hope and belief in...Read more...

“No Man is an Island…"

07/03/19 14:28:33

Mar7

“No man is on an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… any man’s death diminishes me because I’m involved in mankind”.

John Donne, metaphysical poet, preacher and writer penned...Read more...

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

28/02/19 14:09:59

Feb28

 

Rabbi Genende Keeps in Touch

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

Charles Dicken’s immemorial words spoke directly to me this week: “It was the best of times, it...Read more...

How Kosher is Being a Vegan?

21/02/19 14:56:43

Feb21

“An atheist, a vegan and a cross fitter walk into a bar. I only know because they told everyone within two minutes”. This quote was posted on a sign outside a restaurant. It’s a telling reflection of some of the hot issues of our lives today: religion, veganism, fitness. It’s also a sharp insight into the intense debate around these...Read more...

Do Clothes Make the Man?

14/02/19 13:47:59

Feb14

Mark Twain once characteristically quipped: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”. Of course Twain got it right; we pay more attention to the elegant dresser than the “shloch” or poorly dressed individual. We look up to those wearing the trappings of office, we obsess about school uniform...Read more...

Don't stop when you're tired?

07/02/19 15:30:02

Feb7

It was Freud who said our lives are shaped by labour and love, the work we do and the people we love. Work is an inevitable and often ennobling activity. Work gives us purpose and our jobs often refine and define us, but is employment the essence of being human and is the love of labour more important that the labour of love?

Read more...

Our Worst Fears, Our Best Hopes

31/01/19 13:23:37

Jan31

It’s made world headlines – Melbourne rabbi verbally abused in road attack. The ugly and vicious anti-semitic comments aimed at the rabbi were chilling, if not completely unsurprising. We know that even in tolerant, multicultural Melbourne there’s been an increase in anti-semitic incidents. Fortunately it’s not on the violent and...Read more...

The Deep Down Freshness

24/01/19 14:20:06

Jan24

We lead such busy and noisy lives; always on the go, places to get to, things to do and never enough time in the day...

And as we move from appointments to commitments we’re constantly assailed by sounds. There goes your phone at...Read more...

Dear Zealots

17/01/19 13:08:34

Jan17

“Dear Zealots” is the name of one of the last published works of Amos Oz, Israel’s celebrated writer who died recently. Oz was not only a popular novelist, having penned over 20 novels, he was also an essayist, his non-fiction focusing on his life’s passions: the case for Israel and his ardent beliefs in the peace process and the...Read more...

Horse-Power

20/12/18 14:04:19

Dec20

One of our members, Eric Krause, sent me an extraordinary video clip this week (see link). It’s called “A very special horse” and it’s about Peyo a 14-year-old stallion with an exceptional talent for communicating with people and especially these who are unwell. His trainer, Hassen, takes him to hospitals and residential homes twice a month where he brings smiles to tired faces, joy and...Read more...

The Road to Leadership

13/12/18 14:50:36

Dec13

Churchill, in his inimitable style, put it so wisely and succinctly: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

As a great, albeit flawed, leader, Winston Churchill knew better than most...Read more...

The Heartbeat of a Lion

07/12/18 09:08:34

Dec7

When he turned 95, George Bush wrote his first and final tweet:

“Dear friends,

I am truly touched and overwhelmed by all the messages I have...Read more...

InSight and Insight

30/11/18 12:30:37

Nov30

On Monday NASA successfully landed its InSight robot on the surface of Mars. After a six-month journey across hundreds of millions of miles of deep space, a mission nearly ten years and close to $1 billion in the making it landed flawlessly despite the enormous odds against it. (It’s one of the hardest planets to land on especially because...Read more...

A Blend of Subtle Colours

22/11/18 13:27:02

Nov22

“I’m a Jew and I’m a Member of the Alt-Right” is the provocative title of Joshua Seidel’s article in the Forward (August 25, 2016). The articulate Seidel is a member of the ‘Alt-Right’ which opposes illegal immigration and gun control in the U.S.A and often targets the Jewish community. Writes Seidel in response to the obvious...Read more...

I am so tired, I can hardly type these words

15/11/18 15:10:57

Nov15

‘I must be overtired’, Buttercup managed. ‘The excitement and all.’

‘Rest then’, her mother cautioned. ‘Terrible things can happen when you’re overtired. I was overtired the night your father proposed’. William...Read more...

What’s Your Name?

08/11/18 13:45:26

Nov8

An American poet, Zev Steinberg, wrote a remarkably poignant poem after learning of the tragedy in Pittsburgh. When he heard of the killings at the Etz Chaim Shule, he thought of the little boy whose brit was to be that Shabbat morning and wrote his evocative piece in his honour (printed below). It imagines the names that the boy could be...Read more...

Wherever We Stand, We Stand Together

01/11/18 13:47:22

Nov1

When they came to shule last Shabbat morning to the עץ חיים, Tree of Life Synagogue they wouldn’t have dreamt that this שבת was their last, that the Tree of Life was about to be hewn and shot through with death.

When they...Read more...

Bridges to Cross, Bridges to Burn

25/10/18 14:56:00

Oct25

It’s been said that the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn. Some things are better abandoned – a failed business venture, a toxic relationship – and some things are worth persisting at despite the fear and difficulties. One of the bridges worth crossing is that to the stranger in need.

Read more...

Tue, 18 June 2019 15 Sivan 5779