Sunday, July 31, 2005

Beis Hamikdosh Lecture/Presentation

This looks like an interesting presentation. Keep next motzoei Shabbos free.
(click on picture for a bigger view)

Apology accepted

I finally received a reasonable comment from "ump" regarding the last post.

AE I respect you highly for admitting you made a mistake. If my advice is worth anything then
1) delete this whole topic, rather than invite people to comment on it!
2) Delete any negative comments written anonymously against a person who uses their real name.
3) Do not allow people to talk in the name of our community. OUR, WE, US!
4) As you deleted Rabbi Gutnicks comments until you verified them, same policy regarding quoting a prominent Adass Spokesman etc. I will email a statement from Mr. Abelesz who will explain that this comment is twisted and malicious. It was posted to incite hate. Mr. Abelesz claims he has a sister in law from chabad plus the majority of his family.

We have no intention to threaten or close you down; all we want is that
this site should attack nobody but especially those good Jews who contribute
very generously to our institutions.

There is no purpose served to put other communities under the microscope.
This is definitely not the derech of Chabad.

I have admitted more than once that I made a mistake in making statements about other communities. It was obviously wrong and I again apologise for my statements which appear only under Aussieecho.

Obviously I cannot be at my computer 24/7 but will delete comments referring to individuals when I see them. I am happy for people to write to me at if they see something that I have missed.

But - I will still write my opinions about Chabad and our modod. We are all members of our community and have an equal stake in its future.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Deleted post

Friday, July 29, 2005

Some Erev Shabbos Humour

Only in Israel!


Four young novice nuns were about to take their vows. Dressed in their white gowns, they came into the chapel with the Mother Superior, and were about to undergo the ceremony to marry them to Jesus, making them "Brides of Christ."

Just as the ceremony was about to begin, four Hasidic Jews with yarmulkes, long sideburns and long beards came in and sat in the front row.

The Mother Superior said to them, "I am honored that you would want to share this experience with us, but do you mind if I ask you why you came?"

One of the Jews replied, "We're from the groom's family."


After months of negotiation with the authorities, a Talmudist from Odessa was granted permission to visit Moscow. He boarded the train and found an empty seat.

At the next stop a young man got on and sat next to him. The scholar looked at the young man and thought: This fellow doesn't look like a peasant, and if he isn't a peasant he probably comes from this district.

If he comes from this district, then he must be Jewish because this is, after all, a Jewish district. On the other hand, if he is a Jew, where could he be going? I'm the only Jew in our district who has permission to travel to Moscow. Ahh? But just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and Jews don't need special permission to go there.

But why would he be going to Samvet? He's probably going to visit one of the Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? Only two - the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs.

The Bernsteins are a terrible family, and a nice looking fellow like him must be visiting the Steinbergs. But why is he going? The Steinbergs have only daughters, so maybe he's their son-in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry?

They say that Sarah married a nice lawyer from Budapest, and Esther married a businessman from Zhitomer, so it must be Sarah's husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I'm not mistaken.

But if he comes from Budapest, with all the anti-Semitism they have there, he must have changed his name. What's the Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? Kovacs. But if they allowed him to change his name, he must have some special status. What could it be? A doctorate from the University.

At this point the scholar turns to the young man and says, "How do you do, Dr. Kovacs?"

"Very well, thank you, sir." answered the startled passenger. But how is it that you know my name?"

"Oh," replied the Talmudist, "it was obvious."


A man goes to shul for the first time in years. Wanting to welcome him the gabbai gives him Hagbah. Comes time, he's at a loss as to what to do, finally lifts the Torah in a most awkward way, not realizing its weight, almost trips and drops the Torah trying to balance it and open at least three columns as he was told. He's humiliated and vows the next time he's going to do it right.

The man joins a gym, trains, lifts weight and receives an honor on his next visit to the same shul.

He walks jonty jolly up to the Bimah, confidently raises the Torah, opens it five columns wide,does a perfect Hagbah. Proudly, he asks the Gabbai," nu, so how did I do".

The Gabbai, not missing a beat replies, "not bad for Shlishi" !!


Two guys have been learning together for 20 years.
One of them is going to make a bar mitzvah so he says to the other one, "I am making a bar mitzvah and I would like you to come."
"I'm sorry, I can't."
"But I really want you to come."
"You don't understand. I just can't come."
"But why can't you come?"
"I'm not Jewish."
"What do you mean? We have been learning together for 20 years."
"I enjoy the intellectual stimulation."
"But we learned that a goy that keep shabbos is 'chayav misah.' "
"I never kept shabbos. Every time I was ready to leave my house, I put a key in my pocket."
"But we have an eruv here."
"I don't hold from that eruv."


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tsach's Planned Actions To Combat Condition in Israel

Exclusive to COL:

Over 250 shluchim of the Rebbe and Chabad activists from all over the land, got together today for the emergency convention in the Nir Etsiyon hotel near Chaifa where a detailed course of action designed by Tsach's Board for Preservation of the Nation and the Land was presented and explained. The program is based upon the Rebbes directives regarding the conditions in Israel and was approved by the Supreme Beis Din of Chabad in Israel. Two simultaneous courses of action to be taken are: 1. Extensive propaganda regarding the grave dangers of the disengagement plan and 2. Increasing of the merits of the Jewish nation by intensifying the three important realms of Torah, Prayer and Charity.

To implement these, the shluchim and activists will be using two booklets that have been especially published for these purposes. One of them is named, 'What will occur when there are no more sheep?' and the second one is called, 'Three Ways to Change the Situation' - which explain the powers of Torah, Prayer and Charity and their capabilities of bringing salvation to the nation of Israel. This booklet also stresses the laws of the Rambam on issues regarding the Holy Temple, in a clear and concise language, and also contains several chapters of Tehillim designated to abolish the decree when read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Menachem Brod on Gush Katif

I may be sappy but I love this photo!!
From COL:

Last week, when the huge demonstration dispersed after three days in Kfar Maimon, many were disappointed about not proceeding and breaking into Gush Katif by force. These felt that the demonstration failed since the crowd had not arrived at Gush Katif. This is an erroneous feeling says Rabbi Menachem Brod of Sichas Hashavua.

Brod claims that the success of the demonstration is not measured by its destination and ought not to be evaluated by whether the people had or had not arrived at the Kisufim barrier. The demonstration had succeeded particularly because of the fact that it was not violent and that it did not produce clashes between policemen, soldiers and the demonstrators. It succeeded since it voiced a powerful public protest which resonated not only throughout Israel but throughout the entire world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Report from Shluchim Conference

Shoshana sent this in. She received it from a shaliach in America and I have sighted the original.

I believe that it is a well presented summary of the Rebbe's attitude to Eretz Yisroel and protests. I strongly believe that the shluchim, and especially those shluchim in Chabad Houses, are doing the Rebbe's work - they are on the "front lines" and their opinion has to be taken seriously.

Last week we had a regional Kinnus Hashluchim which was held here in South Florida. At one of the sessions entitled "Chabad Policies" questions were asked regarding to what extent Shluchim/Chassidim should be involved in political/communal activities regarding the current crisis in Eretz Yisroel.

The Head Shluchim of the states of Florida, Texas and the Carolinas (Rabbis Avraham Korf, Shimon Lazaroff & Yossi Groner) were on the panel. They explained that there is no ambiguity as to how the Rebbe felt regarding this issue and the hours upon hours the Rebbe spent talking about the danger of giving away parts of Eretz Yisroel. There is no doubt that every Chossid obviously has or should have those same feelings and Hergeishim and there is no doubt many are tempted to go to rallies demonstrations etc. to show their opposition to such a plan.

