Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

StandWithUs calls for June 25 as day of solidarity with Gilad Shalit

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (Press Release)– Friday, June 25, marks four long years since Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit was abducted by seven Hamas terrorists who entered Israel from a tunnel under the Israel-Gaza border and ambushed an Israeli tank from behind. They launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the vehicle and killed two Israeli soldiers, Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker and Lieutenant Hanan Barak. Five other soldiers, including Gilad Shalit, were wounded.
That day, less than a year after he began his military service, Gilad was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and taken to the Gaza Strip, where he has remained captive ever since. Gilad was 19 years old at the time of his abduction. An Israeli and French citizen, he is a quiet person who loves math and sports. Gilad enjoyed following different sports leagues and tournaments all over the world. If one wanted to know the results of a competition in any country—Gilad knew the answer. If Gilad were safe at home with his family in Israel today, he would have undoubtedly been following every game of the 2010 soccer World Cup. Instead, he waits at the mercy of his terrorist captors in an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip.
Gilad always volunteered to help everyone around him. Now he is cared for by no one, because no one is allowed to see him. For four years, Hamas has denied Gilad even one visit by a humanitarian group, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to provide him with proper medical attention. This is in violation of the Third Geneva Convention.
Gilad’s father, Noam, asked flotilla passengers bringing what they claimed to be “humanitarian aid” to Gaza if they could bring his son one letter and one small package. The answer was no. 
In March 2010, Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC’s head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa, admitted that “from the very beginning…we have repeatedly urged those holding him to treat him humanely and to allow him to exchange news with his family. We have emphasized that they have an obligation to do so under international humanitarian law…On more than one occasion, we have publicly demanded that Hamas allow us to visit Mr. Shalit in order to independently assess his condition. None of our appeals has been heard so far.” Hamas has also rejected the ICRC’s discreet, behind-the-scenes requests to visit Gilad Shalit.
On Friday, June 25, Gilad will have been held hostage for  EXACTLY FOUR YEARS, 1,461 DAYS, by a fanatic terrorist group dedicated to annihilating the state of Israel and the Jewish people. His treatment is inhumane and tragic, and we are left to wonder: Why does the world accept this kind of treatment? Where is the support for his release?
What we are asking for is simple:
One conversation.
One doctor.
One visit by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
And, if possible, one hug, on behalf of his brothers and sisters in Israel and those in the United States and from around the world who want to let him know that we have not forgotten his plight and that we stand with him.

Please send a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross; Amnesty International; and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to urge them to demand the release of Gilad Shalit and, at the very least, demand that Hamas allow Gilad Shalit to receive proper medical attention and contact from his family in Israel.  
Preceding provided by StandWithUs

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment


Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Booksellers agree to pull books

MELBOURNE,  19 May –  Three of Australia’s biggest book retailers this week agreed to pull a number of virulently anti-Semitic titles from their websites, following an investigation by a community watchdog.

Among the poisonous works that could be purchased on the Borders and Angus & Robertson websites were The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which alleges that Jews are plotting to take over the world, and The International Jew by Henry Ford,
which states: “Whichever way you turn to trace the harmful streams of influence that flow through society, you come upon a group of Jews.”

Visitors to the stores’ websites could also purchase Martin Luther’s The Jews and their Lies, in which the medieval theologian describes Jews as “base, whoring people,  full of the devil’s feces, which they wallow in like swine.”

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, meanwhile, was also available online from Dymocks.

The investigation into the sale of hate literature on the net as part of the community alert to this type of display, and campaign against, cyber-racism.

After alerting the retailers to the pernicious nature of the books they were selling via their websites, on Tuesday all three agreed to withdraw them.

Dymocks buying manager Sophie Groom said: “We have taken the decision to remove the title from our website and this will be completed within the next two business days.”

Briony Lewis, general counsel for Redgroup Retail – the parent company of Borders and Angus & Robertson – also confirmed that the publications were being pulled.

The swift action taken by the retailers was welcomed by community leaders.

Expressing his disappointment that “such vehemently anti-Semitic and racist literature can be so easily obtained”, John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), said: “Nevertheless, I’m pleased the bookstores concerned have immediately agreed and acknowledged that it’s inappropriate for such
books to be available. It is precisely the dissemination of this kind of material that leads to ongoing problems of vilification and racism within our community, which the JCCV, together with other organisations, is working to eradicate.”

The sentiment was echoed by Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

“Given the disturbing ease with which the internet is abused and pernicious and racist material disseminated, it places an onus on all disseminators of information to exercise care and diligence over what they put out there,” he said.

“We therefore applaud these bookstores for their responsible approach when the issue was  raised  with them..”

Cannes coup for small film maker

MELBOURNE, 19 May –  Ariel Kleiman’s status as one of Australia’s fastest-rising film talents was confirmed with the recent announcement that his short film, Deeper Than Yesterday, will be screened at Critic’s Week as part of the Cannes Film Festival.

Critic’s Week has showcased films by up-and-coming filmmakers for nearly 50 years, and has given artists such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Jacques Audiard and Ken Loach their start.

Kleiman, 25, leaves for the French Riviera on Sunday, on the second stop of his festival-hopping itinerary.

In February, he was in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, where another short he wrote and directed, Young Love, won an honourable mention. He was also the director of photography on Muscles – a film by long-time friend Edward Housden – which has been nominated for the short film Palme d’Or.

“We make these films in a little bubble and we work pretty hard on them for quite a while,”Kleiman said. “So it’s definitely a nice feelingeven just to have it screened so other people can see it. It has been a crazy couple of months.”
And Kleiman will get his wish.

Cannes is comfortably the world’s most prestigious film festival and has long been considered a hotbed for talent-spotting and a launcher of careers.

Deeper Than Yesterday is one of seven shorts that will be screened as part of Critic’s Week, along with seven feature-length films. At nearly 20 minutes, Kleiman’s film is an awkward length and was too long to be considered in the short-film competition at Cannes.

“I was quite surprised [the film was selected for Critic’s Week] because I thought Deeper might have been too long. I didn’t know how it would be accepted at film festivals, because it’s quite a commitment to watch for a short. I had low expectations.”

Set on a submarine, Deeper Than Yesterday is a Russian-language film that explores the effects of prolonged isolation on a group of sailors. As the men become increasingly savage towards one another, they discover the body of a woman floating in the water.

The film was the Victorian College of the Arts student’s third-year project and was shot in eight days with a Russian-speaking cast, comprised of security guards and members of a local Russian drama school.

“I wrote it in English and then we workshopped it with the actors. I understand Russian, but I
don’t speak it. The actors really made the script their own in Russian, which was great.”

On a tight production schedule that allowed little room for error, Kleiman and his crew spent eight days bunkered down in a decommissioned submarine docked near Hastings, on Victoria’s Western Port Bay. But it wasn’t the first choice for the film’s location.

“Originally when I thought of it, it was going to be about a group of fisherman that find a woman in the ocean, but we couldn’t find a fishing trawler that would let us shoot on there. But it was probably a blessing because the sub was amazing.”

Kleiman and his housemates – girlfriend Sarah Cyngler, the film’s production designer, and Benjamin Gilovitz, a producer – built corporate websites to pay for the making of the film.

Kleiman said sharehouse living inspired Deeper Than Yesterday. “I guess the concept of living with people and
being with the same people day in and day out, I think that might be where it came from.”

The exposure of Kleiman’s films has earned him a contract with Warp Films (which produced the 2006 indie hit This is England) to pen a feature, which he is currently writing with Cyngler.

Change of guard at Victorian Zionist Council

MELBOURNE, 19 May – It’s the end of an era at the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), with president Dr Danny Lamm announcing last week he will retire from the post at the next Annual Assembly.

The longest-serving president of the organisation, he has held the role for eight years, two longer than any of his predecessors.

“I have had a tremendous amount of job satisfaction doing the job on behalf of the community and Israel,” Dr Lamm said. “I look back on this period with only satisfaction.”

When asked why he is stepping down, he said simply “it’s time”.

