The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


Compiled by Garry Fabian

Peer Protest moves to Melbourne

MELBOURNE, 20 January – A small group of  Palestinian supporters held a protest outside the  Australian Open on Tuesday afternoon (January 19).

The Australians For Palestine group, which  numbered fewer than 10, singled out Israel’s top tenns player Shahar Peer for criticism. The  protest was peaceful, but after a time, the demonstrators were asked by police to leave.

The group, most of who were dressed in corporate  attire, held placards with a photo of Peer in her  Israel Defence Forces uniform. The slogan on the  placard read:  “Shahar Peer serves for apartheid Israel”.

According to a flyer distributed by Australians  For Palestine, Peer has been singled out because  she “has shown no understanding of the oppressive
conditions under which Palestinian athletes are  forced to live, but rather sees herself as a victim of discrimination”.

Peer, who refrains from making political  statements, has been the target of anti-Israeli  protests. Most recently, she was heckled at a  tournament in Auckland. She also came to global  attention last year when the United Arab  Emirates, host of the Dubai Tennis Championship, refused to issue the Israeli citizen with a visa.
Peer advances to second round

MELBOURNE, 21 January – Israeli tennis player  Shahar Peer has won through to the second round  of the Australian Open after defeating Czech  player Lucie Hradecka 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday (January 20).

Peer, the 29th seed, looked sluggish in the  opening set and struggled to find her rhythm  against Hradecka, who served powerfully in the early stages of the match.

Peer gave up an early break in the first set when  she failed to hold serve in the eighth game. The  rest of the set went on serve to the tie-break,  where Peer quickly fell behind 5-1. She clawed  her way back to 5-6, fending off a set-point in
the process, before Hradeka produced another big serve to take it 7-5.

However, Peer found her range midway through the  second set and began to dominate proceedings from  the back of the court. She broke in the fifth and
eighth games of the second set, with Hradecka  gifting her the latter with four double faults.

Peer dominated in the third set, and was further aided by a hefty unforced error and double-fault  count from Hradecka, who was beginning to become frustrated.

With little help from her booming first serve,  Hradecka was unable to match Peer’s superior ground strokes.

At the post-match media conference, Peer said: “I  played her [Hradeka] last year and lost in  straight sets. She is a good player and has a big  serve, but she is not always consistent and I  think that’s the main thing with her.

“I had to play good and be aggressive, because  she tries to dominate points pretty early, so my  main goal was to be solid but also aggressive. I
tried to combine those two and return well too  and I think I did it quite well.”

Peer will play unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

At the media conference, Peer talked down threats  to her security when asked whether the recent  spate of anti-Israel protests had affected her preparation.

“There is security going on around me, I don’t  know exactly how much but I feel really safe,” Peer said.

“I’m just focusing on playing tennis and I’m not  here to focus on my security or what’s going on outside the court.”

Youth movements safe despite GFC

MELBOURNE, 21 January — Amid reports that Jewish  youth movements worldwide had gone cap in hand to the Israeli government to save them from
financial collapse, the Zionist Federation of  Australia (ZFA) this week insisted that the  future of local organisations was secure.

However, ZFA president Philip Chester cautioned  that the groups for children and teenagers were surviving “hand-to-mouth”.

Chester voiced his concerns just days after  leaders of world Zionist youth movements met with  the Knesset Education Committee to plead their
case for increased funding. It followed extensive  budget cuts by the Jewish Agency for Israel last year.

Chester ­ who ultimately oversees Betar, Bnei  Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Hineni and  Netzer ­ said  “People would be shocked at the  small budgets some of the movements are running on.”

The organisations, run by youth leaders, most of  who are under 21, are largely responsible for their own funding. Most rely on parents,  supporters or movement alumni for week-to-week  activity and camp funding. Traditional
fundraising methods, such as film and trivia nights, are common.

Increasingly, movements are also having to raise  money to support shaliachs (emissaries), who are  sent to Australia by the Jewish Agency, but are
only partially financially supported.

The movements’ roof body ­ the Australian Zionist  Youth Council ­ receives some funding from the ZFA, but only for large-scale programs, such as  leadership camps. For some movements the model works.

Bnei Akiva, for example, has strong support from  the Mizrachi community and is savvy in its  fundraising ­ organising a mishloach manot sale  at Purim and a lulav and etrog sale at Succot.

Other movements, particularly the smaller ones, have less success.

The ZFA is working with them to attract support,  but according to Chester, it is not easy.

“We haven’t yet worked out the magical formula to do it,” he said.

Community philanthropists have been approached to  ascertain whether they would be interested in  assisting, and Chester has also been in  discussions with the NSW Jewish Communal Appeal  (JCA) to garner support for the Sydney movements.

And while JCA support for youth movements was not on the short-term agenda, he said he was more hopeful in the longer term.

