Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Chabad of CBD" opportunity

Here’s an opening for the warriors in the battle for the title of Chabad shliach in the CBD.

Seeing that each side is backed by a well-heeled BRW rich-lister – Joe Gutnick v. Nathan Werdiger, why doesn’t one of them invest in the original Melbourne Shul and turn it into a REAL “Chabad of CBD”?
The senior Werdigers

Joseph Gutnick with the Legend sponsored Mount Isa AFL Team
 (Note to Colliers: If our suggestion is taken up, AJN Watch would appreciate a spotter’s fee. Thanks.)

Message to Solomon Lew: Give the average Aussie a go.

Is there any way to describe Solly’s letter in the AJN other than pure spin and chutzpah?
Observing him and his partners in the “Retail Coalition” trying to impose GST on imported goods valued under $1000 is an unsightly and greedy attack on Australian families who have found a way to save substantial amounts on by purchasing products available from on-line businesses.

What Lew doesn’t realise is that while being GST-free is helpful, the main reason we are buying over the web is because prices are far, far lower than Solly and his friends are charging us in their stores. In fact the GST component often doesn’t even cover the shipping costs involved. What really makes us go online are the actual prices of the goods purchased – often 30-40% below the local cost.
From Herald-Sun

Your crocodile tears about the threat to Australian jobs should have been shed when big retailers were devastating most of the small shops and shopping strips all over the country.

And do you think that we have forgotten how you and the others who do nearly all their buying overseas have totally ruined the Australian clothing and footwear manufacturing industries. How much concern was there about those Aussie jobs?

One would’ve thought that after Gerry Harvey backed out of this crusade your Yiddishe kop would also have also realised that you and your companies aren’t gaining any friends by continuing this campaign.

And it seems that even Dr Seuss has issues with Sol:
and there's even a Hebrew version...

Here's an item in today's Sunday Age "Heckler" column:
We wonder what this nephew thinks about Uncle Sol's idea to charge GST for on-line purchases?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How will our kids afford a home?

Posted by a very concerned parent:

The price of housing in both Melbourne and Sydney is totally out of hand and getting worse by the week. How will our children ever be able to afford even the most basic accommodation? Here's an article published in yesterday's Age:

Melbourne housing now 'severely unaffordable'
Chris Zappone   January 24, 2011
Australian homes among least affordable

Sky-high house prices in some of our biggest cities have made Australia one of the least affordable places to live in the world. Melbourne has scored near the bottom of an international ranking of housing affordability, stoking fears runaway house prices have made Australia a less equitable country.

Update The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, which ranked 325 markets by affordability, listed Melbourne as the world's 321st most affordable city, more reasonably priced than only Sydney and a handful of other locations.

London is more affordable than Geelong.
The ratio of house prices to median yearly household income was 9 in Melbourne, versus 9.6 in Sydney - the second least affordable city in the world, in spot number 324, according to data produced by the US-New Zealand anti-regulation group Demographia in a survey of six English-speaking nations and Hong Kong.

The group put the median Melbourne house price at $565,000 with the median household income at $63,100. Hong Kong came in last at number 325, with an income-house price ratio of 11.4, while Saginaw, in Michigan ranked No. 1, with a multiple of 1.6. Demographia considers markets with a median multiple of 3 or less "affordable", while those with 5.1 or more are considered "severely unaffordable". Australia's major markets were all considered "severely unaffordable''.

US-based geographer and author Joel Kotkin said that even after the housing bubble implosion in the US and Britain beginning in 2008, the ratio of home prices to incomes has grown in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, London, Toronto and Vancouver. "Perhaps most remarkable has been the shift in Australia, once the exemplar of modestly priced, high-quality, middle-class housing, to now the most unaffordable housing market in the English-speaking world," he said. "The real issue is affordability and Australia has gone from a middle-class paradise in that regard into a more stratified society - just as we find in Britain and parts of the US." SNIPPED
 House prices plateaued in mid-2010, amid interest rate rises and a weaker pace of sales. The national city dwelling price fell 0.2 per cent in November, to $466,000, according to RP Data-Rismark information. Six in 10 Australians live in major cities. The third quarter 2010 rankings were compiled from national housing reports and estimates drawn from census data on incomes, with calculations made in local currency.

Swelling cities
Separately, a report from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship calculates that if 260,000 migrants come to Australia per year, both Sydney and Melbourne will need to expand by 430,000 hectares, or 4300 kilometers by 2060. “Expansion of urban areas raises issues such as likely increases in traffic congestion, city (air) pollution, and competition for land as a resource,” the report concluded. “The latter is an important issue since peripheral land of a number of capital cities has been relatively productive agriculture land, which can supply fresh food to the local area with lower freight requirements.”