Dr Lamm credited his board for “a really productive period”, that has included advances in advocacy, public speakers, improving the utilisation of Beth Weitzmann Community Centre
and the purchase of 304 Hawthorn Road, adjacent to the centre.

“I have had tremendous support from my board all the way through,” he said. “We have had a really good level of cooperation.”

Remaining chairman of Beth Weizmann Community Centre, Dr Lamm said his retirement from ZCV
would not be the end of his community work, revealing that he is in discussions with another organisation.

ZCV executive director Ginette Searle said that the organisation would announce a replacement
later this year to coincide with the Annual Assembly.

The ZCV is the main representative body for more than 59 Zionist organisations. It enables the expression of Zionism in Victoria.
Court weighs weighty edifice issue

MELBOURNE, 21 May – The Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue found itself fighting a Supreme Court injunction over a large sign on the synagogue’s facade last Friday.

Victoria’s Supreme Court dismissed the injunction asking for the signage, which identifies the St Kilda East centre as the “Lyndi and Rodney Adler Sephardi Centre”, to be removed before Saturday, when a ceremony was to be held in honour of one of the congregation’s founders, Jacques Balloul.

The prominent sign is a modification of an earlier, less conspicuous, version.

Costs of $5000 were awarded against the applicant, solicitor Dan Horesh, a nephew of Albert Sassoon Yehuda, the shul’s founder, who is the executor of his late uncle’s estate.

The estate last year launched legal action, claiming the founder was entitled to naming rights to the centre in perpetuity, based on donations he, and later his estate, have made.

A loan for an undisclosed amount was forgiven by the estate due to the centre’s financial
difficulties, and the centre is currently carrying another loan from the estate.

After the injunction was refused, Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, who heard the case,  recommended the matter be resolved via a civil trial.

Rodney Adler, who is not a party to the case, told The AJN this week that when the shul approached him around 18 months ago, it was “in great financial trouble”. Pressed to help by Sephardi friends, the Adlers donated $150,000 in exchange for naming rights.

“I live in Sydney . I’m Ashkenazi . We don’t go to the shul, we’re not Melbourne people,” said Adler, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to criminal charges relating to his dealings over insurer HIH, and served 30 months in prison.

He bristled at comments made in court by Horesh’s lawyer David Sharp that the Adlers made the donation by way of “re-establishing themselves in society, particularly Jewish society”.

“It’s got to be a lot more than one little synagogue whose name is going to change my global perception,” he said.

Sephardi Centre president Paul Berman said the Adler name pertained to the centre as a whole, and that the synagogue would continue to be known as Sassoon Yehuda.

“We wish to honour all the benefactors who contribute greatly to the operation and the survival of our community,” he said.

Jewish contender for parliamentary seat

SYDNEY, 21 May – When nominations closed for ALP preselection in the Sydney seat of Wentworth last
Friday, lawyer Steven Lewis discovered he was the only contender with his hat in the ring.

The business executive turned lawyer will be formally declared as Labor’s candidate next month, pitching him against Liberal incumbent Malcolm Turnbull, as Australians switch into election mode.

Lewis remained the sole candidate for preselection, after NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) colleague Robin Margo withdrew from the race.

“I’m excited and honoured . We’ve always said it’s going to be a very tough campaign. While you’ve got to be realistic about it, the nature of the electorate is changing.

“There are a number of factors that voters will take into account. Are they looking to the future to have a local member represent their local interests, or to the past?”

Lewis said at this year’s election he would offer voters a grassroots alternative.

“Malcolm Turnbull has been preoccupied for a number of years now with much wider issues, [including] the leadership of his party. My goal is to be a good local member.”

Asked if, given Turnbull’s record with the Jewish community, this challenge will become a battle for the hearts and minds of eastern Sydney’s Jews, Lewis emphasised that the community “is oneof a number of groups that make up the electorate”.

“I’m not a Jewish candidate. I just happen to be a candidate who is Jewish. That’s a very important distinction,” the longtime JBD member said. “I’ve had a long association with the [Jewish] community and I hope that association
continues . It would be very nice if the [Wentworth Jewish] community have a representative in Federal Parliament, but that is not the only reason people vote. But I certainly would be a vocal and supportive representative of
the Jewish community’s needs and concerns.”

The Slater & Gordon lawyer said he also wanted to fight for improved mental health care, noting that his electorate includes The Gap, “which is unfortunately a place where a lot of people go to take their lives”. He is also keenly interested in improving the conditions for homeless people and helping with measures on the environment.

Lewis, 53, cut his political teeth protesting against the visiting Springbok rugby team from apartheid-era South Africa in 1971.

He joined the ALP in 1979 and is currently the Premier’s appointee on the NSW Election Funding Authority. Lewis was involved in the campaign to free Soviet Jews and visited the Soviet Union in 1988 as the personal assistant to communal icon Isi Leibler in negotiating the release of refuseniks. He was also involved in the contempt-of-court case against Fredrick Toben that saw alleged Holocaust denier jailed for three months last year.

Gutnick slams super tax

MELBOURNE, 24 May – Mining magnate Joseph Gutnick has fired a broadside at the Federal Government’s
proposed mining profits tax, claiming it will have  a “negative impact” on Australia. He is pessimistic about Australia’s booming mining sector’s chances of staying at full throttle once the proposed impost is introduced.

Gutnick owns US-listed Legend International, a phosphate mining company exploring Queensland’s
Georgina Basin, which through North Australian Diamonds has a controlling stake in Merlin.

The productive diamond mine in the Northern Territory is one of only three in Australia and produces a high proportion of gem-quality stones.

He also has interests in various countries, including gold exploration in Canada.

“When you talk to fund managers and investors, they look at Australia now as a sovereign risk. But it is not only affecting the mining industry – it’s a disaster for the mining industry – but it’s affecting Australia.”

He has heard from foreign investors who are now wary of Australian bonds and there is insecurity
about what Canberra will do next. “Australia is [geographically] far enough without this supertax.”

Gutnick said he is still hopeful the tax “will be substantially changed or given up”. But with
opposition from state premiers and treasurers, he ponders whether it will ever be implemented.

Turning to the political ramifications of the tax, Gutnick said the Government was starting to feel the heat. The tax was “not something people ever expected to happen”.

The former Melbourne Football Club president famously followed the advice of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who urged him 22 years ago to search for gold and diamonds in the outback.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

The Jews Down Under … Roundup of Australian Jewish News

April 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Donors warned to consider donations

MELBOURNE, 7 April – Jewish people should  carefully examine the ideologies of humanitarian groups they donate to, an aid expert warned this  week, after it was revealed that an  Australian-funded soccer stadium in the West Bank  has been named after a leading terrorist.

Jewish Aid Australia (JAA) CEO Gary Samowitz said  donors need to be diligent when deciding where to give their charity.

“A lot of the time, they don’t know where their funding is going. They just give, and then they get a nasty surprise,” he said.

Samowitz was commenting after news emerged that Palestinian authorities are planning to name a  sporting complex in Jenin, which contains a  soccer field funded by World Vision Australia, the Abu Jihad Youth City.

Abu Jihad, also known as Khalil al-Wazir, was a commander of Fatah’s armed wing and plotted
several attacks on Israel in the 1970s and 1980s.

A World Vision Australia spokesperson has stated the aid group did not have anything to do with the naming of the complex.

“Subsequent to our work establishing the soccer field, the governor of Jenin and the ministry of
youth and sport have embraced it and determined they will build additional sports facilities on the site,” she told media.

Samowitz said that JAA does not work with WorldVision “because we don’t want Jewish funding
going towards a project like this, obviously”.

He said a lot of aid organisations “have quite a firm stance” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

By contrast, JAA recently worked with Care Australia, distributing $140,000 in funds raised
by the Jewish community towards the Haiti earthquake appeal. “Care Australia are
non-political and non-religious .We’ve met with them and we’re assured they’re an organisation we can trust and they’re not anti-Israel.”

Community mourns Nehama Patkin

MELBOURNE, 7 April -The arts and education communities are in mourning following the deathof acclaimed pianist Nehama Patkin, aged 70, on the weekend.

