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The Journey Continues

22/10/20 16:57:12

Oct22

This week’s Parasha may be Noach but I’m looking forward to Lech Lecha, next week’s Torah reading about the call to Abraham.  I’m focusing on Lech Lecha because it’s particularly resonant for me as I announce my resignation from Caulfield Shule as its Senior Rabbi, a position I have held for...Read more...

Between Hope and Despair

15/10/20 14:31:04

Oct15

Life under lockdown often feels like a struggle between hope and despair – the numbers go up and down; the promises of freedom and opening of boundaries and then there’s yet another cluster in one of our favourite Malvern Malls. A glimmer of hopefulness that we’ll have that family Shabbat meal (and who knows maybe even a hug?). A...Read more...

The Road Best Travelled

08/10/20 14:25:26

Oct8

The celebrated American poet laureate, Robert Frost, wrote famously about “the road not taken”. Its central theme is about the two roads a hiker comes across in the forest:  

“Two roads diverged in a...Read more...

The Real Festival of Words (why words matters now more than ever...)

01/10/20 12:10:18

Oct1

We may think of Pesach as the festival of words; its very name suggestive of a speaking mouth -Peh (mouth) Sach (that speaks).We may think of it as the holiday about a story - the exodus - the night that tells of the great tale of liberation.

It’s however Sukkot that should claim the rights to the story, challenge the monopoly on words. Sukkot, after all, is about the story of not just a week of liberation, but a 40-year...Read more...

Teach me how to Fail - Yom  Kippur Drasha 5781/2020

24/09/20 11:48:31

Sep24

Rabbi Ralph Genende OAM 

The people of Israel have messed up awfully. Not long after hearing the 10 Commandments, they have built an exotic golden calf, an alluring idol and are dancing   around it with promiscuous abandon. Dismissed by God, Moshe is coming down the mountain with the Tablets bearing the Big Ten. When he sees the awful scene he drops and shatters them. 

Now it’s 40 days...Read more...

It's One  Strange Strange Rosh Hashana!

17/09/20 12:30:22

Sep17

It’s got to be the strangest Rosh Hashana you will ever experience – locked out of shule, locked-down at home. No shofar to blast you out of your sleep, no chazan and choir to get you out of your seat, no rabbi to get you onto your feet and no crowds of family and friends to greet and meet... 

Read more...

A Whiff of Memory

10/09/20 14:06:31

Sep10

At the beginning of his classic novel, East of Eden, John Steinbeck writes of memory: "I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers... what trees and seasons smelled like, how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odours is very rich”. 

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Words, Words, Words

03/09/20 09:55:02

Sep3

Everyday we are assailed by words from the moment we wake till we lie down at night. We all use about 20,000 words a day (and despite the myth, women don’t actually use more words then men). 

I love watching my...Read more...

The Case of the   Stolen Shofar?

27/08/20 12:03:25

Aug27

For my piece this week, I’m reprinting the article I wrote a few years ago. Heard it before? Well, it’s like the shofar itself, hopefully worth hearing once more! 

The Case of the...Read more...

Band of Brothers

20/08/20 15:50:14

Aug20

It’s a stellar speech, a powerful presentation by an actor at the peak of his performance. The words are strong and inspiring, the sentiment is stirring and enduring. It may be jingoistic, but it’s also jarringly relevant, and carries a message for our time and from our Parasha or Torah reading...Read more...

The Waiting Game

13/08/20 14:25:38

Aug13

One of the messages doing the rounds now is that it’s all a waiting game. Waiting for the lockdown to end, waiting for a vaccine, a treatment. Waiting for the shule to open, life to return to some semblance of normality... It’s like we’re all in a waiting room; as I’m reminded when I zoom into a session and am told...Read more...

Patience, plodding, perseverance... 

06/08/20 17:19:28

Aug6

There’s an eerie silence shrouding our cold Melbourne nights and early mornings. I never realized just how conscious I am of the constant buzz of traffic on my busy corner. Now I miss the sound of the fretful traffic, voices from the street. This lockdown is different from our first one. It’s more worrying; the number of Covid cases is...Read more...

"FROM SUPERVISION TO SUPER VISION"

30/07/20 12:13:13

Jul30

It was a time of deep darkness and anxiety. Uncertainty and unpredictability stalked the future. It was, to adapt Dickens, the worst of times for the Jewish people. It was the year 70CE. The Temple was smouldering, Jerusalem was lost, Jewish sovereignty ravaged, Jewish survival in the balance.

Into this bleak landscape, steps Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, student of the great Hilel, brilliant scholar and leader in Jerusalem. He quits...Read more...

Endurance

23/07/20 14:18:43

Jul23

There’s a different mood this time round. The first lockdown took us by surprise. It was a shockdown, filled with fear, uncertainty and deep apprehension. We couldn’t quite believe what had hit us; we struggled with it as one struggles with a sudden loss: a mixture of denial, defiance, sorrow, panic and pathos. This time, this lockdown, feels more...Read more...

If not now, when?

09/07/20 13:44:19

Jul9

Carpe diem may be a Latin phrase but it has its Hebrew equivalent. It’s called ‘Im Lo Achshav Aymatai’; If not now, when? It comes from Hillel’s famous aphorism in Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot 14). It’s about seizing the moment, recognizing an opportunity when it comes your way. It has a sense of urgency in that this instance may never come your way again.

And it this sentiment that motivated Roy and Belinda Smith when...Read more...