However, this was not the Rebbe's mandate to us. While there are no clear Hoiro'os against political campaigning regarding Shleimus Ho'oretz as there was with Mihu Yehudi where the Rebbe said clearly we should not get involved - The head shluchim challenged any one in the room (130 shluchim) to find one time when the Rebbe spoke about Shleimus Ho'oretz and also mentioned - publicly - that we should be staging protests, and political rallies to bring about it's downfall. Nobody responded. If the Rebbe wanted us to do this he would have clearly said so! The head shluchim continued and explained the reason for this. The Rebbe told us many times that there are 2 roles in averting decrees in this world. Mitaam Vedaas and Lemaalah Mitaam Vadaas. For example, when one is sick R"L - there are the doctors and medications and there are also the Teffilos of families & friends. Both are needed! Our role - the Chassid's role - is Lemaalah Mitaam Vedaas. That we can actually avert the Gezairah by going out on a huge campaign of the Rebbe's Mivtzoim that thousands of Jewish men will put on Teffilin, and thousands of Jewish women will light Shabbos candles etc. This the Rebbe said will have a direct effect on the Gezaira Milemaila - this is our role to play....others may demonstrate and effect the situation Mitaam Vadaas, but ours was always a higher way. Recall the 6 Day War when the Rebbe instituted an all-out teffilin blitz and said this will protect Yidden - "Veraau kol amei hooeretz ki shem Hashem vechulu." While the Rebbe spoke literally hundreds of times of the methods that will dispel the darkness of this Golus and all decrees that come with it - the Rebbe never mentioned publicly amongst these methods - demonstrations and political rallying. Our job is quite clear.

Chas Vesholom to say that this means we are not just as much against the withdrawal as those protesting. The Rebbe said we must do all we can to forestall the danger and this would include letting the media know the Rebbe's view, letting our communities know the Rebbe's view and as a Rabbi making a Psak Din etc. However, our main way of preventing tragedy is by flooding the world with massive campaigns of Torah & Mitzvos this is what the Rebbe taught us.

Although the above tells us it should not be our main focus, it does not mean we must unequivocally stay away from demonstrations. However, one Head Shliach raised another problem, particularly prevalent in the US. When these rallies take place there are extreme left wing groups who attend and put up signs such as "death to Sharon" etc. to discredit the protest make the rally look fanatical etc. There are also unfortunately many trying to discredit and delegitimize Chabad, they take pictures of Chabad Rabbis at the rally with these signs in the background and this makes us look like extremists and dangerous and create a terrible chillul Lubavitch and chillul Hashem. See recent artciles in JPost and Haaretz regarding activities in Kfar Chabad for proof of this. This does irreparable damage to Chabad on many fronts.

Finally they mentioned: One of the things that bothered the Rebbe the most was violence, threats, aggression, harassment - particularly against other Jews and particularly in the name of the Rebbe. "In Lubavitch there are no Terroristen!! - we have no terror brigade!!" This destroys the good work that we do and pushes Moshiach further away.

This is a basic summary of the 2 hour long session. May there be only good news to relate regarding the holiness of Eretz Yisroel and Am Yisroel. May we merit the resolution of all these problems with the coming of Moshiach Bekorov Mamosh.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Enough rudeness!

The rudeness and grobkeit in the comments is really getting out of hand - especially in relation to the Gush Katif situation. I am happy to let everyone have their say on both sides but will delete any comments that are rude, abusive and/or offensive. Just take an extra few minutes and write something that is intelligent and coherent.

Please have some respect for yourself and others.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mivtzoim as usual

Another story from COL this time about the mivtzoim done at the Kotel. Anyone who has been there has witnessed the wonderful work these guys do. (Click on the link for more photos)

On Thursday, 14th of Tamuz, a ceremony of the 17th Maccabiah took place at the Western Well in the presence of 3,500 Jewish athletes from all over the world. Just before the closing ceremony of the Maccabiah, the athletes chose to visit the Western wall, remnant of the Beis Hamikdash, and for many of them this was the first visit to the Kosel and their excitement was visible.

Rabbi Yosef Halperin, shliach and Chabad booth director at the Kosel greeted the athletes with a staff of volunteers, young men and bochrim, students of the Tsemach Tsedek Colel and of Maayanot in Yerushalayim. These activists immediately got to work to make sure to lay teffilin to all of these thousands of athletes. The visitors were glad to find "Chabad also here at the Kosel, just like in our state and city". A few dozen of them laid teffilin for the first time and thereby eliminated their categorization as a 'karkafta' (a head that had never donned tefillin).

One of the Highest Learning Levels - in Australia

This appeared in COL with the above caption. I think I need say no more.... (No personal comments please!)

Rabbi Shmuel Gurevitch, shliach and director of Beis Rivkah in Melbourne, Australia, was interviewed by Assaf Nagel in his Kol Hashishi radio program on the Kol Chai radio. Rabbi Gurevitch related that he was the second generation to shluchim and that his father was first sent to Australia by the Rebbe Rayats. Rabbi Gurevitch had gotten married in Israel but in 5731, the Rebbe had instructed him to return to Australia and to direct the 'Beis Rivkah' school there. Some 700 students are enrolled there today, many of whom are from not frum families. After they graduate though, they stay observant and build religious homes. According to Rabbi Gurevitch, the learning level of Beis Rivkah in both holy and secular subjects is the highest - in Australia.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Kinus for Gush Katif in Sydney

This is what should have been organised in Melbourne:

Kinus of Torah, Tefilloh and Tzedokah

Sunday 17 Tammuz
4.00pm – 4.45pm ( followed by Mincha )

To show support and to pray for our brethren in Gush Katif.

Men, women and children are invited.

Includes a raffle for children.

Tzemach Tzedek,
1 Penkivil St, Bondi

Friday, July 22, 2005

Erev Shabbos Jokes

Things have been getting a little heavy here so I thought that I would dig up some old jokes.
Enjoy and have a Good Shabbos and a Shabbat Shalom.

Jewish Vocabulary

JEWBILATION n. Pride in finding out that one's favorite celebrity is Jewish.

TORAHFIED n. Inability to remember one's lines when called to read from the Torah at one's Barmitzvah.

SANTASHMANTA n. The explanation Jewish children get for why they celebrate Hannukah while the rest of humanity celebrates Christmas.

MATZILATION v. Smashing a piece of matzo to bits while trying to butter it.

BUBBEGUM n. Candy one's mother gives to her grandchildren that she never gave to her own children.

CHUTZPAPA n. A father who wakes his wife at 4:00 a.m. so she can change the baby's diaper.

DISORIYENTA n. When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation with everyone she passes.

GOYFER n. A Gentile messenger.

JEWDO n. A traditional form of self defense based on talking one's way out of a tight spot.

MEINSTEIN slang. "My son, the genius."

MISHPOCHAMARKS n. The assorted lipstick and make-up stains found on one's face and collar after kissing all of one's aunts and cousins at a reception.

ROSH HASHANANA n. A rock 'n roll band from Brooklyn.

YIDENTIFY vb. To be able to determine ethnic origins of celebrities even though their names might be St. John, Curtis, Davis, or Taylor.

MINYASTICS n.going to incredible lengths and troubles to find a tenth person to complete a minyan.

FEELAWFUL n. Indigestion from eating Israeli street food.

TRAYFFIC ACCIDENT n. An appetizer one finds out has pork in it after one has eaten it.

Not a job for a Jewish boy...

Two Rabbis were talking about how they made a little extra money on the side.
Rabbi Ginsberg said: Well, I work in a battery factory standing near the conveyor belt.
What do you do there? asked Rabbi Goldberg
I just wave my hand as the batteries go by and say 'I wish you a longlife!'

Jewish jokes

A man started to tell a joke at a party: "Two Jews were on their way..."
Suddenly he was interrupted by a sensitive guest.
"Why do so many jokes begin with Jews?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," apologized the story teller, "I'll start again. Two Chinese men were on their way to the Synagogue to see the Rabbi..."

Mincha at Kfar Maimon

This amazing photo of mincha at Kfar Maimon appeared on the Lamed blog here. Just shows that there is more that unites us than divides us!

Mentalblog also has some great photos.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More photos from the rally

I was just sent some more photos from the rally including the bottom one showing the pro-disengagement chevra. The middle photo shows that there were some adults attending as well.

I was sent many more photos but most of them were of even worse quality. Also the report of the rally which accompanied the photos was badly written and full of spelling mistakes. They are not helping the cause by being so unprofessional.

Gush Katif Rally Reports

Thank you to a number of people for sending me the photos of the outside of Yeshivah Shul. They clearly show the Israeli flag on the fence. I personally don't have a problem with that but I can understand that to some it represents the non-religious state of Israel rather than Eretz Yisroel.

