Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reb Meir Baal-Haness presents...

Full page advertisement in a recent issue of the Mishpacha. Forwarded to us by a reader, with the comment: "So Reb Meir Baal-Haness now does comedy and dance productions...?"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chutzpah of the UK legal system

Following in the steps of Israel - secular judges ruling on "Who is a Jew". An absolute disgrace!
And for once, we can agree with the sentiments expressed by the AJN's new editor Zeddy Lawrence:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Chanukah stuff that the Chashmonaim never dreamed of...

More submissions by "Weird Stuff Collector"

Looks a bit fishy...

The story behind this one.

World's First Single Malt Menorah

Published: December 16 2009 By Yaacov Behrman for
Two hundred people showed up at Buckhurst Hill Chabad to watch the lightning of a 7 foot menorah built out of clear piping filled with 65 Litres of Single Malt Scotch.

Rabbi Odom Brandman, director of the Buckhurst Hill Chabad Centre ,together with his community have previously built a six-foot chocolate menorah and a menorah out of food cans. But this year, they were looking for something unique.

The menorah was built by Desmond Solomon but they needed good Scotch. So on a recent trip to Scotland, Rabbi Brandman offered a number of distilleries the opportunity to partner with the building of the menorah.

The Tullibardine Distillery, in the famous Scottish Highlands, donated the Single Malt Scotch to fill the menorah. The Scotch arrived in a large drum and was poured straight into the Menorah. The Menorah was designed with a tap on the main stem and L’chaim’s were “on the house” for the night.

“It was an amazing event” said Rabbi Brandman. “The Whisky itself is really nice. It's smooth, mellow and has a slightly fruity flavor”.

Guests took home miniature souvenir bottles filled with Scotch from the Menorah.

Chanukah or Purim????

Lego on Chanukah? More suitable for in "Lego of my people..."

Sunday, December 20, 2009


As you may have noticed recently, the extremely useful  "Recent Comments" and "Recent Posts" function on our blog is out of order. We have done some research into this and find that many other bloggers are having the same problem. They too have been asking for help and advice, but - "ve'ein poser osom leParoy" - nobody seems to have a solution.

If you can be of assistance please contact us via the comments section or by email to:


Is this TRULY what Chanukah is about?

Guest Post by "Weird Stuff Collector"

Celebrate Chanukah with indigenous dancing and didgeridoo playing? Really! Methinks not.
Those "Spiriters" should have a read of Rabbi Kahana's article and maybe they'll learn what Chanukah is really all about.

Also from my "weird stuff" collection, take a gander at these innocent and naive Jerusalemites - totally oblivious as to what their bright red "Purim" costumes are.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aussie Echo - Alav Hashalom

Guest Post from Melbourne Chabadnik


Originally, we, especially Chabadniks, expected Aussie Echo to develop into a strong voice in the community. However, except for a few posts which got the crowd out and involved, it was pretty lame and simply served up material which it copied and pasted from other sites.

So, no great loss, but really a pity that it didn't bloom. Heaven knows that the Frum community neds every single 'voice' it can raise..

There is definitely room for another enterprising blogger to establish noisy and clear Shofar for the community. (I doubt that AJN Watch would have any objection.)

So where are all those chaps who have opinions on everything every Shabbos in Shul? Here's your chance to be heard on the other 6 days of the week.

Ruckus about professional Zionists assisting Yeridah

This item in the current edition of the AJN caught our eye.

And here is the original Haaretz article that triggered this scandal:

In reverse, ex-Zionist leader helping Israelis go Down Under
By Raphael Ahren - HAARETZ

Months after quitting her post as executive director of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Lorraine Abraham was in Israel last week in her new capacity as co-owner of a company assisting Israelis who wish to relocate to Australia.

"Have you ever thought of working or living in Australia? Now you can," reads an ad in Hebrew which Abraham's company, Ivan Chait & Associates, recently placed in Kav LaMoshav, the national newspaper of Israeli moshavim. "With more than 20 years experience in the field of immigration, we offer a complete immigration package including consultations, preparation of applications for temporary or permanent residence and work permits in Australia."

Abraham, who left her position at the ZFA in April, did not respond to several e-mails asking for comment.

The Melbourne-based ZFA states on its Web site that it officially represents Australian Jewry "in carrying out the goals and Zionism" and that it "aliyah is the highest ideal of Zionism."

ZFA President Philip Chester told Anglo File that Abraham's career choices are her prerogative and that his organization had no further comment. He did say the ad did not encourage people to leave Israel but merely offered assistance to those who had already decided to do so. "Lorraine and her husband are still very committed to Israel," said Chester, who is currently in Israel for his son's bar mitzvah. "I see them all the time and I can assure you that they are not bitter about Israel or Zionism."

