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The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Garry Fabian

By Garry Fabian

Art Unites Youth and Seniors

MELBOURNE, 16 September – When Marianne Roth, a resident at Emmy Monash Aged Care, a Jewish retirement home,  heard about a unique artistic collaboration between the home and nearby Shelford Girls’ Grammar, she couldn’t contain her excitement.

The 90-year-old was a former teacher at the Caulfield school and decided she would pay it a visit ahead of the planned art class.

A few days before the year 8 class was scheduled to visit the aged-care facility, Mrs Roth
ventured over to the school, where she was warmly greeted by principal Polly Flanagan, teacher Rebecca Saunders and the year 8 girls. 

Mrs Roth heard about the school’s recent achievements and happenings, and was able to see
the physical changes for herself.

A few days later, it was she who welcomed the year 8 students to Emmy Monash, where they spent time painting with other residents.

Ahead of the class, principal Flanagan said: “This is an exciting opportunity for our students
to engage with these residents and to join with them in a painting class. The students are really looking forward to this activity and trust that it will be the first of many.”

Members of the group worked on a section of what will become a large painting to be displayed at Emmy Monash.


Horses for Courses – A Jewish Connection?

MELBOURNE, 17 September  -The Washington peace talks may still be in the headlines, but the Israeli Prime Minister wasn’t the only Netanyahu to grace the pages of the newspapers in recent days.

Another Netanyahu appeared in Victorian form guides last week, as a long-odds galloper in race eight at Geelong.

He had some pace, but could not negotiate his way to the front of the pack, finishing fourth last. Starting at $10.40, he was edged out by the gentile-sounding Hennesy Rhythm in the last race on the card.

When part-owner Terry Henderson bought the horse, it was already called Netanyahu. However, he was hardly surprised by its Israeli name, given it was sired by Irish champion Golan and is a half-brother to Kibbutz, which won the 2007 Victorian Derby.

“We bought him when he was about two years old,” Henderson, who owns the horse with former footballer and Australian cricketer Simon O’Donnell, said.

He added that the name was in no way a reflection of his or O’Donnell’s personal politics.
Asked how punters go with the tricky name, Henderson sighed: “We get problems with everything.”

Race callers, who have to bellow the tricky four syllable name in a hurry, also struggle.

“If you asked me how to spell it right now I don’t think I could!” Henderson said.

The owner also quickly hosed down suggestions the jockey should have raced Netanyahu in blue and white silks emblazoned with a Star of David,chuckling at the suggestion the horse may need to be accompanied to the stalls by security officers if that were to happen.

“I just sincerely hope this doesn’t disrupt the peace talks in Washington,” he joked.

While Netanyahu has no Jewish connections, Kibbutz is part-owned by entertainment guru
Michael Gudinski. And with Spring Racing Carnival just around the corner, a number of Jewish trainers and owners will be ensuring their horses are in tip-top condition.

Three out of Six

SYDNEY, 17 September – Three Maccabi netball teams won their grand finals on the weekend, while another three lost close matches to finish runners-up in Willoughby.

Both under-11 teams won their grand finals to sweep the age group.

The under-11A team easily accounted for Mosman, 21-5, with goal-shooters Abigail Goldman and Lily Speiser on song from the opening whistle and Abbie Gentin and Talia Gokyildirim solid in defence.

The under-11B team won a heart-stopping match, 11-9, over Willoughby Public School.

The teams went goal-for-goal for most of the match until Maccabi’s shooters, Samantha
Rubinstein, Jaime Herman and Jessica Lax, took control of the match in the final stages.

Maccabi’s under-12A team had a rousing win against the much taller Northbridge team, which defeated Maccabi in the major semifinal, 21-7. Gemma Scheinberg, Shanee Israeli and Nicole Gam were strong up front, while Ash Fisher,  Sami Symonds and Rachel Hurwitz held Northbridge’s attack.

The under-12B team lost its grand final to Monte 18-3.

In senior competitions, Maccabi’s senior B tea lost its grand final in Willoughby by only one
goal to XS, 34-33, in a thriller on Saturday afternoon.

The girls shocked their confident opposition and the match was evenly poised throughout.
Jessica Goulburn, Sara Goulburn and Kim Zinman were accurate under the hoop, while Lexi Rabin, Martine Gordon and Lara Dart helped Maccabi keep the game close with solid work across the centre of the court.

Maccabi Netball Club president Lauren Ehrlich said she was very proud of the sportsmanship the girls showed.

“They were there to have fun and to play their very best and it was the best demonstration of
guts and glory that I have ever witnessed,” Ehrlich said.

“They were certainly winners to all of us there and I know the girls came off the court feeling like they had won.”