I have had various reports from the rally last night. Numbers attending ranged from 600 to 1000 - depending on who was reporting it - with approximately 40 protesters from Hashomer Hatzair youth group. Of those attending approximately 70-80% were kids and youngsters.

The official report from the rally organisers says that there were 1000 people in attendance at the Werdiger Hall. I could not find any reports on the web about it so it obviously didn't attract the (positive or negative) attention suggested here. Even the Aust Friends of Gush Katif website didn't have a report up yet just the statement that it was "a great success".

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Letter from Israel

David Frankfurter is a former Sydneysider who made aliyah with his family 13 years ago. He describes himself as "a business consultant, corporate executive and writer who frequently comments on the Middle East".

This is the introduction to his latest article entitled Use by: Gaza disengagement (click on the link to see the entire article):

Masterful sleight of hand has once again allowed the Palestinian leadership to profess peace, while keeping terror on a slow flame. The reward of yet more billions in international aid was swiftly followed by hate broadcasts and terror. Official Palestinian television mocked the “infidels‚” blown up in London. Hamas rained mayhem on Israel, rushing to meet the “use-by‚” date on its stores of rockets and mortars. They can’t let Sharon’s disengagement plan leave the rewards to Abu Mazen and his cronies.

Yud Beis Tammuz

Today is Yud Beis Tammuz - the 12th day in the month of Tammuz - which is the birthday of the Previous Rebbe and the day when he was granted release from his sentence of exile for spreading Torah in Russia. See here at the Sichos in English site for a translation of the Previous Rebbe's account.

I have reproduced an excerpt from the book Timeless Patterns in Time below. I believe it is particularly relevant to us and the discussions we have been having on this site. Despite us living in a vibrant Jewish community we must not rest on our laurels. We must confront the challenges of living in 2005 and ensure that we remain a frum and truly chassidish community.

The Previous Rebbe's redemption on Yud-Beis Tammuz led to his coming to the United States, a change in location that had two effects. On the one hand, being in America enabled him to disseminate Judaism and Chassidism without all the difficulties encountered in Europe. However, the American environment also confronted chassidim with a challenge - that of maintaining the intensity of commitment aroused by a threat to one's existence when that threat no longer existed.

The Previous Rebbe withstood this challenge as well, initiating trailblazing activities which ultimately established America as a major Torah center for our people. With untiring optimism and perseverance, he opened up new frontiers in his efforts to disseminate the observance of Torah.

His redemption on Yud-Beis Tammuz was thus not a personal matter; it affected our entire people. As the positive effects brought about by this redemption continue and grow, we are able to see openly, and not only appreciate on a spiritual plane, that his redemption served as a preparation for the ultimate Redemption which we will
experience with the coming of Mashiach. May this take place in the immediate future.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gush Katif and the Rally

(Go to this link to get details of the settlements in Gaza and the Shomron. Click on the cities to get and overview and video of each one.)

Rallies for the support of Gush Katif and other areas included in the disengagement are to be held tomorrow. There has been much criticism of the rally on this site and in the Jewish News and other sources. Much of the criticism has to do with statements made by the organisers and the wording on posters and in articles. This has led to some very emotional outbursts on this site and others.

While it does not excuse the organisers, there is a strong precedent in our community for rash and irrational public statements. Only a couple of years ago the community erupted in debate about the awarding of the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian "activist" Hanan Ashwari. Every macher had to have his say which gave the press lots of fodder to show how the Jews are trying to control public opinion. If the "experts" in our community cannot get it right how can we expect a group of politically inexperienced people to present their cause in a rational way.

With regards to the disengagement there are a number of issues at play here but the fact that people are being removed from their homes against their will bothers me the most. We are sitting in our comfortable houses in Melbourne enjoying our middle class lifestyle and are unmoved by the fact that Israeli citizens, who pay taxes and serve in the army etc. etc. are being evicted from theirs.

But saying that I still have negative feelings about publicly marching down Inkerman and Hotham Streets in a demonstration against the democratically elected Israeli government. Even apart from the fact that the Rebbe was against us participating in public political demonstrations this demonstration will serve no practical purpose. From a religious point of view it would make more sense to have an evening of tehillim, divrei Torah and discussion about how we can help Israel.

I am even more disturbed by the rumour that some Zionist youth groups will be holding a pro-disengagement counter demonstration. This is really going to play well in the secular press!!

Rather than dismiss the complete cause let us join in the saying of tehillim wherever we are between 8:30pm - 8:45pm on Tuesday evening.

Here are a number of web sited devoted to the disengagement cause:
Worldwide Solidarity Rally for the Land of Israel
Australian Friends of Gush Katif
Friends of Gush Katif
Save Gush Katif
Even has something to say - here

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Support for Israel

Surely this is the sort of thing we should be doing to support Israel and her soldiers.

As reported in

Donors from France Donate Dozens of Tefilin to IDF soldiers

Yesterday, Thursday, Rabbi Shmuel Gurewitz and his brother Shalom from Lyons, France, arrived in Hebron yesterday with dozens of pairs of Tefilin for IDF soldiers. The Tefilin were donated by generous donors from France.

The commanders thanked Rabbi Gurewitz and the donors for the gracious act.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Have your say

I have just put up a poll to get some sort of idea what people think. It is not particularly scientific but a start. There is a built in filter to stop multiple votes so please vote only once.

I am working on an better method of gauging what people really want from the mosod but it will have to wait until after Shabbos.

Good Shabbos.

A comment from the PTB

Finally a comment from someone who says he is one of the "powers that be". I am gratified to receive this as I feel that only by dialogue can the frustration that many people feel be resolved.

I certainly dispute the statement that things are being blown out of proportion. There is a widespread dissatisfaction with the Chabad establishment in Melbourne and I believe that most of those people feel disloyal in speaking out. The advantage of a blog is that they can express their views honestly. The sooner that the administration/executive/head shaliach (= PTB) will acknowledge this dissatisfaction the sooner the issues can be resolved.

The complete comment from "Chochom" is reproduced below (since I haven't got the hang of linking to comments yet). I welcome comments on his/her opinions but say again that I will not stand for personal abuse. It is true that he mentioned Rabbi Groner but I will delete any comment that speaks about him in a disrespectful manner. Rabbi Groner has been the Rebbe's shaliach in Melbourne for the past 45 years and has worked tirelessly for the mosad. Whatever issues we have with him now don't justify disrespect.


Chochom said...

I am somewhat new to all this "blog" stuff but have been reading all these fascinating comments regarding the YCBR.

I would like to make at this point just a few initial points.

1. The extant & degree of dissatisfaction with the YCBR & the whole Melbourne Chabad community, including this nonsense term PTB, is presented by all the "bloggers" who have commented on this blog as being widespread & almost at a critical level, as if the very soul & essence of the Chabad character of our community is at risk.

Lets put things in perspective. Yes there are problems, which by the way exist in every Chabad community in the world. CH is probably the worst. Things can be improved & I do agree that people should be able to express their concerns & receive a proper hearing from the community leaders, both lay & rabbinic.

But I have the sense that the contributors to this blog really represent a small group of people, who probably due to their own personal experiences, which I can understand, have some real issues & grievances with the YCBR leadership.

The wider community, though they may obviously have concerns & complaints, probably don't have the passion & hostility evident in many of the comments made by regular contributors to this blog.

Maybe they are all just too content & "baalabatish" to give a damn. But maybe also they, on balance, recognise that we have a lot to be proud of & particularly those who have been associated with the YCBR for a long time, have seen gradual improvement & growth, both qualitatively & quantitatively. I am one of those, perhaps who you could accuse of being part of the "establishment" that remembers the YCBR in the 60's & 70's when the 1st shluchim to the YG came & the school is way better.

Secondly, though I actual agree quite strongly with all the arguments for more accountability, democratic elections etc etc.. but everyone has forgotten one of the essential features & "doctrines" of Chabad communities throughout the world i.e the notion of the "Head Shliach", who the Rebbe zatzal appointed to establish & build the community.

Now, I don't want to get into a long philosophical discussion on the pros & cons of this concept & I am very well aware of how this concept has resulted in our sister city, Sydney "self imploding" .