Born and raised in South Africa, Abraham and her husband Simmy were staunch Zionists who immigrated in the early 1990s, according to a professional in the immigration field who has known them a long time. The Abrahams lived in Ra'anana, where they had four children and Simmy owned a real estate company. After about 10 years, Simmy sold his business and the family moved to Melbourne.

"Simmy got up one morning and said: I had enough of the fighting, of the pushing around here. I need some quiet," the immigration worker said. "Then Lorraine became the director of the ZFA [in Melbourne], which I thought was a very strange choice, but whatever, she's a Zionist, perhaps she can get some people to move here. But that she's now using the connections she made in Israel and Australia to help people make yeridah [emigrate from Israel], that is really more than ironic."

Lorraine is not the only emigre who served as ZFA executive director. Her predecessor Haya Mond held the post for 15 years, until 2002, after having left Israel. Robbie Franco, the ZFA's current executive director, had made aliyah from South Africa before he moved to New Zealand and then Australia.

"It may look like [the ZFA is] trying to recruit people who have left Israel and that we're trying to make some statement, but that's not the case," Chester asserted, adding that his organization's leaders are simply the best people for the job. "These are all people who still love Israel but for whatever reason their life changed and they made a decision to leave. The truth is: We live in a global village and people move," Chester continued. "The idea of stigmatizing someone because they leave Israel is not really part of the Zionist approach anymore."

And from the Haaretz comments section:

You can be an armchair Zionist and a observant Jew but many English speakers such as Lorraine Abrahams the former Australian Zionist Director who made yerida have the same experience about residing in Israel. Why does not the President of Z.F.A make aliyah instead of a two week junket for his sons bar mitzvah? It's only the heroes and masochists that need to face the oppressive Levantine mentality inherent here.

And from the Glen Eira Council Annual Report (for 2004-5):

The Abraham family were among 117 people to become citizens in a ceremony in February 2005. Simon and Lorraine Abraham and their four children moved from Israel to Australia
three years ago because they saw it as a place of opportunity and congenial community life.
“We have family all over the world but chose Australia as our home because of the friendly people and access to public services,” Lorraine said.
“This is our home now and we love living in Glen Eira because of its open space and community feel and our children love the sports that are available to them.”

Reminds us of that well-known statement by David Ben Gurion: "I prefer the Neturei Karta who live in Jerusalem to the Zionists who stay in Los Angeles..."



“It is time that the COSV raised its profile and took its rightful place in the Community as a strong and effective
voice of modern Orthodox Judaism” stated incoming President Paul Korbl, elected at the Annual General Meeting held last Monday evening at Kew Hebrew Congregation.
“The Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, Paul noted in his acceptance address,does some very good work in the Community much of which goes unnoticed and is taken for granted including management and supervision of the Melbourne Eruv, funding the operation of the Melbourne Beth Din, running subsidised Hebrew Reading Programs, the annual Scholar in Residence Program, and the hosting of Communal Prayer events commemorating Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim”.
Paul noted that Melbourne can now boast supporting over 40 mainstream and satellite
Synagogues and looks forward to the challenge of providing the necessary facilities and infrastructure required by the Orthodox Community in the forthcoming year..... The meeting also heard from guest speaker Mr Philip Chester, President of the Zionist
Federation of Australia who spoke about the issues currently facing Israel and the need for Shules to support Israel by encouraging visits.....

First of all, a word of thanks AJNWatch for establishing this new forum which allows us to comments on happenings in our city. I don’t know where else I could or would have felt comfortable writing these words. Aside from that, it is good to read a local critical POV on what goes on in our shtetteleh.

Paul Korbl is a good bloke – but absolutely full of it. The COSV is an organization that has done very little to improve matters for synagogues or orthodox Judaism. Very little. As for innovation…nix, zilch, nada.

Let’s have a look at Paul’s claims – one-by-one…

Eruv? It was established by the Mizrachi, who would have been quite happy to have continued managing it (and the kudos). The mashgichim are mostly from Beth Hatalmud and Adass – neither members of the COSV. The senior rav hamachshir is Rabbi Beck – whose shul is a non-member.

Beth Din? It was there before COSV took it over who actually couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. And as with the Eruv, Rabbi Sholem Gutnick and Caulfield Shul would’ve had no problem to continue operating it. Gutnick too, could’ve appointed the very same rabbis that COSV did (including his nephew and other Chabadniks). Besides possibly some transparency into its affairs - nothing earth-shattering deserving loud cheers.