Over at Randwick, the under-10 Aquas were defeated in their grand final by the Pearlers, 30-5.

Shule attire finally catches up with 21st century

MELBOURNE 17 September – A piece of St Kilda Hebrew Congregation tradition was consigned to the history books last week, after members vote to dump a longstanding rule requiring the president and vice-president to wear a top hat and tails in synagogue.

The change, which stipulates that the formal wear be replaced by a lounge suit and tie after
Shabbat Bereshit, was voted in at the shul’s annual general meeting.

While the current president, Philip Levy, and rabbi, Philip Heilbrunn, did not support the
amendment, those in favour collected many proxy votes from members, which pushed the change through.

The tradition stems from the congregation’s origins among the Anglo-German-Jewish community.

Male shulgoers, particularly those in Britain, wore formal dress. However, it is rare to find
Brits in top hats today, with the tradition phased out in Ashkenazi shuls more than a decade ago.

Even Sydney’s Great Synagogue, which was built in the British tradition, has abolished top hats in recent times.

But Levy said he thought the tradition was worth keeping because, as the only Australian synagogue still doing it, it made St Kilda unique.

“We were the last bastion,” he said. “Me and a lot of the congregation are very unhappy we are going to lose a uniqueness and tradition that quite a few of us believe is inherent in our history.”

The move was led by some of the synagogue’s past governors, who claimed the 139-year-old tradition intimidated younger members. But Levy said there was a halachic precedent for the archaic rule.

“On Shabbat and yom tov, one should wear a better state of dress than one does normally,” he said, adding that for men who wear a business suit each day, a top hat and tails at synagogue is appropriate.

The change is just one of many about to be heralded at St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, with
Rabbi Heilbrunn preparing for retirement.

“He is unique in himself, but we will get someone who is very, very good,” Levy said.

Jewish cricketer shines on world stage

ADELAIDE< 17 September – South Australian batsman Michael Klinger was a controversial choice to captain the Redbacks at the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa.

Despite replacing Graham Manou as captain of the Redbacks’ Sheffield Shield and Ford Ranger Cup sides at the start of the 2009/10 season, the 30-year-old was overlooked for the domestic Twenty20 squad, which went on to finish second and win a place in the Champions League.

But Klinger has silenced the doubters with a blazing start to the Redbacks’ South African
campaign, and is now the competition’s leading run scorer following back-to-back half-centuries.

The former Bushranger sent an emphatic message to the South Australian selectors with a
scintillating 78 from just 48 deliveries against South African side the Lions on Monday, a knock that included six boundaries and five sixes.

On Wednesday, he was at it again, hitting 50 from 48 balls and sharing in a 112-run opening stand to reel in a massive 182, posted by the highly fancied Mumbai Indians, led by little master Sachin Tendulkar.

The boilover was the shock result of the tournament so far, with Klinger’s men reeling in
the massive total against a cashed-up, star-studded side that boasts players such as part-time Redback and short-format dynamo Kieron Pollard, champion Indian offy Harbhajan Singh,
West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, South African young gun JP Duminy and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga, probably the best fast bowler in world Twenty20.

The results are a massive fillip for the Redbacks, which get US $500,000 simply for
turning up, a further US$200,000 if they are eliminated at the group stage, $US500,000 if they are knocked out in the semifinals, US$1.3 million for a second-placed finish and a whopping US$2.5 million for the win.

Klinger was named man-of-the-match for his heroics against the Lions, and his side now needs just one more win from its remaining two matches in the group stage to shore up its spot in the semifinals.

The Redbacks take on another Indian Premier League side in the Bangalore Royal Challengers on Saturday morning.


A Crowning achievement

SYDNEY  17 September – An Australian rabbi has been elected to sit on one of the world’s mostprestigious religious courts, the Crown Heights Beth Din in New York.

Sydney’s Tzemach Tzedek community will lose its spiritual leader after Rabbi Yossi Braun was
voted in as the third rabbi of Crown Heights Beth Din in Brooklyn by less than 100 votes.

For the Tzemach Tzedek community, his appointment brings mixed feelings. Former president Benny Amzalak said the community was proud but disappointed.

“It’s definitely sad because we are going to miss out on someone who is so good for us, and
Sydney,” Amzalak said. “He has been here for seven years but now the world has realised how
good he is and they have snapped him up to one of the highest positions in the Chabad world.”

The rabbi isn’t expected to move immediately.

“We have been told that we would get two months from when he knows he has to move to New York sowe can find a replacement rabbi because our community will continue to be strong and grow.”