The report on the physical impact of immigration was prepared by Flinders University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Sustainable Ecosystems Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

'Severely unaffordable'
The Demographia report showed Australian cities shared the mantle of “severely unaffordable” with American, Canadian, British and New Zealand cities. Demographia listed Melbourne as the world's 321st most affordable city, more reasonably priced than only Sydney, which came in at 325th, and a handful of other locations. The survey found that the ratio of house prices to median annual household income was 9.6 in Sydney. It put the median house price at $634,300 and median income $66,200.SNIPPED
Sydney-based real estate research and investment group Rismark believes Australian homes will become more affordable through 2011, as incomes remain strong and house prices flatten out. "As Australia's business investment and export boom drives strong household income growth at the same time as interest rates keep dwelling prices in check, we are likely to see a substantial improvement in residential real estate valuations," said Rismark joint managing director Christopher Joye. SNIPPED

If the situation is so dire for the general popluation, al achas kamoh vekamoh for obersernant Jews who are so severely limited to where they can live?

Whatever happened to the much ballyhooed plans for a “shtetel” in Melton and/or Caroline Springs - which the AJN reported on some time ago? And what about all those Adassniks who were considering a move to Frankston? (Actually we hear that a number [of non-Adassniks] have already moved there or are in the process of doing so.)

And what happened to that magnificent initiative of the late Mr Izzy Herzog ע''ה to construct affordable apartments on the corner of Hotham Street and Glen Eira Road? That large piece of land still looks like a moonscape with nary a hut on it. Mr Herzog’s idea of building 20-25 flats there - exclusively to local frum families - would make a sizeable dent in the demand – at least for a while.

AJN Watch considers rocketing home prices as one of the most serious issues facing our community, one that needs to be taken up immediately by the Shuls and organisations. We cannot continue to tolerate a situation where families with 5 - and even more - children are cramped into 2 bedroom flats. And even these do not come cheap. Weekly rental of over $400 is quite common. And if you want to buy one, have over $400,000 ready.

It’s over to you - the leaders of  Melbourne and Sydney Kehillos. For the sake of your and our children and grandchildren.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Amazing grapes: "Without fear of Shmitta and foreskin..."

Forwarded from the SBA list:

Someone has emailed me a copy of a label for a brand of Israeli grape juice “Hamalug”. It carries the Hechsherim of both Agudas Yisroel and Rabbanut Jerusalem.
The (English) ingredients list includes the following gems:

“preservatives according to standards”,
“underwent pasteurization”,
“blessed by Borei Pri Hagefen”,
“Accepted as well by Maran Bet Yosef”,
“JNF (!?) 88 calories at 100ml”,
“Terumah (priestly tithe on produce)"
“This Tirosh is bottled in a new bottle and cooked”

But the gold medal must go to.....
"Without fear of Shmitta and foreskin” (!!!).

(For those who didn't catch on, that last attribute was their (or Google's) translation of נקי מחשש שמיטה וערלה (“naki mechashash shemittah v’orloh”)…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rabbis 'on the wagon': What next?

A whole month without Mashkeh! How are they going to survive?
After all, many of them have congregants who MUST be driving them to drink...

And lucky that this year there are 2 Adars - otherwise Purim would have messed up this Febfast shtick.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where are the Chabad rabbis?

Posted by "Baby-boomer Lubavitcher":

The youngsters in our midst (and by that I mean anyone under 40-45) would hardly remember or maybe even know of the "world war" that the Rebbe waged against the various governments of Israel - demanding that they put into place legislation which ensured "Giyur keHalacha", ie, that all conversions recognised by the Rabbanut and therefore the state must be according to the dinim of the Shulchan Aruch.

It would be well worthwhile for those "youngsters" to do some research to learn how our holy rebbe shook heaven and earth to try and force the Israeli politicians to introduce this.

Sadly he failed, resulting in – amongst other scandals - the assimilation of half a million goyim from the former Soviet Union who are today recognized as Jewish citizens of Israel.

The Israeli government has recently passed laws approving 'quickie' conversions to be performed by the Army rabbinate in a manner which is not acceptable as Halachic to the rest of the Rabbinate in Israel.

The leading Torah sages there have issued proclamations attacking this new move and no doubt we will be hearing much more about this in the coming days.
I am however puzzled about the absence of similar denunciations by the Chabad rabbis both in Israel and the Diaspora. They know as well as I do how close this issue was to the Rebbe's heart.

Shouldn't they be in the forefront of this latest campaign?

Yelamdenu Raboseinu, why are you quiet? Why aren't you involved in the holy battle for the integrity of our Torah and the honor of our Rebbe?

As I recall, last time, it was Reb Arel S. leading the troops here in Melbourne - gathering hundreds of signatures demanding Giyur keHalacha. Maybe it's time for a repeat performance?

PS. On a number of local blogs there has been - for the past weeks - debate and argument about who is and who isn't a "Shliach" and a "Head Shliach". My view is that anyone who doesn't publicly support, shturem and undertake Peulos for the Rebbe's inyonim has no right to make any claim for that title.