Hebrew Reading Programs and Scholar in Residence? Really BIG deal, No? Paul, why not check out even the tiniest Chabad House in town? They do all this with at least as much success as the COSV without the need for ‘raised profiling’. And not only Chabad, but most of the new “shteebels” and outreach groups that we now have, engage in this activity in far bigger numbers.

Communal Prayer for YH and YY? These events are Mizrachi Shul stuff and always were. Nearly all attendees have Mizrachi or Mizrachi-like allegiances. Why do you think it was and is usually held in Mizrachi? Because no one else is interested! The so-called “mainstream Orthodox” shuls of your membership have enough trouble shlepping in the punters on a regular Shabos and Yom Tov. While the ‘frum’ ones are not interested. That leaves only Mizrachi and that is why it stays in Mizrachi – with or without “COSV hosting”.

Talking of which, maybe you don’t know, but your predecessor sure did, that these recently (post-Israel independence) invented celebrations were not approved nor accepted by the Lubavitcher rebbe zt’l and his Chassidim. (Let alone the rest of the Charedi/Chassidic world). So the question is, should a Orthodox Synagogue Council which aims to represent the entire community, be hosting this? Debatable. I personally don’t think so. But you do, and see that you also claim to be the “voice of MODERN Orthodox Judaism”. Is that what COSV was under the Trebish regime? I can’t recall.
But having giveng yourself the MO tag, don’t be surprised when true Chabad shuls as well as the entire spectrum of Charedi communities in Melbourne will continue to shun your organization.

Seeing that you Paul are all revved up to and demanding to have your voice heard, why not take over one of the campaigns of our host - AJN Watch. (I am sure that they won’t mind.)
Get stuck into the Jewish News. Never have I heard (at least since the retirement of Rabbi Zaichyk) the COSV or any of your members Shuls or their rabbis publicly speaking about the continuous advertising of Treif establishments and products. Even Chometz on Pesach. Shouldn’t it be the COSV who is campaigning hard against this? (Yes, I realise that the RCV too should be doing their part, but just because they fail doesn’t mean that you too should be sitting there quietly accepting the status-quo. Raise your profile? Sure. You can do that by raising your voice.

I look forward following the achievements of the Korbl regime.

How Sad. Excluded by Ovdei Avodah Zara!

The REAL disappointment and shame is that some representatives of Orthodox Jewry (and of course a couple of far-far-left Israeli rabbis) couldn't resist the temptation of squeezing themselves into this gathering of Avodah Zara.

Rabbis and lay-leaders, you still have plenty of work in your own communities before trying to sermonise and offer "blessings" to heathens. Remember the lessons of Baal Peor!

Can you spot the odd man out?

Merry Xmas - from the JNF and your Blue Box

(Hat tip - Anonymous)

JNF funds Christmas tree distribution in J'lem

Abe Selig , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 16, 2009

In an effort to spread some holiday cheer, the Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday announced that it would be distributing free Christmas trees to the capital's Christian residents in front of the Old City's Jaffa Gate on the morning of Christmas Eve.

The distribution will take place from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. next Wednesday, and 100 Christmas trees will be handed out.

According to the municipality, the trees are supplied by the Jewish National Fund, which owns large swaths of forest-land across the country.

A JNF spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that while the JNF gives out large numbers of trees to all of the country's municipalities for Tu Bishvat celebrations in January, the Jerusalem Municipality was purchasing a special type of tree - the tops of pines - for NIS 70 each.

"These are the tops of trees that look very much like Christmas trees," the spokeswoman said. "They're small - between 40 and 50 centimeters tall - and grow back on their own every two years."

In response, a municipality spokesman said, "Just like the municipality pays for hundreds of menoras to go up all over the city during Hanukka, and just like we assist with preparations for Ramadan, we also distribute Christmas trees."

There are people of faith from the world's three major religions living in the city, and we respect them all and want them to enjoy their respective holidays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AJN: "Jewish students score top marks" - At what cost?