Sydney Yeshiva Centre spiritual leader Rabbi Pinchus Feldman said he was proud to see a former student achieve the position. “We hope that he brings pride to all of us in the years to come,” Rabbi Feldman said. “Without any doubt, I’m sure he’ll try his best to make a very strong contribution in Crown Heights.”

Young Adult Chabad Rabbi Eli Feldman said Rabbi Braun was a man of high principles.

“Their education came before politics,” he said. “He’s someone who believes in something, he has particular principles. Let’s hope he takes that spirit to Crown Heights where he’ll serve the
people. We hope he’ll do a good job there and we wish him well.”

Rabbi Braun, 40, campaigned as a man who would be able to connect with the younger generation in Crown Heights.

In a video on his campaign website prior to the election, he spoke of bringing the community
together by working together towards common goals.

“If it’s a grassroots effort and everybody is in this together, and everybody’s welcome to
participate and contribute, I think we can really get things moving step-by-step,” he said.

“There’s a lot of beautiful things that are happening in Crown Heights and perhaps we should
focus much more on the positive and bring out the positive.”

Crown Heights, in the New York borough of Brooklyn, is the spiritual home of the
Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The suburb is home to 770, the former headquarters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Serving up a literary smorgasbord

MELBOURNE 20 September – Norman Mailer, Harold Pinter, Amos Oz and Saul Bellow — just some of the legendary authors Ramona Koval has spoken with over the years for her ABC radio program, The Book Show.

In 2005, a selection of her best interviews were featured in a compilation, Tasting Life Twice.
Five years on, Koval has updated the selection in a new edition, Speaking Volumes, which has just been published.

“These are a selection of the interviews that I have done over the past 15 years with writers who have interesting things to say to a world audience,” says Koval, a veteran of ABC Radio since the 1980s.

Was it hard to select the 28 authors to feature in the book? “I don’t have favourites – they are
all interesting and memorable for different reasons,” she explains. “A lot of the most
interesting writers of the past 50 years have been Jewish – people like Joseph Heller and
Harold Pinter have been classic writers in their genre.”

Koval says that Amos Oz, Israel’s best-known writer with an international reputation, has wide appeal to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.

“He is a very emotional and passionate writer,” she explains.

In Speaking Volumes, Koval quotes Oz as saying that when he writes as a journalist, it is
usually to criticise Israel’s lawmakers.

“I’m normally telling the government to go to hell, and for some reason they never listen to me,” Oz notes.

Koval interviewed Harold Pinter at the Edinburgh International Book Festival not long after he hadan operation for throat cancer.

“I wanted to talk about cancer as he had published his poems on the subject, but I was not
sure when to bring it up,” she says.

“A lot of his early work had a very menacing atmosphere, and what’s more menacing than thethreat of dying, so I wanted to ­discuss it, but was not sure when to raise it.

“Just before we went on stage, Pinter asked me if I wanted to speak about the cancer. When I told him that I did, he said: ‘Well, can we get it out of the way at the start’.”

Koval says members of the audience were surprised that she tackled the cancer question first,
although they did not realise that the request had come from Pinter himself.

For her interview with Saul Bellow, Koval went to the US where he was part of the professors program at Boston University.

“He was about 83 and very nice. We spoke a little bit of Yiddish together and he asked me for a date in the afterlife,” she recalls.

Each year from 2001 to 2009, Koval attended the Edinburgh International Book Festival to conduct interviews on stage, but this year she has been invited to the Times Cheltenham Festival of Literature in England, which is on next month.

She spends weeks researching each author that she interviews for her radio show and sessions at writers’ festivals.

“I read the author’s current book and all the interviews that have been published about the author.

“I read the reviews of the book, but usually after I have read the book as I don’t want to
have somebody else’s impression of it,” she says.

“I also check YouTube to see if there are interviews that have been done. It’s important to
be really well prepared. If you are not, it can be panic stations.”

As well as interviewing authors, Koval has put pen to paper herself, writing a novel, Samovar,
and a cookbook, Jewish Cooking, Jewish Cooks, inspired by the traditional cuisine of her Holocaust-survivor parents.

Most of the recipes are derived from the Ashkenazi food of Europe, but some are also
influenced by the Sephardi food of the Middle East and North Africa.

The book is peppered with anecdotes and tales about the importance of food in Jewish culture.

“I think the sales of the cookbook are fine, but it doesn’t have a television show to go with it,” she says with a laugh.

“I was at a Byron Bay Writers Festival recently and lots of people were interested in my book and the food, culture and the stories of different types of culinary traditions.”

Ramona Koval  is a noted Melbourne writer, journalist and presenter, whose parents are
Holocaust survivors who settled in Melbourne after WWII

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World.

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