However, as long as Rabbi Groner is healthy & actively involved in running the YCBR, he will argue that he was (& is) the Rebbes Shliach & don't expect real progress towards "democracy" until there is a changing of the guard. This is not a criticism of Rabbi Groner, I would not be frum if not for his work, but this is the reality.

However, come that day, I am absolutely sure, that the "PTB" (which possibly includes me, depending on its definition) who are not evil, corrupt people seeking leadership for power or financial benefits, will have no choice but to reorganise the leadership of the various Mosdos in our community based upon more representative foundations.

This is both self evident, as Melbourne will never be able to replace Rabbi Groner as a strong single "Head Shliach" & is based on my own conversations with the YCBR executive members who all recognise this eventuality. Not only because of its unavoidability but also because they all think it is correct & necessary for a mature community like ours.

So much for my first contribution. A little lengthy but I thought these points were important to be acknowledged.

I don't spend a lot of time reading blogs, but I will look forward to any comments & objections raised by other contributors.

As an aside, its interesting how all the very "Chassidish" contributors who bemoan the influence of the Internet seem to be very in touch with this form of medium & have, what appears to me, ready access to the Internet & "surf" it regularly. But my views on this & other "worldy" matters versus the current trend towards insularity is for another occasion.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah - is there a future?

My post about Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Colleges and the many problems that we as parents have with the schools has caused a lot of comment and a number of suggestions. In the less than 3 days since it appeared there have been over 1500 visits to this blog and 162 comments on this particular post. While this is gratifying to me personally, the main point is that there is a general discontent with the Lubavitch administration in Melbourne (the PTB = "powers that be") in general and YBR Colleges in particular.

I would like to make some important points before I continue.
· Personal attacks on the PTB or individuals are counter productive. If you are serious about change and improvement it has to be approached in a menchlich manner. We all know the truth of what "Maven" said here but we must rise above their tactics.
· Chabad in Melbourne is not corrupt, the PTB are not corrupt they are a group of well meaning people who, on the whole, are dedicated to Chabad and the Yeshivah Centre. The fact that the system needs a complete reorganisation and overhaul is the point that we must get across to them.
· Melbourne Lubavitch is not the only institution in the city with problems. Look at the Caulfield shul situation. Mizrachi and Adass have their problems (Adass, being like Yeshivah, sweeps them under the carpet). Kollel Beis HaTalmud have had their issues in the past. We are not unique as Lubavitchers and we feel the problems with our mosod deeply.
· The school is not always 100% to blame for problems with our children. The comment by "Bloke" (here) put the valid argument that parents have to take responsibility in all ways for their behaviour and that of their children. Where the school is to blame is in the way they deal with problem children.
· While there are, obviously, many children who thrive in the schools this often appears to be despite the education system rather than because of it.

The time is overdue for change. Not change for the sake of change but change because of the problems that are endemic in our organisations. Unlike some commenters here I believe that the PTB will take notice if enough people complain in a calm and rational way (bedarkei noam ubedarkei sholom). They may not do anything but they will take notice.

In my mind there are two ways to go about it. From within by organising meetings with the PTB and communal meeting to discuss the correct way it should be run. From without by giving up on the Yeshivah Centre conglomerate and forming our own schools.

With regard to changing the school there have been a number comments. Some from "Plotter" here which summarises the main issues. "Trying to be Constructive" wrote lucidly about organising a meeting here and the way in which we should approach the PTB.
The problems of lack of financial accountability and the non-democratic way the executive is appointed would be amongst the first issues to be tackled. If it ever came about that there were elections for a committees that would be a major start to revamping the schools.

But, when one looks at the way the Yeshivah Centre has been run over the last 20-30 years it would appear that there is no way that change will happen from within. When the PTB feel personally threatened by well meaning comments and suggestions for improvement it becomes virtually impossible to effect change. The only way to get anything done in Melbourne these days is to be independent - whether it is by starting your own Chabad House or new school. What is needed is money - and lots of it! I know very little about running a school but imagine that it is like any business. Rent, salaries etc etc cost big bucks. A school would need either one or more wealthy people who would sponsor it and/or a number of committed parents who would dig deep to support it until it got off the ground.
I feel that there are many talented teachers who would "jump ship" if there were a better alternative than YBR in town. As someone mentioned there is no shortage of young people looking for jobs in chinuch and other Jewish areas.

Talk is cheap - but it is a start. What is needed now are level headed and down-to-earth people to get together and organise. I am prepared to use this email address as a start ( or if someone else is prepared to step forward as an organiser kol hakavod! It will take a lot of intestinal fortitude but will be worth it when we see schools turning out frum, chassidish children.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rabbi (Yossel) Gutnick Visits Gush Katif


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Gutnick took a trip to Gush Katif today in order to complete his preparations for a huge campaign he is planning in order to halt the expulsion plan. Rabbi Gutnick and his wife, accompanied by journalist, Shmuel Shmueli, and Rabbi Hillel Horowits, started out at Elei Sinai in the north of Gaza. The guests were led by Rabbi Bar Chen, Rabbi of the north of Gaza and Avi Parchan who was formerly driven out of Yamit. Rabbi Gutnick viewed the power station and the petrol tanks in Ashkelon at a distance of no more than 4 kilometers from Elei Sinai.

The guests met with students of the 'Maaleh Ephraim' Yeshiva who have relocated and are now students in Elei Sinai. The yeshiva's management asked for a contingent of Chabad bochrim to reinforce the settlement. The group set out from there to Neve Dekalim, and was hosted at the home of Reb Yigal Kirshenzaft where they had lunch. As they arrived they heard the sound of mortar shells which just fallen and the settlers were instructed to take shelter in secure spaces. The visitors davened Minchah in the new yeshiva which was recently opened by Reb Eli Poltrack who arrived with a group of bochrim from New York. Rabbi Gutnick addressed the bochrim at this occassion.

Comment on Gush Katif

I have been fortunate to get permission from Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick to publish comments on the Gush Katif situation. He emphasised to me that these comments are his own personal opinion and not a psak or specific post. It is a private opinion expressed in clarification of some misrepresentations of his opinions that have been mentioned here and in other places.
Thank you Rabbi Gutnick for your comments.

I think the reason why blogsites, of whatever nature, will not receive official comments from the "powers that be" is that many of the anonymous posters, especially if they hold dissenting views, tend to attack/revile the messenger and not the message –despite some laudable attempts at times by some well-meaning moderators to limit this. While it is important that there be forums to raise and debate such issues I do not believe that the anonymous nature of a blogsite is the most effective or constructive method of doing so.

Nevertheless I believe I have been quoted on at least one blogsite re the Gush Katif situation, so, despite some hesitation, I think I need to make further comment.

I had been approached from a number of individuals to express an opinion on the activities being organised in our community regarding the current situation in Israel and I had replied in general terms. In view of the way I have since been indiscriminately quoted I think that I now need to be a little more specific.

There are three issues involved in the question at hand.

The first issue is that, to my knowledge, all Torah-true authorities are unanimous in the belief that the evacuation of the settlements in Gaza and elsewhere are a real sakonah for Israel and the Jewish people there. I do not need to elaborate on the Halachic issues – they have been well publicised in numerous forums. Certainly the Lubavitcher Rebbe's opinion regarding the dangers and issur of giving back land is particularly well known and well documented. To me this issue is beyond question. In the current circumstance in Israel there should be no "land for peace" deals.

The second issue is what form of action should be taken by us in Chutz La'Aretz to promote and implement that point of view? In the past, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (who, quite apart from his spiritual cognisance, through his vast personal following and contacts was without doubt the most informed of all Rabbinic leaders) has unambiguously and specifically condemned the resort to public demonstrations as counter-productive and dangerous. It has been argued that the circumstances that elicited such opposition may have been different to the current situation. On the other hand there are those that argue that for security and unity reasons, and where such street demonstration in particular publicly highlights the issue of Jew against Jew, there is even more reason to refrain from public demonstrations on this issue. The acceptable course of action in these circumstances would surely be shev v'al ta'aseh odif ("if in doubt – don't") and we would need to maintain the opposition to public street demonstrations – at least in Chutz LaAretz – unless, of course, there is a clear and specific heter from reliable and responsible halachic authorities for any particular public protest. (This policy may be more flexible in Eretz Yisrael where the voice of the people, expressed through peaceful demonstration, may indeed have more positive effect and a direct impact on government and government policy. But even in such circumstances this would be up to the relevant authorities in Israel to assess - based on their more intimate knowledge of the positive effectiveness and consequences of any such demonstrations as opposed to negative consequences and results.)