Patkin died of complications related to an infection in her hip and was buried Sunday at the
Melbourne Chevra Kadisha cemetery in Lyndhurst.

Patkin’s parents, Benzion and Hemda, migrated to Australia from Palestine in 1929. Benzion was instrumental in the establishment of Mount Scopus Memorial College and Patkin was part of the school’s first enrolment of students in 1949.

At the age of four, Patkin began learning the piano, starting a lifelong passion for music.

After completing her studies at Mount Scopus, she attended the University of Melbourne and
graduated with a bachelor of music in 1959, followed eight years later by a masters degree.

She played piano in competitions and was trained in guitar, oboe, flute and dancing, with further study to teach creative movement dancing.

Patkin was involved in a Jewish theatre group, the Habima Players, and it was there that she met Peter Grodeck. They were married in 1959.

The renowned performer’s involvement in music continued to grow, becoming an accompanist for ballet schools. She was also one of the first presenters on the ABC TV series Playschool.

In 1970, she composed the musical score for The Australian Ballet Company’s  production Arena, which was performed around Australia.

Over the years, she played piano concertos with all the Australian symphony orchestras, as well as guest appearances with orchestras in Brazil, Hawaii and Germany. She was also awarded life membership of the Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Patkin was a regular performer at community functions and was director of Victoria’s Israeli
Independence Day celebrations for eight years, as well as directing similar functions interstate.

A member of the board of governors of the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, she also
received a Churchill Fellowship in 2003, the Order of Australia (OAM) medal in 1998 for
service to the community, and was appointed an Australia Day ambassador in 2008.

Patkin was a lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts and established the Young Musicians of Excellence to provide high quality orchestral music for children.

She leaves a partner Kenneth Madl, two sons, Anton and Damien Grodeck, and two grandchildren, Ben and Adam Grodeck.

When Ben graduated from Mount Scopus Memorial College in 2008, he created history in becoming the first third-generation graduate of the school. Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard said: “The Mount Scopus community
fondly remembers Nehama Patkin as one of its first students.

“Her immense contribution to the fields of music and music education, her roles as teacher, mother and grandmother of our students and enthusiastic supporter of the college, make us proud to have counted Nehama as one of our graduates.”
Dream start for 2010 season for young footballers

SYDNEY, 8 April – Maccabi HaKoah’s Youth Development sides have immediately showed the
fruits of their pre-season labour, picking up four wins from five starts to kick-off their 2010
campaign in late March. The club travelled to Nowra, where they impressed against Southern
Region, a club that was in the Super League in 2009.

The under-13s set the tone, notching a 1-0 win despite a first half that would have delighted coach Barry Walker.

Only some brilliant goalkeeping kept out Jake Berkowitz, Zach Edelstein and Jordan Ozana.
Barely five minutes had elapsed in the second period when Mikey Herman slipped a seemingly
innocuous shot past the otherwise impeccable keeper, but the rest of the half was spend fighting superbly.

Dan Engelman and Simon Rouse led the way, while David Booth’s two crucial saves ensured a clean sheet.

The under-14s went down 1-2, but showed enough promise to please coach Nick Tredler. Anton
Loutas opened the scoring, single-handedly beating the defence on a run from midfield, before finding the net in spectacular fashion.

Hakoah found themselves on the back-foot in the second half, but despite the outstanding form of Max Nightingale in goals, Southern got the points.

The under-15s took to the field with the memory of their coach Iggy Grey still burning fondly.
After a good spell of early possession, Sam Wrublewski launched a drive at full throttle,
which flew into the top left corner.

Midfielders Robbie Ezekiel, Josh Orly, Ilan Kessler and Josh Shubitz soon took charge. With
10 minutes to go in the first half, Justin Malek stepped up and scored from 25 metres out.

The boys wavered under the relenting heat in the second period and Nowra took possession and had several concerted moves on goal. Engelman, Schwartz, Hamburger and Karpin maintained a solid defence to keep an impressive clean sheet in a 2-0 win.

The under-16s showed solid form to storm home after an early deficit to win 6-4. Maccabi took a commanding lead before the heat took its toll and both sides succumbed to late goals.

Rami Tal (2), Aydin Dervis (2), Jake Wakil and Jake Nightingale got on the board.

The under-18s ran riot, winning 12-1, with Daniel Toblib bagging four goals, Martin Baer 2, Jack
Watts 2, and Josh Grunfeld, Max Kanicevich, Steven Filler and Ollie Corey the other scorers.

Meanwhile, the State League senior side warmed up for the season with a 2-2 draw, while the
reserves won 1-0, thanks to Hayim Ayalon.

Real Estate Agent targeted over Israel support

MELBOURNE, 9 April – A local real estate agent was accused of “supporting 62 years of terror”
last week after erecting a sign backing Israel ahead of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The slur was made in an anonymous letter sent to LJ Hooker Elsternwick.

The letter also called the agents “traitors” and included the threat, “take that board down or your business will suffer”.

Director of the family run company Alex Flamm, who together with his sons, Oren and Golan, are the faces of the agency, said the company has never been targeted like that before.

“[I feel] absolutely ropeable, angry and infuriated by the ignorance of the idiot that
sent it,” he said. “The person who sent the letter is voicing his patriotism the only way they know how and that is by threats, while at the same time accuse the Jewish people of having
achieved statehood by using “terror”.”

Flamm said he is not “paranoid” about anti-Semitism, rather, he is proud of his Jewish
heritage and disappointed about the “few morons” who “are capable of writing hate mail filled with their version of terrorism and threats under the guise of their patriotism”.

Flamm has reported the letter to the police and Community Security Group.

While the anonymous nature of the threat makes it difficult for the police to act on, Senior
Constable Deryn Boote from Caulfield Police Station has referred the matter to the Divisional
Intelligence Unit based at Moorabbin Police Station.

That unit was set up in recent years to gather information on anti-Semitic and Israel-related
offences in Victoria. The sign, which was situated on Glen Eira Road, was still visible
early this week, but Flamm said it would be removed to protect his business.

LJ Hooker is one of a handful of real estate agents who are active in supporting the local Jewish community and Israel.

Love is the perfect recipe for Cellulloid Soup

MELBOURNE, 9 April – Kosher Lovin’ is the catchy title of this year’s Celluloid Soup Film
Festival, which is seeking entries of short films that touch on aspects of love in the Jewish community.

The festival aims to bring the community together, fostering talent and creativity through
film, at the same time exploring the cultural and religious experiences of the Jewish community

This is the 12th year that Celluloid Soup has been held and it even boasts an Oscar winner
among its past entrants – 2008 Academy Award winner Eva Orner had an entry in the 1998 competition.

“The idea is to have fun and present an exciting festival of films,” said producer Adam Krongold,
who is guiding this year’s festival.

“All people have to do is make a film on the Jewish theme of Kosher Lovin’, make it with
passion and ensure that the result is no longer than seven minutes.”

Krongold said the aim of Celluloid Soup is to promote awareness of the Jewish community through the medium of film.

On the Celluloid Soup website there are some ideas – serious and tongue-in-cheek – on the
theme of Kosher Lovin’ including “Bubba, I’d love another piece of brisket”, Love thy neighbour, and Jewish relationships with the non-Jewish such as love of Kevin Bacon or just bacon.

Earlier this year Celluloid Soup held a workshop covering all facets of filmmaking to help
prospective entrants learn more about the processes involved.

The course was held over five Sundays in conjunction with audiovisual resource centre Open
Channel and the Jewish Museum of Australia, and was attended by 14 people.

“It’s the first time we had run a course as part of the festival. We provided all the equipment
and covered everything from idea generation to editing,” said Krongold. “We received a lot of
good feedback and plan to run the course again before the next festival. And two films that were made in the workshop will be entered into Celluloid Soup.”

Krongold said that anybody could be a filmmaker, thanks to the low cost of digital video cameras.

“Even if you have a mobile phone that can take video, you are a filmmaker. But with more
understanding and guidance you can make a better film,” he said.

“It is important to use the medium to tell a good story and to make it engaging. It’s like telling
a joke – you don’t have much time to engage the viewer. A good story is important along with good filmmaking technique.”