Meanwhile, Chester said he was confident of the survival of local chapters.

“The numbers are good and to their undying  credit, the kids do it for nothing and run functions on the smell of an oily rag.

“The truth is, no matter how little they have, they will never stop doing it.”
Dudi Sela blows lout of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, 20 January – Israeli tennis player Dudi  Sela has crashed out of the Australian Open in  the first round, losing to Ukrainian qualifier  Ivan Sergeyev 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.

Israel’s top-ranked male player ­ ranked 41 in  the world ­ came into the match with a virus and never found his rhythm, despite displaying patches of brilliance.

The match lasted three hours and 22 minutes.

The Israeli was broken in the first game of the match and there were two more breaks of serve in  the set, one to each player. Sergeyev served out the set with a love game.

The second set went on serve to a tie breaker,  which Sergeyev dominated with some big serving, winning 7-3.

Sela regained his composure and took the third set 6-4.

There were consecutive service breaks in the  second and third games of the fourth set as the intensity went up a notch.

The set then went on serve until the tie break,  and it was a brilliant passing shot on the  forehand that eventually gave Sergeyev his hard-fought win.

Australian Jewry rallies for Haiti

SYDNEY, 21 January – Australian Jews are being urged to step up their support for the international aid effort in Haiti.

In the wake of the earthquake that has ravaged the Caribbean island, claiming an estimated 200,000 lives, two community charities — Jewish Aid Australia (JAA) and Magen David Adom (MDA) — have launched appeals.

In three days, JAA had already raised $70,000 for  the relief effort. It is directing its donations towards CARE Australia — a non-partisan, non-political Australian charity on the ground in Port-au-Prince.

JAA chief executive officer Gary Samowitz said: “The response has been fantastic and we’ve been inundated with calls and emails.”

Among the donors are AJN owner Robert Magid and his sister Nora Goodridge, who made a $40,000 pledge.

“Bob and Nora’s donation is an inspiring example to the rest of the community,” Samowitz said. “The more money raised, the more services will be  provided to those suffering the aftermath of the earthquake, and every donation counts.”

The Pratt Foundation, meanwhile, run by Jewish philanthropist Heloise Waislitz, has made an initial donation of $50,000. The foundation’s  CEO, Sam Lipski, said the 5000 workers at the  family company, Visy, had also been invited to give funds to the people of Haiti. He said donations made by staff would be matched by the foundation.

Ron Raab, president of Insulin for Life Australia,  added that his organisation had sent emergency shipments of insulin to assist Haitian diabetics
who were struggling to get access to lifesaving medication.

Local MDA branches are also running an appeal to support the work of their Israeli colleagues on the embattled island. As part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, MDA sent a paramedic delegation to Haiti immediately upon hearing of the earthquake.

According to MDA-Red Cross coordinator Dudi Abadi, all the money raised by the ambulance and first aid service will be used to fulfill the most urgent needs — medical equipment, blankets, water, food, hygiene items, purification tablets and sheets of plastic.

Encouraging the community to give generously to the appeals, Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said: “The earthquake
claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and has left many of the survivors without homes, food, water, medical and hospital services, and
other basic necessities. I urge everyone in our community to dig deep and support the recognised international aid organisations, which have
workers on the ground in Haiti, including Jewish organisations such as Jewish Aid Australia Limited, Magen David Adom and ZAKA.”
Israeli Torah scholar sets up new Kollel

SYDNEY, 21 January – Despite success stories in Melbourne and Perth, Sydney has struggled for years to establish a viable kollel.

But this time around the Jewish Learning Centre  (JLC) is hoping that the outcome will be different.

Next month, JLC plans to bring four Israeli  bochers (Torah scholars) to set up Australia’s third Torah MiTzion Kollel.

Once established, it will be one of 25 religious-Zionist kollels dotted around the world under the umbrella organisation of Torah MiTzion in Israel, including one in Melbourne, based at Mizrachi shul and another in Perth.

Rabbi Daniel Eisenberg, who will be heading the project, said: “Jewish life is very dependent on the vibrancy of its institutions and every additional source of inspiration that can be provided to the Sydney community will help advance stronger Jewish identity.

“This is a prime example of that kind of institution.”

Traditionally, a kollel is an institute for  advanced Torah studies, which provides married men with housing and a regular monthly stipend to study Judaism’s classic texts.

However, this Torah MiTzion Kollel will run slightly differently.

For starters, these bochers are not married. Further­more, while they will undertake intensive studies at JLC’s beit hamedrash, the men will also perform outreach work.

Other shuls run similar initiatives for unmarried  bochers, but this is the only program to officially be called a kollel in Sydney.

“The focus here is to work in the traditional sense of the kollel, as well as to strengthen the Jewish nature of the community,” said Rabbi
Eisenberg, who is still raising some of the $180,000 in funds needed to operate the project in its first year.

