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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...


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...

Burn Brightly But Don't Burn-out

25/07/19 14:15:12


Mama is 59 years old and her life is dwindling. She is weak and refuses to eat or drink. Curled up in a foetal position, her eyes are filled with pathos but also have a faraway look. She’s in a world of her own, seemingly preparing to step into another world…


Mama is a chimpanzee in an...

Exploring space; making space

18/07/19 12:29:54


50 years since humanity touched the face of the moon….Deep in the human spirit is the desire to travel, to explore, to discover new places, meet new people. The Midrash, book of Jewish myth and consciousness locates the urge to travel in the original human being. Adam, it says, was created out of the dust of the earth. It speculates where the dust came from. God, it suggests gathered the dust from...Read more...

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...

Fri, 26 February 2021 14 Adar 5781