This does not mean that we in Chutz La'aretz should remain inactive. Far from it. Firstly, Chazal have told us over and over again that at a time of an evil decree we need to resort to Teshuvah Tephillah and Tzedokoh. Rather than engage in questionable public street demonstrations, our activists, and indeed all of us, should channel activities into promoting, within our community, these methods that have been taught to us by Chazal as being the most effective and positive. A peaceful and non-political community gathering, promoting Teshuva, Tephillah and Tzedokoh would have resulted in a much more unified and constructive response than the current unilateral and divisive proposed street march. Certainly these three issues of Teshuvah, Tephillah and Tzedokoh also need to be encouraged to be translated into our private lives as well. Properly organised communal information sessions, written protests/petitions to Sharon, other members of Knesset and others of influence as well as appropriate advertisements (in appropriate forums) etc are all effective methods of action and protest that probably would have been more universally accepted and ultimately more productive.

In general, those, from all sides, purporting to represent the voice of the community in this issue should have been more consultative with other communal authorities and particularly with Daas Torah. This may have then averted the current controversy over the proposed street march here in Melbourne that is not only questionable as to whether it will be of any positive benefit but has, unfortunately, caused divisiveness and disunity amongst those who are in reality otherwise united in their opposition to the current withdrawal policy.

The third issue is the reaction to any actual forced relocation of the people of Gush Katif and elsewhere that may, G-d forbid, eventually take place. There is no question in my mind that the Rebbe, and indeed any other responsible Torah authority, would be totally against any action that would result in one Jew harming another. Nothing other than "passive/non-violent resistance" should be practiced, advocated or condoned in this entire issue.

May HaShem have rachmonus on us and grant us, and particularly those in Eretz Yisrael, the sechel to do what will best result in the safety, security and unity of all our people wherever they may be found until the imminent arrival of the Geula Shlaima.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick

Bombing in Netanya

I woke up this morning to the news of another bombing in Israel. Click on the links for news reports from Haaretz, Arutz Sheva & Australian ABC.

It sort of puts things in perspective. More Jews being killed for nothing.

While the problems in our school are extremely important and need to be addressed urgently spare a thought for the Israeli public who has to deal with matters of life and death every day.
Maybe we should stop vilifying the organisers of the Gush Katif demonstration and realise that they are motivated by the situation in Israel. While we may not agree with all their tactics unless we move to Israel we are fairly impotent sitting here in Australia.

I think that we should all take some time out today to say a few extra kapitelach tehillim for the victims of this latest atrocity and the situation in Israel in general.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

YBR Colleges – Enough is Enough

It pains me to have to write this post but, after all the comments on this blog and the discussions I have had with Anash over the last 10-15 years, the time has come for the chinuch problem at Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah to be addressed. The tragic situation of our children having less of a commitment to frumkeit than we would like and even leaving yiddishkeit altogether is touching many, many families in our community. Not just the less committed families but even those families genuinely frum and chassidish. It is an epidemic that is effecting everyone and we, and our leaders, cannot just sit back and blame the families of these children. We send our children to a school that is under the name of the Rebbe and we have a right to expect a certain basic standard of Jewish education.

Obviously the schools cannot take 100% of the blame. We cannot blame the administration and say “I pay my school fees now you educate my children correctly” - if we ourselves do not live in a chassidish manner.

I am going to list all the problems as I see them and some possible fixes and solutions. I admit that I am not an educator or rabbi but feel that many of the issues can be addressed by applying some plain common sense.

Judging from the comments made about the education at YBR I expect there to be many comments here. There is no necessity to name particular people who you feel are to blame – despite being loshon hora it will not contribute to the solution. If names are mentioned I will delete the comment.
Another request I would like to make is that you read your comment before publishing it. Spelling and grammatical mistakes make the comment difficult to understand and sometimes even changes the meaning.

I would like to make a request of the Yeshivah Executive and administration. If you are reading this I welcome your input in this matter – the best input would be to explain how you will rectify the faults. If you email me at I will publish your reply.

As I see it these are the problems at YBR (in no particular order of importance):

· How is the money received spent? Fees are high, especially if one has more than 2 children in the school, but there does not seem to be accountablilty. Every organisation and business has to produce at least a balance sheet or profit and loss statement. For countless years money has been asked (demanded) from the communtity but there is no accounting for how this money is spent. This leaves the school and executive open to accusations of financial mismanagement.
· In contrast there are people who are not paying full fees but who can take their families on overseas holidays, drive new cars, have expensive and ostentatious simchas etc. This problem, which will certainly be pointed out by the administration. How does the school get people to pay equitably - this is a difficult problem wih no easy solution.
· The influence of non-frum children in the school seems to be out of proportion to their numbers. In the 60s and 70s there were more children from non religious families but many of them became frum or at least respectful towards yiddishkeit. Today it seems that kids from frum familes are leading others astray.
· Teachers, particularly in Yeshivah, do not have appropriate qualifications. Men coming out of Kollel are given jobs as teachers and, despite some of them being good teachers, have never studied educational principles. Even in 770 there are organised programs for Kollel men who want to go into chinuch.
· There is too much of an emphasis on secular studies -especially at year 11 and 12 level. What appears to be important to the administration is results in external exams. It is well known that in the past students who were not academically proficient were encouraged to leave before year 11 so that the results would look good. I do not know if this still happens. As Chabad schools the emphasis should be on learning Torah and keeping Mitzvos.
· It appears to me that there is a general embarrassment among some in the administration that the schools are Chabad schools. This is more prevalent in Beth Rivkah which at times appears to be a sister school to Yavneh.
· I agree with many of the comments here that Yiddish should be taught more extensively in both schools. Modern Hebrew is emphasised at Beth Rivkah (see point above).
· This brings us to the problem at Beth Rivkah with Hebrew pronunciation. I believe that BR in Melbourne is the only BR in the world that teaches the children sefardic hebrew pronunciation. I understand that a few years ago they started teaching the kids in ashkenasic hebrew but this was stopped after a few months. This is another way that the Beth Rivkah administration distances itself from Chabad.
· While on the topic of Beth Rivkah the issue of tzniyus must be mentioned. For some reason there is very little emphasis on tzniyus for girls in the Melbourne community. This is not just the school's fault but mothers, who are into the latest fashions, do not seem to care how their girls dress. Even so the school should be at the forefront and encourage the girls to dress in a Jewish way.
· At Yeshivah in particular only children who fit into certain parameters are catered for. If children are too smart, not so academic, have problems at home etc they are encouraged to leave. We are losing too many kids because the administration is unable and unwilling to work with parents and educational professionals to ensure that "problem" kids can remain in school. The saddest thing to me is to see is children from frum families being forced to attend other Jewish schools or even secular schools.
· The father and son learning programs organised separately from the school should be expanded as part of the schools. I would like to see father-daughter learning programs as well.
· The nepotism in our schools and community is becoming ridiculous. Guests who were here for recent weddings even mentioned their observations about this to me. There are extremely talented teachers, rabbis etc who are not related to the "families" who are passed over because of this.
· There has been a recent attempt by some young parents to open an alternate school where they could ensure that their children were educated in a frum, chassidish way. Nothing came of this as the organisers were shouted at and threatened.
· The one person who did manage to start a school to help children who had problems in Yeshivah has also been threatened. While the school has started there were many behind the scenes actions by the Yeshivah executive which caused them much hardship.