This is not the first time an organisation has tried to establish a kollel in the area.

In 2006, the Adass Israel congregation brought out seven rabbis and their families to set up Sydney’s first full-scale kollel. But two years later, it closed down because of funding and organisational issues.

Rabbi Eisenberg, however, believes this time they will succeed.

“It’s not like bringing a group of married men and their families. It’s a very big difference in proportion. It’s more sustainable,” he said.
Can Pakula make the trains run on  time?

MELBOURNE, 21 January – Jewish MP Martin Pakula  has been handed Victoria’s poisoned chalice – the transport portfolio.  The state’s transport minister Lynne Kosky resigned from parliament on Monday, citing family health problems.

Pakula who was voted in by his caucus colleagues  yesterday, will inherit a range of problems, which include over crowded trains, transport cancellations and a troubled over-budged new  electronic ticketing system, and technical
problems with the public transport system.

The 40-year old who was elected to Parliament in  2006, had a Jewish upbringing, and is a son of a Holocaust survivor. He also adds industrial relations to his portfolio.

He is one of three Labour MP’s in the Victorian Parliament. The others are Marsha Thomson and Jennifer Huppert.

Pakul caught the train to work recently, taking time out to hear complaints from frustrated commuters.

Mr Pakula chatted with passengers on the 8.17am  from Sandringham, hearing their complaints about punctuality and cancellations on the network.

He said most people had been welcoming, but had a lot to say about their morning commute.

“What they want is reliability and punctuality. That’s the absolute key message from today,” he said.

A casual user of the system Mr Pakula said he caught the Sandringham line a couple of dozen times a year and sometimes caught the bus home from the station.

“Like all commuters, I’ve had times when the train I’ve been on has been extremely crowded, or it has been extremely hot or there’s been delays
and I understand why people would be frustrated by that,” he said.

But from today he is expected to be a regular  traveller, getting out on public transport every day.

Mr Pakula also indicated that he would be considering the future of W-Class trams, saying they would most likely eventually end up servicing only the city circle.

“I don’t think anything is forever (and) I don’t think they are designed for large-scale commuter transportation any more,” he said.

“I think people want a more modern, more comfortable tram these days, and so I think the W-class tram, their use will be confined to (the city circle).”

Country music with a slice of kugel

TAMWORTH, NSW. 21 January – Every year at about this time, country music flows down the streets of Tamworth just about as freely as the cold beer
flows from the taps of their pubs.

It’s the Tamworth Country Music Festival in the city that’s described as the Nashville of the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s also the city home to musicians who go by the curious names of 8 Ball Aitken and Bird.

“Come on in, we’ve made a kugel for you,” 8 Ball Aitken says when we meet at his home. The Queensland native, who sports a long bright red beard and speaks in a soft voice, performed at the festival, which ran until January 24

Aitken has led an interesting life. The Golden Guitar nominee went from picking mangoes and bananas, to picking the strings on his guitar. Though not Jewish himself, his fiancee and manager Bird Jensen are, and Judaism has come to influence his music.

Aitken is a welcome friend at Brisbane’s Beit Knesset Shalom Progressive Synagogue; he has played at synagogue functions and filmed part of a music video there.

Over the past six years, he’s released three albums and toured in towns all over Australia as well as 15 countries.

“[His music] is not strictly country,” Jensen says. “It’s part blues, folk, country and indie rock,” she explains.

The pair’s hard work has finally paid off. “We earn our living through our own original music,” Jensen says. “A lot of people can’t do that.”

Many artists in Australia, including Aitken, are partially supported by the Australian Business Arts Foundation (ABAF).

To get more funding, business-minded Jensen even  makes her own “8 Ball shmattehs” — T-shirts and other tour merchandise — and says she is willing
to go the extra mile in ways other managers probably never considered.

“If anyone [donates enough money to get 8 Ball  Aitken back into the studio], I’ll personally make them a shabbat dinner in their home,” Jensen enthuses, “and it will be good.”

8 Ball Aitken performed at the Tamworth Country Music Festival through January 24.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

  1. Eliyahoo WilliamDwek
    May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Any man who chooses to be a ‘rabbi’ (‘true teacher’ of Torah) or a ‘dayan’ (‘judge’), or a ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

    If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be leading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called ‘earning a living’.

    Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the ‘rabbis’ have turned the Torah into their ‘Profession’, from which they earn money.

    We are commanded in the Shema to:

    ‘LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.’

    ‘VE’AHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha.’ (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)
    Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give ‘lovely’ shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

    The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

    Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or rav’s pocket – his pocket and position will always prevail.

    Pirkei Avot: (2:2)
    “Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah she’ein imah melacha sofa betailah ve’goreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim……”

    “Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven………”

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