Shabbat Vaetchanan

I strongly believe that the theme for the 2019 International Youth Day (this past Tuesday) is incredibly relevant to the direction in which Shules, community organisations and the education system in general should be going. 

The theme this year is “transforming education”. 

It highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. 

Shabbat Devarim /Chazon

This past week was ‘Donate Life’ week. I recall a few years ago when a few of my colleagues and I registered for a “Halachik organ donor card” which was from an organisation based in the USA.

At the time I received many emails and messages saying that they thought organ donation was against Jewish law. Some even thought they couldn’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery if they donated an organ.

Shabbat Matot/Masei

You don’t need “likes” on Facebook or Instagram to determine your self-worth.

Interestingly Instagram is trialing hiding the 'likes' count on the app in several countries to remove social pressure on users. Not sure if that is their true altruistic reason but nonetheless it definitely highlights a growing issue or concern in our social media world today.

Shabbat Pinchas

Over 37 of my colleagues, Rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, attended a two day conference in Geelong this past week. We focused on practical and professional Rabbinics.  Our guest lecturer, Rabbi Yossy Goldman from Sydenham Shule in Johannesburg, presented many sessions on innovative programs and pastoral care. The Rebbetzins also enjoyed their own seminar a few nights prior and appreciated learning from the experiences and wisdom of Rebbetzin Rochel Goldman.

Shabbat Balak

The Faceapp application (an app which uses neural network technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs) has again taken social media by storm with people posting images as to how they might look when they are older. It’s a fascinating concept and I think it’s intriguing to see a conceptualized older version of oneself.

Shabbat Chukat

I’d like to share something I posted this week on social media.

“There are generally two options or responses a person can have when they are upset at someone for something that they had done wrong to them. 

They can keep it inside and allow it to fester. This option often causes the upset to grow and become more toxic each day. It can start out small but it continues to grow in size. 

Shabbat Korach

“Are we almost there?” “Are we there yet??” Questions I am sure many of us asked on our family holidays or have heard or own children ask on the way to the family vacation. The thing is they are usually asked once the car has turned the first corner and only thirty seconds into the trip! The question is then repeated every five minutes until the destination is reached. Or rather till the test of impatience runs out.

Shabbat Shelach

Every few months I have the privilege to give a tour of the Shule and a talk about Judaism to the local public schools in the area. It always gives me joy to hear the different questions that are raised by the students and to see them embracing a different religion, even if it is just for an hour or so.

Shabbat Behaalotcha

In the lead up to officiating at a wedding there are numerous lessons and meetings that I have with the engaged couple. One of those meetings is facilitate looking at the results of a professionally designed pre-marriage questionnaire. This helps the couple look at the strengths and growth areas in their relationship. One of the sections covered in this assessment is to analyse how the couple might handle or react to disappointments and frustrations.

Shabbat Naso

I would like to share some reflections I wrote about after officiating a funeral this past week.

"The thud heard on the coffin as the gravesite begins to be filled is always a stark reminder of the fragility of life. Jewish tradition has those gathered at the gravesite assisting in this precious Mitzvah, doing one final act of kindness for the departed.

Shabbat Bamidbar

Some years ago I was working as a Rabbi in Atlanta, USA. It was my first role out of “rabbinic school” and my primary job was directing the adult education program for an already established Synagogue/Jewish Community centre. I had the opportunity to deliver a number of Torah classes during the week and also learning with individuals on topics of their choice. There was one guy with whom I learned on a weekly basis and we became quite close friends over my time in Atlanta. When I was getting ready to leave Atlanta I told him that I hoped to keep in touch with him in the future. He said something to me which I will never forget. He said that since we had spent time studying the Torah together we would always be connected since a a bond made through Torah is everlasting.

Shabbat Bechukotai

I receive a lot of emails from people who want to share interesting articles with me. A few week ago I received an email which immediately caught my attention. The subject heading was “How much are you worth?” The opening line in the email asked readers to take the quiz below and find out how much they are worth.

Shabbat Behar

This week in Australia is National Volunteer Week for 2019. The theme they have chosen for 2019 “Making a world of difference”.  I thought it was highly appropriate for our Shule and of course for our volunteers. One of the most tremendous things I have experienced in the relatively short time at South Caulfield Shule was the absolute dedication and support the volunteers offer to the community. I am always highly impressed and inspired by the time, effort and sincere love and care that the volunteers put in to make our community run smoothly. Over the weekend at our Charidy campaign and just yesterday at Lag B’Omer I watched a few of these dedicated volunteers helping me shlepp chairs, set up the fire, assist in the kitchen and all of this it is greatly appreciated. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all our volunteers for their continued commitment to South Caulfield Shule!

Shabbat Emor

This coming Sunday is a big day for our community. It is the inaugural Giving Day and we will be turning to you our members and friends to support the community enabling us to continue our forward trajectory. The Rebbetzin and I have had the great privilege of being at South Caulfield Shule for over a year now and it has been a wonderful experience. We have achieved a lot already with your help but here is still so much to be done and we cannot do it without you!

Shabbat Kedoshim

 was extremely honoured to have been asked to recite the Yizkor prayer at the recent communal Yom Hazikaron ceremony.

The evening was very moving but there were a few lines spoken that really moved me emotionally. The speaker said how there are things in life which are usually normal, uneventful - we don’t pay much attention to them. A knock on the door is one of these things. Yet in Israel sadly and tragically the knock on the door could be a dreaded sound. The reality of a military representative standing at the entrance of the home, coming to inform a family that they have lost a mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter is something which every Israeli fears. This is sadly something which has occurred too many times in our history.

Shabbat Acharei Mot

This week we commemorated Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day is always a difficult and painful day as we are reminded of the horrors of the Holocaust and what our Jewish brothers and sisters as well as millions of other human beings suffered through. The recent rise of antisemitism makes this day even more real and frightening.

Last Days of Pesach

Pesach is a challenging time. From the effort involved in cleaning the house to the preparations required for the Seder nights, there is always a long list of chores needed for this Festival. There is, however, another angle of emotional difficulty. It can often be a very painful and confronting time for many. Just this year past year I was talking to someone at the Seder and they mentioned how they could vividly recall their father singing the Chad Gadya song so beautifully. He expressed how it was so special for him and how each year since his father’s passing when they reached the Chad Gadya it almost reawakened the void he felt without having his father physically present. Many of us have special family traditions or memories from Pesach. For some it might be the matzah balls made by their mother or grandmother. For others it might be the memory of their mother or father carrying them to bed after falling asleep at the Seder table. Whatever the memory might be, it is something that perhaps will come to mind when we remember our loved ones during the Yizkor prayer on Acharon Shel Pesach.

Pesach 2018

Firstly I would like to wish you all a Chag Pesach Kasher V'Sameach! I look forward to celebrating our second Pesach at South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation. Once again we will be having a second night communal seder, Pesach Kiddushim and a great kids program on both days. I hope you have a meaningful and inspiring Yom Tov!