There are also issues that we as parents must also address seriously:

· We cannot abdicate our responsibility of showing our kids a living example of frumkeit and chassidishkeit. While the schools have their responsibility to provide a decent education we must follow through at home by learning with our kids and just showing them how a frum, chassidish person should behave.
· I have heard too many parents criticise the teachers and school in front of their children. How can we blame the teachers for not controlling the class when the children know that their parents do not respect the teachers and will always side with their children over the teacher?
· These days I see so few kids sitting and davening with their parents in shul. How can they learn how to daven and have a feeling for yiddishkeit if they see their parents talking all thru davening and “knocking off” davening in a few minutes.
· There are lots of other common sense things that all parents, Jewish or not, should do – know where your children are and who they are with, do not let them view videos, the internet or read books without your approval, etc etc

This has been a very long post and it has taken me a long time to write. No doubt I have missed some points and I encourage you to submit your ideas in a respectful way. I know that this is a sensitive and emotional issue for some but the only way we can make a difference is presenting our ideas in a clear and thoughtful way.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A letter of the Rebbe to Ariel Sharon

An interesting and powerful letter to Ariel Sharon from the Rebbe appears in translation on the Save the Land of Israel blog. Click here to read the letter.

According to the blog: This letter in its original Hebrew has been translated and reprinted from the sefer Karasi Ve'en Oneh, Sichos of the Rebbe on Shleimus Haaretz (vol 2 page 450) - Translator

The Ohel

See more photos from the Ohel here.

Community Tribute

[Photo from the mid 1970s]

Rabbi Mendel Gluckowsky spoke very well on Motzoei Shabbos in my (not so) humble opinion. Fortunately the MC was very brief - usually they want to give a long speech as well - and Gluckowsky spoke for about an hour.

He had a number of ideas that he wanted to emphasise which he did clearly with quite a few relevant stories. Two of the main points were ideas that I wanted to bring out in my post last night - the individual attention and concern that the Rebbe gave to everyone and the importance of mivtzoim.

Gluckowsky illustrated the importance of mivtzoim with a story of the Chiddushei HaRim who was walking in the town when a rich man passed in his carriage and offered him a ride. During the trip the rich man asked him why Hashem has given him all these riches. The man confessed to not keeping Torah and Mitzvos and said that he has read in Shema that we should not pursue false gods as it will lead to punishment by heaven. He asked if I do not do mitzvos why am I so wealthy. The Chiddushei HaRim answered that the wealthy man had already supplied the answer. The fact that he had recited the Shema shows that he has some merits which is why he is wealthy.

He related other stories about mivtza tefillin etc which all emphasise the chizuk and benefit to be derived from doing a mitzva even once. The Rebbe wanted us to have a positive effect on the world around us.

He spoke about how the Rebbe cares for everyone with many stories about the brochos received from the Rebbe. He mentioned a story with the Capland family - Shlomo Capland obm used to be a melamed in the schools here in Melbourne.

All in all it was an inspiring evening and worth attending.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Mazal Tov Shluchim

This advert appeared in the Melbourne Jewish News this week (sorry that the scan is crooked!! Click on it to see it enlarged.)

It is great to see that the Kollel yungerleit are finally getting jobs in Australia. We have lost too many young people with great potential to overseas positions. These 3 young couples, and another who is yet to be announced, are going out into the community and doing the Rebbe's work. We should be supporting them in any way we can. This does not just mean help in monetary terms but we should see if there is any type of help we can give them to aid them in their shlichus.

As a follow on from the previous post I feel that if we as a community and individually put more emphasis on mivtzoim it would benefit us all - including our children. This does not mean that we wait for someone to tell us what to do. We all know that the Melbourne Chabad establishment is not interested in outreach of any type - we must decide where our talents can best be used and just go out and do the job.

For those that are concerned about "inreach" to our own families (which is all of us) - surely when our children see that we are not just concerned about ourselves and we are sincerely concerned with helping other yidden this will cause them to see yiddishkeit in a positive way. There is no guarantee that this will stem the negative tide but it seems obvious to me that it must have an influence. Maybe what I am advocating is simplistic but we must start somewhere.

Gimmel Tammuz!!!

11 years! It is difficult to believe that 11 years have passed since the histalkus of the Rebbe.

One thing appears obvious to me - we must continue the Rebbe's work by doing, or at least contributing to, mivtzoim. OK, I know that this is nothing new. Some of you may say it is the "party line" or whatever but the fact is the Rebbe put most of his emphasis into caring for yidden everywhere. This caring is carried out in a practical way by reaching out to other jews and bringing them closer to yiddishkeit. (I will write more about this in another post)

The Rebbe treated every single Jew, and non-Jew, as an important person in themselves. Looking at the lines of people waiting to spend a few moments or even seconds with the Rebbe during "dollars" on a Sunday morning one would see Jews and non-Jews from all places and walks of life. During Sukkos when the Rebbe said a sicha every evening there were shtreimals and spodics along with the borsalinos and knitted kippot in attendance. These scenes I witnessed personally.
There is the story of the policeman who named his son Mendel in honour of the Rebbe...these and other inspiring stories show the public face of the Rebbe's caring.

An older couple (not Lubavitchers) were in New York in the late 1980s and I had arranged for them to attend a group yechidus. One comment made an impact on me - the woman said that after the Rebbe spoke everyone filed past to give the Rebbe a note and receive a dollar to be given to charity. With the 100 or more people in attendance she expected the Rebbe to be giving the dollars out in a casual manner. What struck her was that the Rebbe looked at every person and directed his attention at them individually as they walked past.

The story that I witnessed personally happened one summer Friday night in 770. [By way of introduction it is well known that the Rebbe was extremely careful to use his time to the fullest. They say that when the Rebbe returned to his room after davening that by the time Laibl Groner walked into the room - a few seconds behind the Rebbe - the Rebbe was already seated with a sefer open.] I was davening near the front of shul close to the Rebbe. When davening finished the Rebbe would turn around and say "Good Shabbos" to the people close by and then walk back to his office. On this occassion there was a man and his disabled son (it appeared that he had a mental disability) standing close to the Rebbe. The Rebbe stood and waved at the boy who at first didn't see the Rebbe. It took about 60 seconds for the boy to notice the Rebbe and during this time the Rebbe was standing, waving and smiling at the boy until he was noticed.

The Rebbe cared (cares) about every Jew. Maybe this Gimmel Tammuz we should resolve to do the same.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Gush Katif 2

I was hoping to spend a few minutes before Shabbos writing a post about more positive things but since the Gush Katif saga has caused a lot of comment in this blog (many I suspect from the same persons) I feel that I have to make a few comments of my own.

The original article and many, many comments is here.

I was forwarded an email from the chairman of Australian Friends of Gush Katif & Shomron, Moshe Elkman. He expresses what he sees as the positive aspects of the rally to be held on 19 July but also warns against negative actions that some have commented on here.
In the interest of fairness I will add the email to the first comment after this post.

Some interesting comments were made by Jake in Jerusalem regarding this topic. Jake is known by many people in Melbourne as he lived here for a number of years. He also spent many years in America and has lived in Israel in the past and is living there again. Jake is knowledgeable about Israeli (and US and Australian) politics and has, in my opinion, a level headed attitude. I suggest that you read his post which I believe summarises the problem well.

Another correspondent, "Millhouse", another ex-Melburnian living in New York, who is also known for his action on behalf of Israel, is also against the disengagement. A couple of his points are:

  • Demos in Melbourne won't stop the expulsion. The only purpose can be to arouse public sympathy, which might translate into pressure from the general community on the Israeli government. Except that Sharon doesn't care what anyone thinks, he never has.
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe was against public demos against the USSR. I am not aware of his ever having commented on demos against Israel. The reason he gave for opposing demos against the USSR was that every time there was a demo, the government retaliated against the Jews, vehatzel lo hitzalta et amecha - nothing positive was achieved. Others, with access to much the same information, saw things differently. The whole analysis doesn't really apply to the current situation. I don't see how demos in Melbourne can really help, but I'm even more certain that they can't hurt the situation in Israel (how they affect community relations in Melbourne is another matter).
I agree that the public march and demonstration will solve nothing. A meeting to discuss the problem and say tehillim (which in all fairness is part of the programme) will help much more.

The horror in London

I am sure that we have all been listening to and reading the news reports about the terrorist attack in London. As I write the fatalities have reached 52 with over 700 injured in the blasts. As Jews with a connection to Israel we can appreciate the horror that the families of the victims and indeed all Londoners must be going through.