Krongold, 38, said he has been involved in filmmaking since he was 10 whe he borrowed his father’s Super 8mm camera to make a home movie.

“It’s fun to look at those old movies again, which are very grainy compared to today’s digital quality.”

In 2002, Krongold directed a short film titled Not Without my Sheitel, which was entered into Celluloid Soup.

“I helped write the script and directed it when the director pulled out. Wedidn’t win the competition, but it was great to see it on the big screen and appreciate the fact
that it was being seen by people,” he said.

In 2005 Krongold left his work in the financial sector to study drama at the Victorian College of the Arts.

“The course included editing and film production, which I found very enjoyable.”

He also been involved in the production of several short films, works on radio station 3RRRR
and appears on the community TV show, The Shtick.

In 2006 Krongold was host of the Celluloid Soup awards night, in 2008 he joined the committee and this year he took on the voluntary role of festival producer.

“It’s important for people to get involved with the festival. When Eva Orner won her 2008 Academy Award (for Best Documentary for Taxi to the Dark Side) she said it was very rewarding being creative and important to be involved in filmmaking.”

This year the Celluloid Soup finalists will be screened at a gala night at The Astor Theatre, St Kilda on October 21.

“The judging panel will pick the best films from the entries, so the bigger the pool the better the quality.”

While the festival takes place in Melbourne, Krongold encourages entrants from around Australia to send in their films.

As part of Celluloid Soup there will also be a series of lectures from people in the industry.
On May 6 there will be a production and film writing workshop with producer Daniel Scharf; on
July 8 Shaun Miller will discuss the legal issues involved in making films; and on August 12 a
panel discussion on “Jews and Film” will feature Michael Hirsch from Working Dog filmmakers,
Natalie Miller of Sharmill Films and Roadshow Films managing director Joel Perlman.

Understand Israel, Australian Opposition Leader urges

CANBERRA,  8 April – Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s warning to Kevin Rudd not to follow Britain’s lead and expel an Israeli diplomat has driven a wedge between the
Government’s and Coalition’s positions on Israel.

Together with Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop’s call for restraint
over January’s passport forgeries, Abbott’s comments last weekend indicate an emerging Middle East policy different to Rudd’s.

It also looks as though the Middle East could become a hot political issue in the run-up to
this year’s federal election, with Bishop describing any potential diplomatic expulsion as “a vote-grabbing exercise”.

“It would be highly inappropriate [for the government] to take any action in the absence of evidence,” Bishop said.

She predicted the Government may release details of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) inquiry into the forgeries to distract the electorate from the influx of asylum seekers.

“Regrettably, that is typical Kevin Rudd . he does seek to find distractions to divert from
government failures,” Bishop said.

Abbott entered the fray after Rudd last week said the Government had not yet decided how to respond to the allegations of faked Australian passports.

An AFP investigation into Israel’s possible involvement is underway.

While the Liberal leader said he does not condone the forgeries, he gave a sober assessment of
Israel’s vulnerability and said any Israeli involvement should be viewed in that context.

The forgeries, which included four Australian passports, were apparently used to eliminate key
Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel in January. Fingers have been pointed at Israeli spy agency Mossad over the assassination.

“We can never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way Australians
find difficult to understand. It’s also the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East,” Abbott
told The Weekend Australian. “It strikes me that it would be an overreaction to expel an Israeli diplomat.”

Abbott has been a long-time advocate of shared values between Canberra and Jerusalem.

The Coalition leader’s bid to supersize his commitment to Israel over the passport
allegations has placed pressure on Rudd to preserve his government’s credentials on Israel,
while the Jewish State weathers a crisis with Washington over new housing in Jerusalem.

In a flurry of developments, the AFP investigation was announced after Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith slammed any Israeli involvement as “not the act of a friend”, and
Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem was publicly named and shamed. Australia then abstained from a United Nations vote on the Goldstone report that Canberra was expected to oppose, but denied the vote change was linked to the passport affair.

Now Israel supporters fear the eviction of an Israeli diplomat could signal a true cooling in
Australia’s relationship with Israel.

Abbott and Bishop’s rallying call followed the Prime Minister’s wait-and-see approach, which he
conveyed on ABC Radio last week. It is known that Rudd has received a British report that concludes it is “highly likely” Israel had misused Britons’ passports.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has backed calls for an Israeli diplomat to be expelled from Australia.

In an interview on ABC Radio on Monday, Fraser said Israel’s conduct was “totally and absolutely unforgivable and that Australia’s disapproval should be registered by an action not less than that which the British took”.

“I think there’s been a long history, if you like, of double standards. People will not do, in
relation to Israel, what they would do if the same action was conducted by some other country.”

Zionist Council of Victoria president Dr Danny Lamm told ABC presenter Jon Faine that Fraser has “an unhealthy obsession” with Israel.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot also responded, saying “Now is the time to support and not isolate or punish Israel for either its policy on construction in
Jerusalem or any unproved transgression regarding passports.”

Lights …but no action

MELBOURNE, 9 April – In what is becoming a comedy of errors, observant Jews who do not press thebuttons to activate pedestrian crossing on Shabbat and holidays, were again left stranded at some key intersections in Caulfield and surrounding suburbs over Pesach, after a VicRoads plan to switch traffic lights to automatic failed.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) executive director Geoffrey Zygier said he
received reports about lights staying on manual at a couple of corners and he personally noticed that the lights at the corner of Glenferrie and Malvern Roads, near the Chabad House of Malvern, were not on automatic.

The light failures triggered an apology from VicRoads, with Duncan Elliott, regional director
for the Metropolitan South East region, stating that some lights “were not automated during this week’s holy period. VicRoads apologises for this oversight and will ensure that all lights are
automated during all future Jewish holy periods”.

Around 18 months ago, after two Jewish pedestrians were approached by police for
crossing the street illegally during the 2008 high holy days, a flurry of activity resulted in
an action plan involving the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, police, VicRoads and City of Glen Eira, which was meant to solve the problem by automating lights on Shabbat and yom tovs.

But the plan fell flat at its first major test, Pesach last year, and some corners also stayed on
manual lights during last year’s high holy days.

Zygier said this week the problem intersections over Pesach this year were in VicRoads’ domain, but he suspects that the plan was snagged by “staff turnover” in the organisation.
However, it was learned that the irregularity of when Jewish holidays fall on the secular calendar makes fully automatic programming for yom tovs difficult. Zygier complained to VicRoads about the latest system failure.

“It will be a case of reminding VicRoads every time there is a Jewish holiday,” he said,
although he believes the system should work without prompts from the community.

In 2008, six crossings, at Kooyong and Balaclava, Kooyong and Glenhuntly, Hawthorn and Glenhuntly, Hawthorn and Balaclava, Malvern and Glenferrie and Glen Eira and Kooyong Roads, were added to 18 existing intersections where traffic lights are
automated on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

Local talent at Israel’s celebrations

MELBOURNE, 9 April – Following its success last year, Victoria’s Yom Ha’atzmaut annual gala
concert will again focus on home-grown talent.

Traditional favourites, including singer Brett Kaye and the Central Shule choir, will join more
contemporary beats from DJ Benny B, the first DJ to take part in the show. A 20-piece orchestra will also feature, in addition to performers on the bongos and oud, a middle-Eastern string instrument.

“There will be something for everybody,” concert producer and executive director of the Zionist Council of Victoria, Ginette Searle said of the April 19 show. “We are looking forward to what will be a very jubilant and exciting night.”

Past musical director Adam Starr will return to the role once again, however he has been
conducting meetings and rehearsals over Skype from Jerusalem, having moved to Israel for the year.

He will return to Melbourne a week-and-a-half before the concert to continue rehearsing, this time on a face-to-face basis.

Sydney performer Natalie Gamsu with, what Searle called, her “amazingly, powerful voice” will
headline the concert, while Deborah Leiser-Moore will return as show director and Guy Dvir-Ovadia as audio-visual producer and choreographer.

With the audience always keen to get involved, Searle said there will be a sing-a-long segment
lead by visiting emissaries from Israel and musician Alana Bruce, who will encourage the audience to be a part of the show.

