Sign In Forgot Password

The New C Word / Who's Afraid of  Coronavirus?

27/02/20 14:56:20


The “C” word conjures up so many fears and strong emotions – it’s usually about cancer, but of late it’s also about climate change. Now we have another “C” word to add to our fearful lexicon and it’s called Coronavirus.

There’s widespread fear across the world, huge media coverage, paranoia, conspiracy theories, racist attacks and deep economic anxiety. It’s been pointed...Read more...

Please Don't Pass Me By

20/02/20 12:50:11


As I read the parasha, the Torah portion of this week (Mishpatim), a line leapt out at me. It caught my breath, tapped my heart and dug into my memories. I’m referring to a line in the verse: If you see your enemy’s ass weighed down under its burdens, you shall not pass by. You shall surely release it with him” (Exodus 23:5).


The line that got to me...

How to Start Talking About Money

17/02/20 12:58:43


Money can have a huge impact on our relationships. According to our report on the nation’s relationships, The Way We Are Now, money worries are actually the biggest strain on couples across the UK - with over a quarter saying they experience this pressure. 

Yet research also shows that, despite its influence on how happy we are in our relationships, a large proportion of us feel unable to actually talk about money with our...Read more...

Cast a Giant Shadow

13/02/20 14:41:29


Handsome, with an unmistakable chin described as the most popular natural rift in America with the exception of the Grand Canyon (!); muscular, a man’s man; noble and iconic. Not a bad description for the son of a shmatta – seller from Belarus! I’m talking, of course, about Kirk Douglas, Izzy Demsky, born Issur Danilevitch – 103 years ago in 1916.

The storied life of Kirk Douglas has...

We Will Keep on Going...

06/02/20 14:16:23


Darcy Howard is a 16-year-old student from Bowral who has a passion for agriculture and enjoys spending time on his grandparent’s farm in NSW. He has many friends from the farming community whose families are gripped by depression and suicidal thoughts as a result of the drought: “I’d say a lot of people are thinking they can’t keep going when there is no rain”.

It felt natural for Darcy to write a poem for an English...Read more...

Drama, Trauma, Fear & Triumph

30/01/20 13:49:24


It’s been another week of drama, trauma, fear and triumph. The dramatic: ‘Deal of the Century’, President Trump’s peace plan. The fear: the spreading Coronavirus reaching our shores. The trauma: ongoing bush fires raging – this time near Canberra. The trauma: Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

The triumph: An Australian laboratory, the Doherty Institute, is the first outside of China to re-create the Coronavirus which...Read more...

Of plagues, pain and pride – Australia Day 2020

23/01/20 14:30:52


I woke up this morning to find my car covered in a sludge of red mud, the swimming pools in Melbourne, like the Yarra River, had turned a dirty orange. It was all apparently a gift from the north and dust storms in the Mallee drifting our way.


After the smoke haze, the golf-ball (or were they tennis-ball) sized hail stones and the torrential ran (not to mention...Read more...

      A light heart in a heavy world

16/01/20 13:52:31


It was dark, smoky and hazy over Melbourne. We experienced the worst air quality in the world. Our beautiful, liveable city was suddenly a shadow of itself. A week ago I was in Auckland on a bright and clear summer’s day. Around midday an eerie orange glaze coated the sky; it was followed by a dark cloud which plunged the city into darkness. Aucklanders panicked - they called the police and emergency services....Read more...

Of Silence, Shame and Malka Leifer

19/12/19 13:13:11


One of the most difficult of moral dilemmas is knowing when to be silent and when to speak out. The wise King Solomon understood this well when he said “There is a time to speak and a time to keep quiet” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).


There are occasions when silence is the best response such as a conflict when a misplaced word can...Read more...

From White Island to Mt Sinai

12/12/19 13:11:53


Whakatane is one of those attractive New Zealand towns, a sunny place known for the highest numbers of sunshine hours in NZ. It’s situated in the beautiful Eastern Bay of Plenty and has a plentiful selection of Maori historical sites, native forest, a stunning river and an abundance of yellow fin tuna. It’s not that far from Auckland and I remember it well from my life in NZ.


When Great Trees Die

05/12/19 11:00:03


My younger son, Yoni, recently introduced me to a marvellous poem of Maya Angelou.

It begins like this:

“When great trees fall,

Rocks on distant hills shudder,

Lions hunker down

In tall grasses,



29/11/19 09:54:12




One of the most evocative phrases of the Book of Psalms is: “I was young, now I am old and I haven’t seen a righteous person forsaken…” (Psalm 37:25). It’s a poignant reflection on aging and a theological challenge to the notion of why bad things happen to good people.


The test of cricket and grief

21/11/19 15:30:47


I’m not a cricket tragic, but I was struck by the 16 year old Pakistani wunderkind Naseem Shah, currently playing Test cricket in Australia. By all accounts he’s an extraordinary young man and the youngest player to make his debut in Australia at the Wacca. He’s certainly challenging the Australians.


Naseem has only been...

Your Children Are Not Your Children

15/11/19 09:40:34


“Your children are not your children.

They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.


You may give them your love but not your thoughts,


Kol Nidrei or Coles

07/11/19 15:27:09



Kol Nidrei or Coles


I received this text message last week…



The...

Living Humbly in an Age of Arrogance...