We should keep in mind during davening this Shabbos all victims of terror throughout the world.

The world needs Moshiach, Now!!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Rabbi Glukowsky in Melbourne

From COL with a photo of the farbrengan at YG last night:

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Glucowsky, shliach and Rabbi of Anash in Rechovot, was guest of the Chabad community in Melbourne, Australia. During his stay, Rabbi Glucowsky is scheduled to farbreing in several Chabad centers in Sydney and in Melbourne, but the major event will be held this Motsai Shabbos in presence of a large crowd. The Rabbi's first destination was the Yeshiva Gedola in Melbourne, which he valued, knowing he Rebbe's high regard for this institute. There Rabbi Glucowsky inspired the attentive crowd with meaningful stories and practical lessons. When asked to speak about current events, Rabbi Glucowsky proclaimed that our response to the disengagement is 'connection'. This is achieved by fulfilling the Rebbe's directives especially concerning internal matters between Anash and the temimim.

Something in common?

On ABC radio's AM program yesterday morning the following was reported. I have quoted most of the interview and you can read the complete transcript here.

Is this so different from what we believe?

TONY EASTLEY: Less than two months after being elected to run the municipal council in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, the militant group Hamas is being accused of introducing Taliban-style rules on the city. The acting Mayor, who's also a Hamas member, has banned a popular Palestinian festival because it supposedly violates Islamic values. He's told AM that the festival encourages young men and women to mix, and possibly even dance together. Our Middle East Correspondent, Mark Willacy, reports from Qalqiliya.
MARK WILLACY: Under the summer sky in cities and towns across the West Bank this month, Palestinians have been celebrating their culture through traditional song and dance.For seven years the Palestinian International Festival has been a resounding success. But in one West Bank city the show has been cancelled. Two months ago, the people of Qalqiliya elected Hamas members to every seat on the municipal council. And now the council has banned the Palestinian International Festival. Hashem al-Masri is Qalqiliya's acting mayor.
HASHEM AL-MASRI (translated): According to our society the men should be isolated from the women. They shouldn't mix at events like the festival. The festival should respect our Islamic heritage so men and women should not be dancing together.
MARK WILLACY: Qalqiliya is the first major West Bank town to elect Hamas to its council. The largest Palestinian militant group, Hamas's main aim is to establish an Islamic state on all of historic Palestine. Qalqiliya's elected mayor – Hamas activist, Wajih Nazzal – is in an Israeli jail. His stand-in, Hashem al-Masri says the Hamas council is only responding to the will of the people in banning the festival.
HASHEM AL-MASRI (translated): There is only five per cent of the population who want the festival. If you like, you can ask people on the street and more than 90 per cent will tell you they are against the festival.
---- snip ----
MARK WILLACY: Across the West Bank, Palestinians are celebrating their heritage through song and dance. But in Qalqiliya, the Koran takes precedence over traditional culture.This is Mark Willacy in Qalqiliya for AM.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Gut Chodesh

These are some sites you may want to peruse as Gimmel Tammuz approaches:

From earlier years

I saw this on It must be very soon after the histalkus of the Previous Rebbe.

I wish that I would have said this!

In this fairly long comment I recon that "Aussie Shliach" has hit the spot.

Aussie Shliach said...

Many of the comments on this site about setting up a new insular Chabad community are typical of the philosophy and actions of the seperatist chareidi communities of Williamsburgh and Bnai Brak - that philosophy is also probably why the option of sending our Chabad children to Adass is also being promoted as a viable option. I am not knocking or criticising those who live that lifestyle - they may be fine examples of frum and committed communities - HOWEVER THIS INSULAR ATTITUDE, NO MATTER HOW ATTRACTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE, HAS SIMPLY NEVER BEEN THE DERECH OF CHABAD AND CERTAINLY NOT THE DERECH OF OUR REBBE IN PARTICULAR.

Our Rebbe sent his most loyal and dedicated Chassidim to towns and areas where there was no Jewish dayschool, no kosher butcher shop, no orthodox Shule, no mikvah etc etc etc. These shluchim would have absolutely revelled in having the type of facilities and educational institutions that we have in Melbourne (warts and all). And then many of them put their kids on the line, in surroundings far far worse than anything here in Melbourne, and they expected their kids to mix with the freist of the frei. They expected their children to be part of their work in the pursuit of fulfilling their shlichus in establishing Chabad Houses and schools etc that were not selfishly established for their own kids but for all. And guess what? The vast vast majority of these Shluchim nevertheless raised their children with chassidishe hashkofos and hanhogois. In my travels and in my own personal experience I constantly marvel at the maturity, dedication and sincerity which even the youngest of the Tzeirei HaShluchim display in such circumstances. As they grow up, the vast majority of these children in turn are/were motivated not to become comfortable baalabattim, thinking of their own comfort and needs, but to continue on with the selfless Shlichus work of their parents and of their Rebbe.

The Rebbe told many a shaliach that the responsibility for their chidren was on his shoulders. These were not just encouraging words. Those who have tried their best to remain true to their duties as the Rebbe's shluchim have seen this befeirush translated into Nachas and success even in the harshest of circumstances.

The real problem is that many members of our community, appear to have lost sight of what Lubavitch is supposed to be and what we as Lubavitchers are supposed to be doing. We have become so overly concerned with our own personal needs and selfish lifestyles and have moved away from the misaras nefesh required of us as selfless Shluchim of the Rebbe dedicated to the shlichus that the Rebbe gave TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. By all means, in normal circumstances and al pi teveh maybe we would need to think along the lines of the other speratist chareidishe groups - but, as the moderator of this site has also said elsewhere and I repeat again, this is simply NOT OUR DERECH and these are not normal times. The sepratist's pursuit of salvation for himself and his family may dictate a retreat into an insular community BUT IF WE DO SO THEN WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO CALL OURSELVES A TRUE CHABAD COMMUNITY OR SHLUCHIM OF OUR REBBE - WHICH OUR REBBE WANTED EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US TO BE. If we would spend more time reaching out to others and doing the hafotzas hamayonois that our Rebbe wanted of us rather than moaning about our own selfish needs (no matter how justified this may appear to be) then I am convinced that we would not be plagued with the balaabatishe krankheit (right OR left extremes) that is unfortunately gaining momentum at the moment. Our Rebbe's brochois would then surely be there to protect us and our children and we would not have to scramble around looking for other eitzois that probably aren't feasible or wont work anyway.

You want CHASSIDISHE nachas from your children? There is no sure guarantee - but in these last moments of golus we surely need to cease the negativism and carping (or is THIS the kind of example that we wnat to give our children?!). If we were honestly involved in the Rebbe's work, each in our own way, and not just in the pursuit of our own comforts (begashmiois or beruchniyois) then I am sure that our children would respect us and learn from us, and would not turn away Ch"V from the example that our Rebbe has taught us to set for them.

How are we going to greet Moshiach? With our kids in Adass and as members of a (very fine but) insular community as has been proposed here - or with our heads held high in the knowledge that we have gone out into the world - with our children by our sides - as Shluchei Adoneinu having done our bit to live with and be mekareiv every single Jew here down under? That's our avoida today as taught to us by our Rebbe - anything else is atzas hayeitzer!

I don't see any other workable practical solution being proposed here. So I say forget the carping and negativism - We all have to go out there positively and do what we can in our own Torah and mitzvois and in hafotzas hamayonois...and I am convinced that while still remaining true to our chabad heritage we will then also reap the reciprocal brochois that our Rebbe has promised each of his Shluchim (and -for the third (fourth?) time - WE ARE ALL POTENTIALLY HIS SHLUCHIM) in Bonei Chayei Umezonei ad bias Goel BB"M.

A request

As it is approaching Gimmel Tammuz I would like to post some stories of the Rebbe. We have all read dozens of stories but I would like to hear of events that happened to you or someone close to you. It would be great if the story related to Australia in some way but that is not essential.

I will be posting a couple of stories - one which I witnessed and the other told to me by a close friend regarding their yechidus with the Rebbe.

If you have something to share please email me at I think we will all benefit from hearing positive stories and messages.