“This is how our community celebrates Israel and Yom Ha’atzmaut,” Searle said. “We always need to get behind and support Israel. This is how we celebrate the relationship between Australian Jews and Israel.”

The backdrop of the concert will feature video footage shot by Dvir-Ovadia on a recent trip to
Israel. Other video clips will include surprise tributes and messages from some of Israel’s most famous people.

It will be the last year the concert is held at the Art’s Centre’s Hamer Hall for a number of
years due to renovation plans. With tickets currently on sale, Searle said the booking system couldn’t be easier.

Flare-up over priest’s remarks

SYDNEY, 10 April – Jewish-Catholic relations in Australia will not be damaged by offensive
comments made by a high-ranking Catholic priest during Easter, according to interfaith relations expert Josie Lacey.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who it has been reported is the only person allowed to preach to
Pope Benedict XVI, quoted a letter from a “Jewish friend” at an Easter service.

In a speech that was reproduced in the official Vatican newspaper, the priest said the attacks
against the Church over allegations it had covered up child abuse were just like the “more
shameful aspects of anti-Semitism”.

He soon issued an apology, asking for forgiveness and distancing the Pope from the address, saying the Pontiff had not been informed of it before the service.

Sydney-based Lacey called on Father Cantalamessa to reveal his anonymous friend. “If you don’t have a name, it is an allegation, it is nothing,” she said of his statement.

The chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies interfaith committee said relations between the
Catholic Church and Jewish community in Australia are strong, despite some concerns about this papal regime. “I think people have to realise, even the hierarchy in the Catholic Church have their own opinions, there are not universal, blanket opinions about anything.”

She agreed that every Easter, matters of contention between the two faith communities seem
to arise, and it was something that a Jewish delegation to World Youth Day had sought to rectify.

These sorts of offensive flare-ups are not expected to stop until the whole Catholic world
accepts the ruling from Vatican II in 1965 that Jews were not responsible for the crucifixion of
Jesus and calling for an end to anti-Semitism, Lacey said.

“Although the enlightened Catholics understand Vatican II, there are all these people who have
never heard of it from Third World countries, and I think it is still in their folklore.


Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

The Jews Down Under … Roundup of Australian Jewish News

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment


Compiled by Garry Fabian

Outback dreams come true for kids

TOOMELAH, New South Wales– In an outback Aboriginal community in north-west NSW, there’s an air of excitement among the
Aboriginal children as they await a visit by a group of young Jewish adults.

The visits have become a regular feature in the Toomelah and Boggabilla Aboriginal settlements situated in remote country near the
NSW-Queensland border, where the Jewish volunteers spend 10 days working with Aboriginal children on holiday programs.

Organised by Jewish Aid Australia (JAA), in association with the Shalom Institute of NSW, the visits are part of the Derech Eretz program held each January and July.

This year’s summer group comprised 13 people, mainly university students from Victoria and NSW, who left Sydney on January 23 on a two-day busride to reach the Aboriginal communities. The group was led by JAA CEO Gary Samowitz – who was making his eighth visit – and included Monash University student and former SKIF rosh Rebecca Shonberg, 21.

“As soon as we arrived we got a warm welcome from the kids. They had been looking forward to our arrival,” said Shonberg.

The main activity is a holiday program for children in the Aboriginal communities of Toomelah and Boggabilla in arid country near
Goondiwindi, about 370 kilometres south-west of Brisbane. Toomelah is an isolated settlement with only a few buildings, including a school, while Boggabilla is situated on a main highway with shops and more facilities.

“When you first arrive you get a shock – it seems like you are in a third-world country in our own backyard,” said Shonberg. “Most of us are from Caulfield or Bondi and have never been to an Aboriginal community before.”

A typical day involved conducting holiday activities for children aged2-12 years during the morning, while attending lectures from members of the local community during the afternoon.

“The holiday program was important for the kids – otherwise they would be roaming the streets with nothing to do,” said Shonberg. “The kids loved it and would keep coming back every day.

“One day we went into Goondi­windi and drove around in our mini-bus for 10 minutes announcing a kids’ holiday program. When we got back to the meeting place there were dozens of kids waiting for us.”

Conditions were hot with temperatures reachingmore than 40 degrees and the volunteers were thankful that their motel was air-conditioned.

“It was not a holiday, but it was a fun and rewarding experience. It was a way of giving something back to the wider community while
learning about ourselves and what being a good Jew is,” said Shonberg.

All the participants volunteered for the Derech Eretz program to help assist in humanitarian projects in the wider community and to practise
the Jewish concepts of tzedakah (justice), chesed (kindness) and tikkun olam (repair the world).

Samowitz said Derech Eretz was established five years ago to build a relationship with indigenous communities that would allow for intensive engagement and learning by student-age volunteers
while helping the communities.

“The Jewish community has the resources and the responsibility to help those in need,” said Samowitz. “The Aboriginals have a beautiful
culture but their communities need assistance.”

He said the Derech Eretz program had built a strong relationship with the Toomelah and Boggabilla communities and the Aboriginal elders
had praised the work of the long-term project.

“The volunteers that go to these Aboriginal settlements learn about issues facing the Aboriginal community through first-hand
experience and by meeting community leaders.”

In 1988, then-justice Marcus Einfeld, in his role as head of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, visited Toomelah and
was shocked by what he saw. The inhumane living conditions and the lack of basic services such as electricity, sewerage and clean water moved him to tears.

The Toomelah Report, which was the outcome of that visit, stated that “no Australian citizen should be living in such conditions in 1988,
especially when the conditions are determined and provided by the organs of the government”. The report made a range of recommendations, many of which were later implemented.

Samowitz said the Aboriginal people could look to the Jewish ­community when it comes to ­preservation of culture, memorialisation of past genocide and community unity. But in turn, the
Jewish people have so much to learn from the Aboriginal community about humility and understanding the land.

He said there were plans for the Derech Eretz program to expand to other Aboriginal communities in the future.

Samowitz said another benefit of the Derech Eretz program was that it helped volunteers who were not strongly involved in the Jewish community to meet other young Jews.

“Some people are not actively involved in the community and this program provides an opportunity to make other Jewish friends,” he said.

“On one program we had a volunteer whose first Shabbat experience in many years was on a remote Aboriginal community.”

Israel supplies Australian troops

CANBERRA–Fears of a diplomatic fallout over the forged passport affair don’t seem to have hampered trade between Israel and Australia.

Israeli company Elbit Systems, which supplies the Israel Defence Forces, was this week granted the $349 million contract to supply command, controland communications systems to the Australian Army.

Australian Minister for Defence Personnel Greg Combet said the deal is a big step forward for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF).

“The introduction of this new capability will increase the ADF’s battle space awareness, automate combat messaging and assist in the
successful conduct of operations,” Combet said.

Not only is the relationship a trade one, but some of the contract will be completed in Australia.

“Systems integration testing will be performed in Melbourne, while vehicle integration into over  1000 army vehicles will occur in Brisbane,” Combet said.

The new system will provide new technology in battle to more than 1500 Australian soldiers and it will also be rolled out in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Elbit CEO Joseph Ackerman said the order would be completed over the next three years.

“Australia is a very important market for Elbit Systems, and we are extremely proud to be selected by the Department of Defence for this major program,” Ackerman said.
Goldstein  seen as player with a bright future at top level

MELBOURNE, 18 March – After a strong finish to the 2010 season, it is clear that Todd Goldstein is part of new coach Brad Scott’s plans for the Kangaroos this year.

The 201-centimetre ruckman has featured heavily in North Melbourne Football Club’s eye-catching pre-season so far, including a gutsy win against reigning (Australian Football League) AFL premiers Geelong in the first round of he NAB Cup and a promising NAB Challenge win against the 2008 champion Hawthorn.

Goldstein’s form leading up to North Melbourne’s round one clash against Port Adelaide on March 28 has been solid, with the 22-year-old staking his claim to a spot in the side’s best 22.

“I don’t think I’ve really been this confident in myself before,” Goldstein said.