31/10/19 14:06:13


The great American preacher and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher famously said: “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one come from a strong will and the other comes from a strong wont”. This could apply equally to the difference between arrogance and humility. Arrogance is about being obdurate and inflexible in one’s own opinions and infallibility; an unyielding ‘wont’. Humility is about...Read more...

Travellers in Time (Yom Kippur Yizkor drasha  5780/2019)

24/10/19 14:35:30


On the first of February 2003, the Space Craft Columbia was at the end of its two-week shuttle into outer space. At 8.59am as it entered the earth’s atmosphere, it burst into flames killing all its seven crew members. Among the seven was the first Israeli astronaut, 48-year-old Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israeli Air Force.

Ilan’s death left a deep mark on Israeli society as did the premature death of his oldest son Asaf some six...Read more...

The Voice of the Next Generation -   Second Day Rosh Hashanah 5780 / 2019

17/10/19 13:57:06


They’re strong words from a diminutive individual: “You all come to us young people for hope? How dare you? The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you…”

They’re the words of the 16-year-old...

Be a Redwood Jew - Kol Nidre 5780, 2019

11/10/19 12:06:32


So what’s the most pressing question today? What’s the most urgent, compelling question? I know that for me there is one and only one: what does it mean to be human in an age of bewilderment. If I phrased it more narrowly it would be: What does it mean to be Jewish in an age of such anxiety?

We are living through one of the most exciting epochs but we’re also living through one of the most confusing of eras. It’s the best of...Read more...

10/10/19 11:22:30


Update this content.

Words, Words, Words – First Day Rosh Hashanah 5780, 2019 Rabbi Ralph Genende OAM

03/10/19 14:00:52


And every day 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 grandson, Ezzy, roll words around in his mouth discovering their beauty and power, their capacity to connect, to impress, to capture the essence of a moment, to amuse and bemuse.

And how I love words, delving into...


26/09/19 10:35:29


How tired are you? Well if you look at the stats more than half of us are tired most of the time and the rest of us are just worn out, burnt out, fatigued and fed up. Not just parents with young kids and they’ve just identified a new condition called parental burn-out exhaustion.

We’re all running ragged and so many of us just can’t switch off and relax… We’re working crazy hours in a 24/7...Read more...

The Still Small Voice

19/09/19 11:23:44


We had a power outage at our house this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD. IPad, and my new surround sound music system were all shut down. Then I discovered that my mobile phone battery was dead and to top it off it was raining outside, so I couldn’t play golf. I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then I remembered that this also needs power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a couple of hours. She...Read more...

Be a Daffer!

12/09/19 14:33:14


Daft – Silly, foolish, frivolous, merry – A chiefly British informal word. Synonyms: Bats, batty, bonkers, loony, psycho.

Daf – Paper, leaf, page. Originally Sumerian word (about 5,000 years ago) for clay tablet, later wooden panel, board. Today a Hebrew word for page, leaf or plank.

Most recently dafdefan used for web-browser stemming from dafdef for page through, browse.

Daf Yomi – Page of the day, a daily...

You are a Tree of the Earth

05/09/19 13:32:53


Since I was a teenager in high school and initiated the “Yeshivah College Ecological Society”, I’ve been acutely aware of the preservation of our natural environment and how cavalier we are about it.

The society was the idealistic passion of an adolescent and a dismal failure. My teachers indulged it, my fellow students ignored it; most were probably bemused by it.

Since that time, the damage we have done to our...Read more...

The Forests are Burning

29/08/19 14:25:45


The forests are burning, Brexit is boiling, Hizbollah is threatening, Hong Kong unravelling, world trade teetering. What a week!

If a week in politics is a long time, a week of global disruptions is a very long one ... It’s hard to recall a time quite like this. Charles Dickens talks of the best of times, the worst of times. This seems to be the worst of times – an age of anxiety, a period...Read more...

Of Memory,  Education and Sir John Monash

22/08/19 13:07:45


The Legislative Assembly Chamber of Victoria’s Parliament House is an impressive and imposing space. Built in 1856, it immediately attracted the attention and admiration of Colonial Victorians. Its rich interior with gold-leaf columns, soaring ornate ceilings and dark wood panelling continues to command respect and speak of law and power. It’s in this place that the Monash Commemorative Service run by the...Read more...

Be a Listener not a Phubber

15/08/19 08:56:22


You may know that I am obsessed with the art of listening. And the older I get, the more I am convinced that our personal relationships depend on our capacity to pay attention to each other, that our social and business relationships rely on our ability to really hear the other, that our national and international engagements hinge on the way we listen to one another.

I have also...

Be Healthy!

08/08/19 14:22:15


You probably know the old Jewish joke about the proud mother introducing her two baby children: my son the doctor and my son the lawyer. And even though the times have changed the respect for Jewish doctors remains unchanged. As for lawyers we’re probably more ambivalent, despite the fact that thanks to Talmudic tradition we’ve been called a nation of lawyers.

Truth is, we Jews have a long history of respect for both law and...Read more...

The Challenge of Restraint

01/08/19 14:19:59


An allegation of gang rape by a group of young Israelis ranging in age from 15 to 18 at a Cyprus resort gripped Israel over the past week. The 19-year-old British woman who said they had raped her has now been arrested for making a false accusation. The Israelis have returned home to a celebratory welcome by their families and supporters.

Like many Israelis I am deeply troubled by this sordid...Read more...

Sat, 24 October 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781