Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rabbi Groner's Successor?

I believe that the Yeshivah community all received the above letter from Rabbi Groner today. (click on the letter to get a larger view)

Rabbi Groner tells us that his son-in-law, Rabbi Zvi Telsner of London, will be visiting us for "several weeks" as "Dayan in Residence". We are told that he will be "delivering a range of services to the community, including providing Shiurim, speaking at Kiddushim and Farbrengens, assisting in pastoral care, and being available to answer questions of Halacha". But you can all read what he says for yourself.

For quite a while the Chabad community in Melbourne has been without real leadership. Unfortunately Rabbi Groner's health hasn't been good for a while and he isn't able to provide the strength that he once did. The younger members of our community in particular (by this I mean those in their early 30s and under) appear to be lacking in guidance and do not appear to have a positive feeling towards the Chabad community. This letter doesn't say so but, from what I have heard, Rabbi Telsner is being groomed to take over from Rabbi Groner. These are big shoes to fill (no pun intended) especially as the Melbourne Chabad community has grown so much in numbers in the time that Rabbi Groner has been here and especially in the last 10-15 years.

Due to Rabbi Groner's strong personality - and possibly the lack of young English speaking Rabbonim in Melbourne in the 1950s & 60s - he became a community leader and was (and still is) respected by the wider frum community. Times have changed, the non-Chabad frum communities are larger and self sufficient and have little to do with Rabbi Groner. On the other hand our Chabad community appears to me to be wandering aimlessly with little cohesion.

With all Rabbi Telsner's strengths and good qualities questions remain: Will he be able to be a strong centre for the community and will he have our respect and support; Will he be a mentor for the young and old in our community; Will we, as members of the community, give him a chance to prove himself. The few weeks that he will be spending here will be his testing ground. I for one wish him Hatzlocho Rabbo.