How the Shule closed and I "discovered" Shabbat

25/06/20 16:45:00

Jun25

Some three months ago, the Board of our Shule decided to close the Shule due to the onset of the Coronavirus. It felt like a body-blow. I was shattered; not only were the minyanim, the daily tefillot and especially the Shabbat services part of the very fabric of my being, but the services were what knitted us together as a community. How would the...Read more...

‘Why’ and ‘Why not’ 

18/06/20 13:26:51

Jun18

George Bernard Shaw put it well: “Some people see things as they are and ask “Why”. Others dream of things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’ 

These are telling words for a Corona age; they are also profound words...Read more...

Hope and Humility

11/06/20 12:41:09

Jun11

Two words have echoed strongly in my mind during this strange season we’re living through. They’re both “h” words, the one is hope, the other is humility. 

There are so many hurting in our own community from the loss of jobs, security...Read more...

I can breathe

04/06/20 18:48:06

Jun4

USA’s Kareem Adbul-Jabbar is considered one of the greatest players ever to play in the NBA. In the wake of the protests and riots unfolding in the USA, he asked a cogent question: “What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?

If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified,...Read more...

Take some nice Cheese Cake or ten of these tablets...

28/05/20 12:22:47

May28

If you were offered a freshly baked, deliciously alluring slice of cheesecake or taking ten tablets which you are told will keep you in good health which would you choose?

I suspect that if we were asked the question in public, most of us would give the noble answer -the tablets of course. In reality I think most of us would go for the cheesecake. After all, it’s real, it’s here right now and it’s simply tantalising. We may well...Read more...

It’s a strange, strange world..... 

21/05/20 08:33:44

May21

In 1968 the South African folk group, Four Jacks and a Jill, composed a hit song called Master Jack. The key lyrics of the song are “It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack. "You taught me all I know, and I'll never look back. It's a very strange world and I...Read more...

Bold and  broken Haleluyahs

15/05/20 06:37:41

May15

 

It’s one of the commonest words and, it’s one of the most sublime sentiments. It’s the word halelujah, praise or sing out loud for God. Thanks to Leonard Cohen, it’s now one of the most well-known Hebrew words across the world. Of course, he didn’t coin it – it was another Jew, King David, arguably the greatest poet of the Hebrew language.

The word does appear in a different form early in the Torah, but it is in...Read more...

Gamzumped, Gezoomt and Gezunt

07/05/20 16:26:04

May7

You’ve probably heard the word “gazumped ‘’or “gazumping,” which is believed to be derived from a Yiddish slang expression that means “to swindle.” It is used to describe the practice of raising the price of a house after an agreement with a buyer on what the price would be. The buyer would find he had been gazumped when he showed up for the closing. 

Read more...

Loneliness and Alone-ness

30/04/20 14:26:08

Apr30

Loneliness and Alone-ness

As I stepped into the Shule this morning, it struck me again that it too was suffering isolation, alone without its usual friends, bereft of the sounds of tefillah and shmoozing, leining and darshaning.

With a world in lock-down, batei knesset, synagogues, across the world are in splendid solitude and, of course, countless people across the planet are suffering the solitariness; struggling with...Read more...

Rabbi Ralph's Regular Anti-Corona vaccine of Chizuk and  Inspiration

07/04/20 13:19:24

Apr7

​​​Look Up!

On Monday night Caron alerted me to look up to the sky. We stepped outside; it was a crisp and lovely autumnal evening with a clear sky punctuated with stars. We looked up at precisely 7pm – and there it was moving rapidly across the firmament; the ISS, International space station tracking across Australia. And for a few minutes we stood transfixed. Our thoughts were far from our ailing planet, mesmerised by this...Read more...

Why is this Pesach different?

02/04/20 11:55:19

Apr2

I can’t get my head around Pesach this year. What’s a Pesach without the table extended to its magnificent best, groaning with hungry guests and kneidlach fests? Can it be Pesach without my grandson Ezra present opening his eyes to the wonder of the first seder he can appreciate? What’s a Mah Nishtana said by my spouse? What’s a Pesach without Shule, even if you don’t always get to the service on time or not at all. What’s a...Read more...

Words of Inspiration and Chizuk (March 27 2020)

26/03/20 14:55:29

Mar26


There are lines that leap out of our daily prayers and speak to me during these days of dismay and dissonance. They give me strength, they give me solace. I’ve said them a thousand times, but this time, in these times, they are strangely, eerily resonant. And being able to say them in the solitude, quiet space and measured pace of home pares them down to their essence. There’s a power and wisdom in these ancient words; they speak of...Read more...

Rabbi Ralph’s Daily Dose (Keeping in Touch) Your daily anti-Corona Vaccine of chizuk and inspiration

19/03/20 13:54:04

Mar19

Kurt Vonnegut put it superbly:

 

‘’Hello babies. Welcome to earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule I know of babies- ‘God damn it you’ve got to be kind’.”

 

If I were writing to the newborns today, I would add –It’s a tough and confusing planet right...Read more...

Meshuggah Times

12/03/20 14:36:51

Mar12

We really are living in “meshuggah” times – our certainties overturned, unpredictability at every corner, panic in the supermarkets, fear in every heart. The Talmud tells a story of Joseph, the son of the sage Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who became deathly ill and was thought to have died. Then he suddenly regained consciousness. It was as if he had returned from some far-away place. As he regained...Read more...

This Too Shall Pass

05/03/20 14:19:38

Mar5

 

This cartoon probably sums up the current mood best – one of fear, apprehension and anxiety; it also highlights our search for safe preventative measures like working at home and our agonising over travel plans and air-travel...Read more...

Sat, 24 October 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781