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Bold and  broken Haleluyahs

15/05/20 06:37:41



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


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. 


Loneliness and Alone-ness

30/04/20 14:26:08


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


​​​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


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


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


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


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



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...

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


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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...

Wed, 27 January 2021 14 Shevat 5781