“I’m just hoping to cement a spot, get more confident and try to put consistent performances together. I didn’t do that in the first half of
last year and that’s what kept me in and out of the side.”

A third-round pick for North Melbourne in 2006 National Draft, Goldstein played 13 senior games in 2009, including the last seven of the season.

His breakout performance came against Melbourne in round 19, when the talented big man booted five goals, as well as taking 17 possessions, 17 hit outs and seven marks.

“I know that when I get do get picked that I can perform to the level that’s required. In the first few games I wasn’t really sure whether I
deserved it or not, but once you start playing you get a bit more consistent and it really does make the difference.”

But with one of the most inexperienced lists in the AFL, Goldstein’s role at the club has expanded to include mentoring. In his fourth year
at the club, Goldstein says he enjoys passing on some of the benefits of hi experience in the system.

“This is my fourth year now and third full pre-season so you do learn a lot in the first few years. If you look at the club we’ve got 32
players who have been drafted in the last four years, so we’ve got a lot of young blokes. I’m still seen as part of that young group, but you
definitely pass on your experience to some of the boys and try to help them survive the rigours of AFL footy. It does get pretty hard and does become a bit of a grind if you’re not able to cope with it.

Letting in the light

MELBOURNE 19 March  – An amateur leadlighter and a Jewish artist have teamed up to complete 10 colourful stained glass windows at Blake Street Hebrew Congregation (one of the newer congregations in Melbourne).

The windows, which reflect Jewish and Israeli themes, were created by synagogue committee member Professor David Abramson together with ZsuZsi Hartman.

The project took three years, with Hartman coming up with the artistic concept and Prof Abramson, a computer science expert at Monash University, putting the windows together.

Prof Abramson said both he and Hartman learned a lot during the process – “she learned a lot about the physical limitations of glass, and I learned a lot about design and colour”.

The windows will be officially unveiled at Blake Street Hebrew Congregation on April 10.

Ancient siddurim arrive at Yad Vashem – via Australia

MELBOURNE, 19 March – Two ancient prayer books have made their way out of hiding in Hungary and into Yad Vashem’s archives – via Australia.

Melbourne couple Andrew and Erica Romer were following in the footsteps of Erica’s Hungarian ancestors, when they happened across the books more than 20 years ago.

In a story that sounds like a Hollywood cliche, they met an old friend of the family who gave them the ancient machzors (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayer books).

Honoured to receive the responsibility of looking after the historical books, the Romers kept them safely in their home before meeting a Yad Vashem executive, who suggested they donate them to the Holocaust museum.

The tale began during the couple’s visit to Budapest in 1989, when they visited an old Orthodox synagogue in the city’s backstreets.

Andrew, a lawyer, said the shul’s caretaker looked closely at his wife, asking her if she was related to a girl he had known as a child.

“He recognised Erica’s mother in Erica,” Andrew said. “So a little relationship developed between the two of them, and he took us to a normally out-of-bounds area upstairs.

“He explained to us that every now and then, when he finds people he thinks he can trust, he takes the opportunity of squirrelling out an item or two.”

The attic was full — floor to ceiling — of old religious books and silverware that had been protected in the safe haven during the Holocaust, and then into Hungary’s communist era.

The Romers were not entirely sure how to respond when the caretaker asked them to accept two old books — which were close to A3 in size, heavy and fragile.

“We took them back to the hotel and thought, ‘What are we going to do with them now?'”

Despite the risks of taking old books out of a then-communist country, the Romers wrapped them in layers of soft clothes and buried them in their luggage.

When they arrived back in Melbourne, they stored the books carefully in a cool, dry place, but decided to leave them in their original condition rather than having them restored.

It was at this time that Andrew discovered the precise vintage of the books – the Yom Kippur machzor dated back to 1703 and the Rosh Hashanah one to 1811.

Fast-forward a few decades, and Andrew got to know David Metzler, the director of Yad Vashem’s English-speaking desk, who suggested the family might like to add them to the museum’s 20,000 item collection.

“The machzorim donated to Yad Vashem by the Romer family are fine examples of  what appear to be prayer books that were in use in synagogues, rather than in private use,” Metzler explained.

“The care that was obviously taken to preserve these old tomes, even under the circumstances of the Nazi occupation, is clear, and we are
grateful that the caretaker of the synagogue saw fit to pass them on to the Romers so that they could be preserved for the future.”

With the help of the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, particularly chef de mission Eli Yerushalmi, the Romers donated the books to the museum. Because of their delicacy, they could not just be posted or shipped.

Instead, the embassy organised for them to go in the diplomatic post. They arrived earlier this month in Jerusalem, and are now in the care of the artefacts’ department, where they are being preserved and restored.

The next step is to document them and look under the microscope to discover the books’ histories.

“The Australian Jewish community has been a source for many artfacts in Yad Vashem’s collections, both from the large survivor community in Australia, and from individuals from the Jewish and general community, who continue to see us as a place that commemorates, as well as telling the history of, the Holocaust.”


Jewish soldier identified

CANBERRA, 19 March – One of the First World War diggers buried in Fromelles was this week identified as Jewish Anzac Berrol Mendelsohn.

For almost a century, relatives of the Australian soldier were left wondering what happened to him after he went missing in the 1916 Battles of Fromelles.

Then on Tuesday morning, retired Melbourne professor Oliver Mendelsohn received a phone call from military authorities informing him that his great uncle was among the 75 identified troops
that were unearthed from a grave containing 250 bodies two years ago.

“I was quite emotional,” said 65-year-old Oliver when he found out his DNA sample had helped identify his lost uncle. “I’m kind of amazed with this technology.”

Lieutenant Mendelsohn enlisted in the Australian Army at age 24 and served in Gallipoli before heading to the Western Front in 1916. According to military records, he was hit by a shell during the advance near the German trenches on July 20 and died instantly. His body was never recovered.

“His mother was tormented with not knowing where his body lay, and she corresponded with the army for years, trying to make sense of his death,” the nephew said.

Last month, the soldiers – apart from one – were re-interred in individual, unmarked graves. Those who have been identified will now have their headstones inscribed and unveiled in a commemorative ceremony on July 16.

The family said it was making arrangements to organise a Jewish headstone for the soldier.

Oliver said he would like to attend the service, but “it would depend on its nature”.

He and relatives of other missing Jewish diggers recently expressed anger that a ceremony earlier this year to re-inter the soldiers was “exclusively Christian”.

Federation of Australian Jewish ex-Servicemen president Wes Browne said his organisation would make every effort to ensure Lieutenant Mendelsohn was honoured as a Jew.

Senior defence force rabbi Ralph Genende said he was also hoping to have rabbinic representation at the unveiling of the tombstone.

“The positive identification of Jewish remains has only intensified our efforts to ensure that there be Jewish rabbinical representation ­
preferably Australian ­ at the service. We are heartened by the support we have received in many quarters,” he said.

Often described as the bloodiest 24 hours in Australia’s history, the Battle of Fromelles is the military’s biggest single loss of life to
date, costing almost 2000 Australian lives.

A Shlep beyond the big city

LISMORE, NSW– Somewhere in the outback – Down a winding, dusty country road in northwest NSW, three young rabbis drive their “Mitzvah Tank” van near the town of Lismore.

It is erev Shabbat, and they’re on a quest to find some Jews.

They pull up at the home of a 40-year-old Jewish woman named Clara, whom they had heard about through a friend. Their aim is to drop off a
Shabbat candle-lighting kit and have a quick chat before continuing on their journey.

Once inside, however, they get a little more than they had bargained for.

“She just stared at it for a moment and started sobbing,” recalled one of the travelling rabbis, Shmuel Loebenstein. “She explained that her late
mother was the last one to have lit Shabbat candles in her family.”

Now, 10 years later, with her own set of candles, the woman could finally do so again.

It was a small step towards rekindling her faith, but a significant one.

And it’s just the kind of action the rabbis of Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia (Chabad RARA) hope to inspire from their missions into some of the more remote parts of Australia, where Jews are few and far between.

This year marks the 10th anniversary since the group first started taking to the road to meet Jews living outside the capital cities and help them to reconnect with their heritage. According to its founder, Saul Spigler, the group is thriving.