Jewish students score top marks
STUDENTS at Melbourne’s Jewish schools have again finished in the top one per cent of the state, according to VCE results released this week. At least two pupils at each Jewish school received marks over 99, with one or more students at all schools attaining perfect study scores. Two Bialik College students, Ian Metz and Benjamin Poyer, gained the highest ENTER scores among pupils at Jewish schools of 99.9, along with Leibler Yavneh College’s Tal Ellinson (99.9). At Bialik College, 11 students scored in the top percentile of the state, with a further 37 receiving marks above 95, and almost 64 per cent attaining scores above 90.
At Mount Scopus Memorial College, three students shared top honours — Karen Freilich, Joshua Ludski and Michael Thurin scored 99.85. Seventeen per cent of the 128 graduating students at Mount Scopus received marks above 99. A further 51 per cent scored above 95, and 68 per cent above 90.
At Leibler Yavneh College, where 41 pupils graduated, and Beth Rivkah Ladies College, where 45 students completed VCE, more than half of both classes scored above 90, with 10 per cent at both schools ranked in the top one per cent. The top student at Beth Rivkah was Bina Perelman with 99.85. Ryan Dean was the top student at The King David School with a score of 99.7. The school also recorded top results, with six per cent of its 52 VCE graduates scoring above 99 and 46 per cent, or 24 students, receiving marks above 90. Yakir Landau topped Yeshivah College with 99.6, helping the college gain its best results ever with nine out of 15 students scoring more than 90, with two in the class, or 13 per cent, receiving marks over 99. In NSW, two Moriah College students were awarded first place in HSC courses.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Our smart little Yiddishe kops. Our future Nobel Prize winners. Makes your heart swell with pride, right?

Think again. How much are these ‘top’ marks costing our community? How much do our student’s parent shvitz to put together the astronomical amounts of money needed to ensure that their little princes and princesses can have their ear-to-ear-grins featured on the front page of the Jewish News?

The annual year-12 bill for a Jewish school is around $23,000 (plus extras of course). Obviously our school’s teaching standards are nowhere near as good as the AJN implies.
Who sez? I dod. And so will you, if you take a quick survey of family and friends. You will quickly learn that nearly all Jewish VCE students (at least those with high marks) have had hours upon hours of expensive private tutoring. If our schools are truly that great, why is this needed?
Do those country state school kids coming in with great scores have private tutoring? Of course not! Their families can hardly pay for the shoes that they are wearing let alone luxuries like tutoring. What they do have are disciplined and studious pupils and dedicated and focused teachers. And obviously the country kids have far less unnecessary diversions and extra-curricular activities than members of our young ‘royalty’.

According to tutors can charge $40-$60 per hour. Of course, many in our community will demand only “the best” and pay far, far more.

Thus the total bill for a year-12 student can easily top $40,000 !! That’s tax-paid dollars. Meaning that parents have to earn approx $65-70,000 – just for that one child’s single-year education!!! Now, what if they have several children? What are they supposed to do? Go out and rob a bank? Have we gone completely mad? Think about it.

Time for our schools to have a good long look at themselves and question if they are giving the community value for money.

Down With Chanukah !!! By Rabbi Meir Kahane

Rabbi Meir Kahane:

Down With Chanukah !!!

If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for himself the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government's ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against that most dangerous of all Jewish holidays - Hanukah.

It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the "Feast of Lights," and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie.

For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the masses of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected - it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked - it is this one. If there is any holiday that is more "un-Jewish" in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices - I do not know of it.

The Hanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud is not the Hanukah of reality. The Hanukah that came into vogue because Jewish parents - in their vapidness needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of "we-have-lights-just-as-our- goyisha-neighbors" and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Hanukah that the Temple, under its captive Rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Hanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me- liberty-or-death and that pictures the Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue to fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.

This is not the Hanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and Spain and Babylon.

It is surely not the Hanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died. Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return and see what Hanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt.

For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the real reason, for the revolt of the Jews "in those days in our times."

What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago? What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And precisely who was the enemy? What were they fighting for and who were they fighting against?

For years the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise in revolt. It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashrut, to obey the laws of the Torah. In a world where everything about Hanukah that we commemorate, and teach our children to commemorate, are things we consider to be outmoded, medieval and childish!

At best, then, those who fought and died for Hanukah were naive and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did, for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist, and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?) Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives.

No, at best Hanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well meaning chaps all - but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.

But there is more. Not only is Hanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was not a Greek. He was a Jew.
When the enemy sent his troops into Modin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus. (After all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshiped?) And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous, (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him) Mattathias, as he shouted: "Whoever is for G-d, follow me!"

What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious Ha'shomer Ha'tzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal, open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalist (if not Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for Shimon Peres (he who rejects the 'Galut' and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with force? Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all) un- Jewish, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and "descended to the level of 'evil'" thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.

Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate? Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children? Where shall we find the man of courage, the lone voice in the wilderness to cry out against Hanukah and the Judaism that it represents - the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors?

Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the Law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy? When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Hanukah so ignobly represents?

Down with Hanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real. Such a Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders. We must do all in our power to bury it.

