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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...

I am so tired, I can hardly type these words

15/11/18 15:10:57


‘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


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


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...

Bridges to Cross, Bridges to Burn

25/10/18 14:56:00


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.


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

18/10/18 14:19:29


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


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...


04/10/18 13:56:34


“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...

In Search of That Lost Shofar

06/09/18 10:33:01


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



The Best Gift of All - Organ Donation

31/08/18 12:29:41


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...


24/08/18 09:31:18


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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...

The Gratitude Attitude

07/06/18 11:25:12


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


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


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What a Difference a Day Makes

10/05/18 11:26:04


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...

Fri, 23 August 2019 22 Av 5779