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Public interest and what interests the public

11/07/19 14:42:52


British Lord Northcliffe got it right when he said that ‘news is what someone, somewhere does not want printed. The rest is advertising’.

We live in an age awash with news and information. The recent raids on the ABC and journalists homes have reignited the Australian debate about the ethics of leaks. The resignation of Britain’s Ambassador to the USA Kim Darroch reveal the damage that leaks can cause: the fall of a seasoned...Read more...

'Of Folau, Freedom and Folly...'

04/07/19 14:33:29


Israel Folau has dominated our headlines over the past weeks. And like the State of Israel is likely to continue to attract attention, heat and passion for the foreseeable future!

The post of Israel Folau on Instagram (and then Twitter) that generated this storm reads: “Warning – Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves Atheists, Idolaters. HELL AWAITS YOU. REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES.”

He got 73,587...

'Making Space for her...'

27/06/19 13:54:10


When you think Exodus you think Moses; towering figure, saviour, law-giver, leader. When you think Egyptian story, you think Aharon, high priest, man of compassion. When you think Exodus you may think only of the mighty men of that generation; the princes and leaders. But think again, because without the heroism of women there would have been no Moses, no Exodus, no Torah.

The disastrous story of the 12 spies which led to 40 years...Read more...

'So far from home, so near to love...'

20/06/19 13:57:06


So far from home, so near to love ...

The Commonwealth Beer Sheva War Cemetery is located in the middle of suburban Beer Sheva. The neat lines of white gravestones set in the beautifully manicured cemetery are overlooked by tall modern apartment blocks. Here the dead meet the living, the contemporary collides with memory.

It’s a small...

'A Brutal but Blooming Desert...'

13/06/19 13:37:44


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


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


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


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


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


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...

I see you, I need you, I am you

02/05/19 12:20:47




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.



Questions as enticing as Kneidlach… 

18/04/19 13:38:03


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


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


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...

Song of the Day

28/03/19 14:45:16


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


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


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


“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...

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

28/02/19 14:09:59



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


“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


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


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?


Our Worst Fears, Our Best Hopes

31/01/19 13:23:37


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


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


“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...


20/12/18 14:04:19


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


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


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


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


“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...

Wed, 19 February 2020 24 Shevat 5780