Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Sad Situation

I have refrained from mentioning this extremely uncomfortable subject for a number of weeks but now believe that it is time that we extracted our heads from the sand and recognised this sad situation. What I am talking about is the current fiasco in Adelaide where Rabbi Yossi Engel has refused to leave his pulpit despite his contract not being renewed. To add to this is the accusation that he received money from the government under false pretenses for a school which didn't exist. And to make matters worse the Sydney and Melbourne Batei Din seem powerless to resolve this and the London Beth Din, who have been called in as a last resort, appear not to want to become embroiled in this bun fight.

There is another aspect of this situation which is also worrying. Rabbi Engel and the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation have taken this case to the secular courts. The courts have ruled on two occasions that this is a civil matter to do with his contract and not one that can or should be decided by Jewish law.

What we have been seeing in the Jewish and secular press appears to put Rabbi Engel in a bad light. I am more than happy to present his side of the story as I do not believe that he has had a fair go in the press - this could be because, so far, he has refused to give his side.

But whatever his side may be the facts are that this dispute, and the revelations about his school, have caused much hurt and damage to the Adelaide Jewish community. This is an extremely small community which is not growing as the youth tend to leave for Sydney or Melbourne when they reach university age. This community needs all the support from larger Jewish communities as we can give them.

Despite the fact that the courts have ruled that this is purely a contractual dispute, I strongly believe that the Sydney and Melbourne Batei Din should be working overtime to ensure that there is a resolution to this matter which is acceptable to both parties. Even if it was proven that Yossi Engel was unfairly dismissed there has been too much damage done for him to stay on as Rabbi. The Adelaide community needs a new Rabbi so that they can begin the healing process and get back on a stable footing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Photos of YG Siyum Sefer Torah

Joe Salter and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Binyomin Cohen has photos by everyone's favourite photographer Roei Chemny of the Siyum Sefer Torah at Yeshivah Gedolah last month. The Sefer Torah was donated by Mrs Elizabeth Slater and Joe & Batia Slater in memory of Mr John Slater.

As the article accompanying the photos says "John Slater’s reputation in business and the Jewish community was one of absolute integrity, kindness, and generosity." It is a great tribute to Mr Slater and fitting that this Sefer Torah be donated to Yeshivah Gedolah where it will be used regularly.

Tisha B'Av at the Kotel

There are some interesting photo essays of people "commemorating" Tisha B'Av at the Kotel on Arutz Sheva and COL. Arutz 7 claims that there were over 100,000 people at the Kotel on Monday night and Tuesday. With all these people remembering and mourning the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh isn't it about time that this day was wiped off the calendar??!! We want Moshiach now!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

YG Shluchim in Fiji

Sholom Cunin, Berel Lerman and Fiji resident Peter Bott
at the island’s first Tanya printing

Shluchim from Yeshivah Gedolah again went on Merkos Shlichus to Fiji. The report on talks about how they printed the Tanya there.

A pair of Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students printed what is suspected to be the first Hebrew book to ever be published in the republic of Fiji.

The two students came to the island nation to reach out to its tiny Jewish community as part of Chabad's summer peace corps-like program.

While there, they commissioned a printing of the Tanya, the foundational chassidic treatise penned by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe. The printing represents the 5241st time the Tanya, the second-most printed book in the world has been published.

While most of the Jews there were surprised by the students' visit, says Berel Lerman, they "were always ushered in to their home or office with a smile."

Following the printing, the pair gathered together some of the local Jews and studied from the Fiji edition of Tanya.

"Community members were excited when they heard about the printing of the first Hebrew book on the Island," reported Sholom Cunin.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Beis Hamikdosh

How the Third Beis Mamikdosh will look in situ
(click on the photo for a larger view)

I just came across this interesting site which is appropriate during the "Three Weeks". The Temple Institute promotes the understanding of the Beis HaMikdosh and has some really interesting photos of the various keilim used in the Temple as well as some interesting articles.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Shluchim

From Shmais: has learned that Rabbi and Mrs. Kivi Greenbaum of Crown Heights will IYH be moving on Shlichus to Ewing, NJ where they will establish on a new Chabad House the College of New Jersey campus.

The new Shluchim were appointed by Rabbi Dovid Dubov of Chabad of Mercer County.


The new Shluchim can be reached via e-mail @

Also from Shmais about a month ago: has learned that this coming summer, Rabbi & Mrs. Yossi Grossbaum of Crown Heights will IYH be moving to Folsom, CA to establish a new Chabad house serving the Jewish Community.

The Grossbaums were appointed by Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad of Sacramento and Rabbi Shlomo Cunin head Shliach in California.


The new Shluchim can be reached via e-mail @

We also wish lots of Hatzlocho to both Aussies on their shlichus.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Shul Etiquette

Painting by Zalman Kleinman

I wrote previously about the pamphlet "You Shall Revere My Sanctuary" which discusses the concept of acting appropriately in Shul. The Yeshivah Centre website has permission to reproduce the pamphlet which can be found here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007