 From its Caufield-based headquarters in Melbourne, it routinely dispatches small groups of mostly young rabbis in their early 20s, to
areas as far afield as Cairns and Darwin for periods of up to 10 weeks at a time.

Travelling in a painted canary-yellow van – with the words “Do A Mitzvah Today!” emblazoned on its side – the men organise everything from circumcisions and weddings to the provision of mezuzahs, teffillin and Jewish books.

They also host Jewish festivals and in the coming weeks for Pesach, the centre has lined up a number of sedars in cities scattered across
Australia – including Nowra, Newcastle, on the Sunshine Coast and in Townsville.

“We’ve got people on the road for more than half the year,” said Spigler, who also works as a practicing lawyer.

“Some haven’t seen another Jewish person for 40 years, and we just turn up. Sometimes you just talk to people. We try to help as much as we can.”

The 55-year-old founder said he originally came up with the idea more than 30 years ago, when he took a road trip in his early 20s with a few of his mates around Australia.

At the time, he discovered a number of disenfranchised Jews living in rural towns.

“Everyone had a different reason for being somewhere, and these people had been isolated from their own. I saw a real need to care about these Jewish people.”

Years later in 2000, he officially opened the Chabad centre and since then, the group has steadily grown.

Apart from its missions, it has also set up programs such as JNET “Torah over the phone”, which pairs remote Jews with mentors, and runs summer and winter camps for youth. It also takes advantage of modern technology, offering video-conference shiurs via Skype, and is
exploring the idea of setting up an online Jewish school for children.

“I didn’t believe it would go that far, that’s for sure,” said Spigler.

For Rabbi Moshe Loebenstein, Chabad RARA’s director of operations, however, it’s the face-to-face contact with remote Jews that is the
most rewarding part of the job.

Recently, he traveled to Cairns to host a Shabbat dinner and met a young Jewish couple living in the northern town of Cooktown. The woman worked as a doctor in the local hospital.

“They drove three hours just to meet some other Jews. They had been isolated from any form of Judaism and just wanted to see another Jewish person and share a l’chaim,” he said. “It was so beautiful to see what we could do for them. They made some friends and contacts, and I can only hope they’ll keep in touch in between the times that I cannot be there.”

It’s these kinds of encounters that motivateSpigler and the rabbis to keep doing their work.

“Every time you scratch the surface, you find anew story and I guess that keeps me going,” said Spigler.


Victorian Premier pays tribute to Jewish contribution

MELBOURNE, 22 March- Victorian Premier John Brumby paid tribute to Victoria’s Jewish community for its role in fostering diversity and
multiculturalism in the state at a United Israel Appeal (UIA) fundraising dinner last week.

“Victoria’s Jewish community, the largest and most vibrant Jewish community in Australia, has itself played an immense role in making our state so diverse, so multicultural, so multi-faith and
so tolerant,” the Premier said.

Brumby added that his government’s efforts “to stamp out religious and racial vilification have received immeasurable support from Jewish communities here in Victoria”.

He recalled the Jewish community’s support when, as Opposition leader in the mid-1990s, he worked closely with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria to develop a framework for racial
vilification legislation that was brought into law by the ALP government in 2001-02.

“As you know, there were quite significant differences in many of the multicultural communities about the value of that legislation.
So it was really the leadership of the Jewish community working with us and making that commitment that saw that legislation put into place in 2001.

“And in particular, in that regard, I would want to acknowledge the work of the Zionist Council of Victoria and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria because you’ve all worked so hard to
promote mutual understanding and tolerance and to
support the democratic fundamentals of dialogue and inclusion.”

Urging the Jewish community to support the UIA, Brumby noted that the organisation “is concerned not only with material assistance, but also with the preservation and protection of the neshamah,
the concept of the Jewish soul”.

He commended UIA’s initiatives in taking Jews and non-Jews, many from Victoria, to Israel on cultural exchange programs, “to share the values of the Australian Diaspora community” and to bring home new ideas to Australia.

He gave as an example the groundbreaking Victoria-Israel Science and Technology Research and Development Fund (VISTECH) – launched by Brumby as minister for innovation in 2005 – which has received 175 expressions of interest and is now into its seventh round of grants.

Special guest Kathy Kellerman, an American who made aliyah, also spoke at the function about the Keren Hayesod-UIA Nitzana Youth Village initiative in the Negev, where she lives and works.

She predicted that Israel’s south, comprising more than 60 per cent of the country’s land mass, would become a major population centre in the future, as sustainable water and power technologies, now under development in Nitzana, became widespread.

UIA Victoria paid tribute to veteran fundraiser George Kuran, 90, who told the gathering his passion for digging deep to help Israel was
sparked by a solidarity drive at South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation during the Six-Day War, and has grown ever since. In his honour, the UIA funded a 12-month scholarship for a young Victorian to take part in the programs at Nitzana.

Fabian is Australia bureau chief of San Diego Jewish World

The Jews Down Under … Roundup of Australian Jewish News

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Zentai gets Yuletide reprieve

PERTH 29 December – A grant of bail from the Federal Court has allowed accused war criminal  Charles Zentai to spend Christmas with his family.

The Federal Court in Perth earlier in December  ordered the 88-year-old to be released from prison, as he awaits the final decision on whether he will be extradited to Hungary to face charges over a 1944 murder.

Justice Neil McKerracher said Zentai was a low flight risk and granted bail for him, after the Commonwealth did not oppose a bail application from his lawyers.

Zentai’s legal team has successfully petitioned the Federal Court to review a decision by Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor in October, which approved a submission from the Hungarian government to extradite him to face court in Budapest.

The Perth resident is charged with involvement in the murder of Peter Balazs, a Budapest teenager, who he allegedly arrested for not wearing the mandatory yellow star.

Zentai is accused of bringing Balazs back to a military barracks where he was allegedly involved in beating the Jewish teen to death, before dumping his body in the Danube River.

Two Hungarian army officers were convicted shortly after World War II for their parts in the murder.

Zentai has denied the charges since they were laid in 2005, and claimed he was not in Budapest on the date of the murder.

He was located as part of Operation Last Chance, an initiative of the Israel-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre to bring aging war criminals to justice.

A climate change focus for rabbi’s

MELBOURNE 29 Decemner – Climate change issues became a hot talking point in shuls around Australia last Shabbat as rabbis raised the issue to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The 12-day gathering of global leaders concluded at the weekend without a binding resolution on a new worldwide climate treaty.

Following a call by Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth Lord Jonathan Sacks to speak about the environment in sermons, Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria  (RCV), sent a request to all member rabbis to
dedicate at least part of their sermons to highlight the importance of preserving the environment in accordance with the Torah and halachah.

Rabbi Glasman, who is the rabbi at the North Eastern Jewish Centre, said he was pleased that the rabbinate was taking a leading role in this area.

“The Jewish community is aware of the importance of the environment,” he said.

“In my sermon I noted that there are many opinions about climate change, but it is better to err on the side of caution. We don’t lose anything by adhering to the warnings about climate change.

“It is a basic mandate of the Torah to preserve the environment. We are the custodians of the earth for the sake of God and future generations.”

Rabbi Glasman said that on a personal note he felt the result of the Copenhagen conference was “disappointing”, but should also be seen positively as a step in the right direction.

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black of the Leo Baeck Centre, Kew, gave one of his first sermons about the environment in 1988 and returned to the topic last Shabbat.

“Reaching an agreement at the Copenhagen conference was always going to be a hugely challenging task,” he said.

Rabbi Keren-Black, who founded the Jewish Ecological Coalition in 2003 and more recently the interfaith environmental group GreenFaith, said it was imperative that the nations of the world develop an action plan on climate change.

Change of scene for soccer star

SYDNEY 30 December – Six months ago, Steve Solomon was the lightning-quick skipper of Australia’s junior Maccabiah football side, who did a bit of sprinting on the side at school.

Now, after blitzing all before him in the state and national school athletic championships, the 16-year-old has been scouted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

He will train in Canberra during his school break, before spending the year in Athletics Australia’s under-19 talent squad in Sydney.