A little light relief


10 things not to say to a policeman

1. I can't reach my license unless you hold my beer. (OK in Texas)
2. Sorry, Officer, I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in
3.Aren't you the guy from the Village People?
4. Hey, you must've been doin' about 125 mph to keep up with me. Good job!
5. I thought you had to be in relatively good physical condition to be a police officer.
6. You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?
7. I pay your salary!
8. Gee, Officer! That's terrific. The last officer only gave me a warning, too!

9. I was trying to keep up with traffic. Yes, I know there are no other cars around...That's how far ahead of me they are.
10. When the Officer says "Gee ..Your eyes look red, have you been drinking?" You probably shouldn't respond with,"Gee Officer your eyes look glazed, have you been eating doughnuts?"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What we need...

A few commentors on this blog have discussed sending Lubavitch children to Adass Yisroel - Melbourne's charedi school. Is this what we really want for our children? Surely if we consider ourselves chassidim of Lubavitch we want a truly Lubavitch chassidic education for our kids.

Maybe some will ask why not send our kids to is a frum school run by frum yidden. Surely they will get their Chabad influence at home - just like the Gerrer, Satmar, Bobov and misnagdisher will get the flavour of their groups at home.
Fortunately Chabad is different from other chassidic groups in that it demands more than just an attachment to a Rebbe (or Rosh Yeshiva for our "Litvisher" friends). Chabad is a "lifestyle". It permeates our entire life and effects how we live our lives. Almost every Addas yungerman has a goyishe name when at work outside the community. Almost every Lubavitcher is proudly known by their Jewish name. Other chassidic groups will "intermarry" - a Bobov girl marries a Satmar boy etc. Most of our children wouldn't dream of marrying someone who was not a Lubavitcher - this is because both men and women are chassidim of the Rebbe and want to live a Chabad chassidic lifestyle (whatever they interpret that to mean).

What I am saying is that Chabad is unique in that the Rebbe made a lot of demands on his chassidim which, at times, are difficult to live up to. We become better people by stretching ourselves and trying to reach new spiritual heights. If Melbourne had a real Chabad chassidic education our children would realise this and be proud to be chassidim of the Rebbe.

From comments on previous posts in this blog it appears that many people feel this way. The challenge is to get past all the noise made by certain leaders of the community and to get a groundswell going to change the community. How to achieve this bepoel I do not know....

770 (the Eastern Parkway one)

I love this photo from Shmais. It brings back memories....

For the 770 deprived these guys are "tzedokah collectors" having a well earned break from their labours.

Me and My Blog

In one of the comments someone asked who I am. They seemed frustrated that I am not revealing my identity and suggest that I have something to hide.

The reason that I am reticent to reveal who I am is just because of that attitude. I believe that my opinions on this blog should stand by themselves and not depend on who is saying them. The other reason that I am not stating who I am is that I do not do not relish being abused in the streets of Caulfield or in shul. I have found that there are some folk who cannot handle opinions contrary to theirs and I have no desire to be their punching bag. I do not expect everyone to agree with my ideas and I hope this blog provides a forum for them to express their opinions in a calm and rational manner.


While I am on the topic of the blog I would like to make a couple of requests with regards to commenting on posts. I enjoy reading the comments and find that they provide a lot of food for thought. But please keep in mind:

  • Please sign your comments with a name - I don't care what it is (as long as it is not offensive). In my blogging experience I have found that this helps to be able to follow the flow of the comments
  • Please do not make abusive and hateful comments about individual people. In fact please keep any vitriol (good word Mendel) out of your comments. It does not serve any constructive purpose and I will delete abusive comments.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Gimmel Tammuz events in Melbourne

This year it appears Rabbi Mendel Glukowsky from Rechovot in Israel is being brought to Melbourne to speak at various Gimmel Tammuz events. He will be speaking at a number of functions at various Chabad Houses and shuls and at the main community event this motzoei Shabbos at the Werdiger Hall. This community event is usually quite good with a couple of "minor" speeches and the main address by the guest speaker. Then comes what is now de rigueur at all major Chabad events and farbrengen - the video. (It seems that if one doesn't have a TV at home this is the next best thing!) Actually the video is usually quite good.

My only criticism is that there is a cover charge for the community event. I believe that if we want the "community" to attend and not just Lubavitchers it should be a free event - by all means request donations - but do not have a set charge. I understand that speakers cost money to bring out but if we really believe that the Rebbe was the Rebbe of all Jewry then we should try to attract all Jews to a function to honour him. The problem is that in Melbourne most of Chabad has become very insular and only the few Chabad Houses and some individuals are doing "outreach". The "powers that be" therefore assume that noone other than Chabadniks will be interested in honouring the Rebbe's memory.

Be that as it may, Gluckowsky is a good speaker and worth hearing.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Leading up to Gimmel Tammuz

This article appeared in the Jewish Week (from New York) and is a sad reminder that the Rebbe is no longer with us physically. Click here for the article.

We really need Moshiach now!!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chizuk for Tzemach!

Over the past number of months I have been an avid follower of mentalblog ( written by Tzemach Atlas in Boston. It appears that Tzemach has finally had enough of the crap one gets when putting one's ideas out there in blogger land - not that I blame him. If you haven't visited this blog previously I urge you to check it out.

Tzemach comes across to me as an honest guy who is concerned about the state of the Jewish world today especially in relation to the former Soviet Union and Chabad. I do not always agree with his opinions but definitely respect the way he presents his point of view. He is open to other people's ideas and will discuss them in an honest way. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who cannot accept that someone has a different opinion to them. These people obviously have low self esteem and insist on abusing anyone who does not agree with them. What bugs me is that some of them use their convoluted view of what Yiddishkeit and/or the Rebbe says to "prove" their point.

One commenter on mentalblog had the following to say which I agree with 100%:
I don't have any answers, unfortunately. Sounds like you have something good to offer in a sea of mediocrity. Turning off comments, I find, hasn't been enough. It's not the comments, as much as the general toxic, dumb, and puerile attitude that seems to prevail on the net and all over the J blogosphere.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Gush Katif

I have been informed of 3 events to be held this week with regard to informing the Melbourne community of the "disengagement" from Gush Katif.

It seems that the frum community, which usually gets all excited about events in Israel, is ignoring this issue. Some people tell me that there is a question of whether Gaza is actually a part of "greater Israel". Others say that it will appease the arabs (fat chance!). Still others seem to be embarrassed to be seen opposing PM Sharon since he has always been the darling of the political right.

To me there is a basic problem of ejecting people from their homes and businesses. Period.

These are the events. It is good that two of them involve the general Jewish community rather than the frum community only.

1) Kiddush and farbrengen this Shabbos as Kimberley (441 Inkerman Street) with Mr Michael Kleiner (Chariman of the Herut Party in Israel) and Rabbi Joseph Gutnick at 12 noon after davening

2) Mr Kleiner will be speaking at Beth Weizman Sunday 3rd July 8pm

3) Brigadier General Ruth Yaron (Official IDF Spokesperson) will be speaking at State Zionist Council meeting Beth Weizman Tuesday July 12th 8pm

For more information go to the Australian Friends of Gush Katif and Shomron website

An interesting outlook

I went to a farewell of a work colleague last night and was listening to a very interesting conversation. This colleague, who is in his late 20s, had just proposed to his girlfriend and was discussing his outlook on marriage and relationships. Last year they purchased a house together which they are living in and he was talking about having kids. He felt that he would have preferred to have a child before they got married. The conversation went something like this -- we own our house and I think it would be good to have a child, and get that over with, before we do the wedding thing.

Am I just an old fart or does he have everything backward?!

In my mind two people getting married demonstrates a committment to each other. I understand that this makes sense in the Jewish community and other traditional communities but is it obsolete in the general (read non-Jewish) community of 2005?

Aussie Echo

Welcome to the first post of my new blog coming to you from Melbourne, Australia.

After viewing other people's blogs over the last few months I have decided to add my 2c worth to the mix. My specific interests are in the Jewish communities in Melbourne and Sydney and also in the Chabad/Lubavitch world in general.

Please feel free to comment on any of my posts as I value your opinion. The caveat is that I will not tolerate abusive or disrespectful posts.