Having been hand-picked by the sport’s roof body, Solomon now has his eyes firmly on the track, and aims “to represent my country, hopefully at the Rio Olympics”.

The meteoric shift from soccer enthusiast to Olympic sprint aspirant comes on the back of a phenomenal athletics season.

Representing the Cranbrook School, Solomon won the long jump and broke the Combined Associated Schools’ (CAS) longstanding 200-metre record,
while also setting a new best in the 400-metre event.

He began turning heads when he went to the NSW State Championships and broke the 400-metre hurdles record in his first attempt at the race, while also winning the 400-metre flat race.

He collected another booty of gold representing NSW at the Australian All Schools in Hobart, winning his pet 400-metre event in the under-17
division, while also collecting a win in the 4×400-metre relay. In just his third hurdles race, he was pipped on the line to claim silver.

Solomon will now enjoy the benefit of the AIS’ resources -­ an exciting proposition given that he has hardly trained beyond his school’s seasonal athletics program and runs a personal best of 48.32 over 400 metres, and 53.70 in the 400-metre hurdles event.

“I’m completely open-minded to it and willing to give everything a go to see how far I can take it,” Solomon enthused.

“I’ve always been running, but this year everything has fallen into place . I was quietly confident, only because I knew I’d beaten the other competitors before, but was very surprised at the same time ­- particularly with the hurdles. It was only my third hurdles race.”
Lifeline for Masada College

ADELAIDE’–This city’s  only Jewish school, Massada College, will continue operating this year after members of the Australian Jewish community have rallied to donate to the beleaguered school.

Primary among donors was Melbourne-based philanthropist Joseph Gutnick who has given the college $100,000.

Calls by Australian rabbis from their pulpits have also paid off, with members of one Melbourne synagogue reportedly pledging thousands of dollars to assist the school.

The primary school faced immediate closure if it could not raise the required funds and quickly. The South Australian Government offered an undisclosed amount of assistance to Massada if it could match it with community money.

School president Yuval Yarom said they were grateful for all the assistance, which will help Adelaide’s families provide their children with a Jewish education.

Gutnick told The AJN he is please to be in a position to help the school, just as he has helped numerous communal organisations across Australia in the past.

“No community can exist without a Jewish school,” he said. “I hope everyone will help to keep this school going.”

He also urged others to chip in for Adelaide’s Jewish community.

Gold Coast shule’s Rabbi in jeopardy

BRISBANE, 7 January – It may be the high season in Surfers Paradise, just a few kms from Brisbane,  but the Gold Coast Hebrew Congregation has been forced to send out an urgent appeal for support.

The synagogue relies on a small handful of benefactors for much of its revenue, but donations are dwindling, and the fundraising fall means the shul is seriously considering slashing the rabbi’s salary.

“One of our benefactors, for personal reasons, cannot afford to support us financially as much as he used to,” Gold Coast shul president David Rebibou explained.

The AJN also understands that another of the congregation’s major donors passed away in recent years and the next generation of his family has reduced its annual donation.

The loss of support, which has left the shul with a $90,000 shortfall, means the synagogue may be required to cut Rabbi Nir Gurevitch’s salary.

“We don’t know if the rabbi will accept it, or look for another position,” Rebibou said of the congregation’s full-time spiritual leader.

Rabbi Gurevitch’s contract expires on February 12 and the president said the shul must raise the required money before that date.

“I am a big supporter of the rabbi . we would like to keep him.”

A crisis meeting was held recently and the decision was taken to contact community members — not just in Queensland, but also interstate — for assistance.

“We sent something like 400 pledges,” he said. “When people from Sydney and Melbourne come to the Gold Coast, there is a shul to service their needs, in terms of the synagogue, kosher food, services, Shabbat.”

Surfers Paradise has had its own Orthodox congregation for 52 years, serving both the local community and interstate visitors to the popular holiday destination. As well as regular minyans and Shabbat services, the synagogue also has a mikvah and community hall.

Rebibou said the congregation is strong, it is just in need of financial assistance.

“We’ve increased our membership, but a big drop in income like this is difficult.”
Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Iranian soccer official forced to resign for sending New Year’s greeting to Israeli counterpart

January 4, 2010 Leave a comment

TEHRAN (WJC)–The head of Iran’s soccer federation was forced to issue a public apology and a member of his staff resigned after the federation mistakenly sent a New Year’s greeting to its counterpart in Israel. “It was a big mistake sending an e-mail to Israel’s football federation,” Ali Kaffashian, president of the Iran Football Federation, said in a statement.

“However, I am sure the director of the foreign relations office did not do it on purpose.”

Kaffashian said Iran’s soccer association routinely sent greeting cards to all members of world football federation FIFA, except for Israel. Iran has refused to meet with Israel in international sports competitions.

Mohammad-Mansour Azimzadeh Ardebili, the head of the league’s foreign relations office, had resigned over the matter, Kaffashian said.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Israeli goalie cursed by crowd in Spanish soccer match

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

PAMPLOMA, Spain (WJC)—The first-division Spanish soccer Club Atlético Osasuna is facing disciplinary action after the referee at the team’s recent game against Real Mallorca, Alfonso Álvarez, reported that home fans had subjected Mallorca’s Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to anti-Semitic abuse.

According to referee Álvarez, “From the 14th minute and on five other occasions in the first half, [anti-Semitic] chants… were directed at the visiting goalkeeper by the home fans behind the goal, every time he touched the ball.”

The referee informed the match delegate and a message was put out over the stadium PA system calling for the chants to stop. They were not repeated in the second half. The Osasuna fans also waved Palestinian flags and also shouted “murderer” at Aouate.

Aouate told local media that, “This happens to me every time I play here in Pamplona. It really makes me happy that we won.” It was not the first time that the Israeli keeper has been subjected to anti-Semitic taunts by Osasuna fans.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Soccer match was pre-Chanukah present for this dad

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

By Gary Rotto

EL CAJON, California–Hanukkah came a day early for me.  On Thursday, I had the pleasure of watching the first San Diego Jewish Academy  Middle School Girls Soccer game of the year.  I’ve coached soccer for 8 years.

Soon after embarking on my coaching “career”, SDJA decided to initiate a Sports Booster Club.  As the parent of a then-elementary school student, I was seen as a neutral party – someone who did not have a child on any school sports team and therefore, did not have a favorite team.  So I became the first President of the Lions Athletic Sports Booster Club.

Our board sought to stimulate attendance at the high school football games, raise a little money for sports equipment such as weight room equipment, a batting cage and other non-budgeted athletic needs.  My goal was to make sure that both boys and girls sports programs would be treated equally – from encouraging attendance at the football games to rallying support for the girls’ volleyball team.  The weight room was a non-issue as the equipment would be available to all SDJA athletes.

When growing up in New Jersey, I don’t recall a girls’ sports program – or at least it was an afterthought.  I have a vague recollection of the high school girls’ basketball team playing with six players on the court, but only two players could move out of the defensive zone.  I recall my cousin Amy, the best jumper shooter I ever saw having to play on a “club” team at the University of Texas because the school did not have an official women’s basketball team.  I couldn’t understand why young women didn’t have the same opportunity as me and my friends.

So for the time in which my daughter attended the SDJA elementary school, I made no secret of my desire to assure that not only would the boys’ sports thrive, but that the school would pay attention to the girls sports.  If the program would develop and thrive during these years, a strong program – both boys and girls – would be in place for when my daughter and her classmates entered the Middle School years.

So several years after stepping aside,  after many times attending SDJA girl volleyball, boys soccer, girls soccer and boys football games, here I was on the visitors’ side of the field in El Cajon.  And there was my daughter in on the field for the first time representing SDJA at an away game.  And she was asked to start in goal.  And the boys watched on the sidelines, supporting the girls.  And some of the boys asked if we would stay for the second game to cheer them on when they would take the field.

I could think of no greater gift – to see the two teams support each other, travel together to other schools and compete on an equal footing.  And I felt as though I had received a bonus gift with my daughter playing in goal.

Go Lions and Chag Sameach!

Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego.  He may be contacted at