Boston Globe columnist explains Chanuka

The triumph of Chanukah
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe

BECAUSE CHANUKAH usually occurs in December, it is sometimes thought of as the "Jewish Christmas." It isn't, of course. And yet it is fair to say that the reason for Chanukah's popularity -- especially in America, where it is the most widely observed Jewish holiday after Passover and Yom Kippur -- is precisely its proximity to Christmas.
Chanukah used to be regarded as a minor half-holiday, cheerful but low-key. It has become something bigger and brighter in response to Christmas, which transforms each December into a brilliant winter festival of parties, decorations, and music. Attracted by the joy of the season, not wanting their children to feel left out of all the merriment and gift-giving, American Jews in the 20th century began to make much more of Chanukah than their grandparents ever had. Today Chanukah is well established as part of the annual "holiday season," complete with parties, decorations, and music of its own. Its enhanced status is a tribute both to the assimilating tug of America's majority culture and to the remarkable openness of that culture to Jewish customs and belief.
Ironically, Chanukah was established to commemorate the very opposite of cultural assimilation. It dates back nearly 22 centuries, to the successful Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV, one of the line of Syrian-Greek monarchs who ruled the northern branch of Alexander the Great's collapsed empire. Alexander had been respectful of the Jews' monotheistic religion, but Antiochus was determined to impose Hellenism, with its pagan gods and its cult of the body, throughout his domains. When he met resistance in Judea, he made Judaism illegal.
Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the study of Torah were banned on pain of death. A statue of Zeus was installed in the Temple in Jerusalem, and swine were sacrificed before it. Some Jews embraced the new order and willingly abandoned the God and faith of their ancestors. Those who wouldn't were cruelly punished. Ancient writings tell the story of Hannah and her seven sons, who were captured by Antiochus's troops and commanded to bow to an idol. One by one, each boy refused -- and was tortured to death before his mother's eyes.
The fight to reclaim Jewish religious autonomy began in 167 BCE. In the town of Modi'in, an elderly priest named Mattathias refused a Syrian order to sacrifice to an idol. When an apostate Jew stepped forward to comply, Mattathias killed the man and tore down the altar. Then he and his five sons took to the hills and launched a guerrilla war against the armies of the empire.
When Mattathias died, his third son, Judah Maccabee, took command. He and his band of fighters were impossibly outnumbered, yet they won one miraculous victory after another. In 164 BCE, they recaptured the desecrated Temple, which they cleansed and purified and rededicated to God. On the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, the menorah -- the candelabra symbolizing the divine presence -- was rekindled. For eight days, throngs of Jews celebrated the Temple's restoration. "All the people prostrated themselves," records the book of Maccabees, "worshipping and praising Heaven that their cause had prospered."
In truth, though, their cause hadn't prospered -- not yet. The fighting went on for years. It was not until 142 BCE -- more than two decades later -- that the Jews finally regained control of their land. Geopolitically, that was the moment of real triumph.
But Chanukah isn't about political power. It isn't about military victory. It isn't even about freedom of worship, notwithstanding the fact that the revolt of the Maccabees marks the first time in history that a people rose up to fight religious persecution.
What Chanukah commemorates at heart is the Jewish yearning for God, for the concentrated holiness of the Temple and its service. The defeat of the Syrian-Greeks was a wonder, but the spiritual climax of the Maccabees' rebellion occurred when the menorah was rekindled and God's presence among His people could be felt once again.
Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday not found in the Hebrew Bible and the only one rooted in a military campaign. And yet its focus is almost entirely spiritual, not physical. For example, there is no feast associated with Chanukah, the way there is with Passover and Purim, the two other Jewish festivals of deliverance. Its religious observance is concentrated on flame, nothing more. And the menorah's lights may only be gazed at; it is forbidden to use them for any physical purpose -- not even to read by.
The lack of a physical side to Chanukah is unusual but appropriate. For the Maccabees' war against the Hellenists was ultimately a war against a worldview that elevated the physical above all, that venerated beauty, not holiness; the body, not the soul. The Jews fought to preserve a different view of the world -- one with God, not man, at its center.
Had they failed, Judaism would have died. Because they triumphed, the Jewish religion survived. And from it, two centuries later, Christianity was born.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CSG Advert – What the?

Further to the above-captioned piece in Galus Australis re the CSG [ ], an English reader has forwarded to us the following cutting from the London Jewish Tribune talking about that city's Jewish security group known there as the CST.

It seems that problems associated with these types of outfits are universal.

This got us wondering if there any rabbinical approval or advice sought by or given to the CSG? Knowing that they are following halachic rulins would do much to pacify those who find it quite galling seeing Jewish youngsters outside Shuls - often blatantly being mechalel Shabbat.

We gleaned another similarity between Melbourne and London from that JT article, ie, that these boychiks (and girlchiks) don't service purely Charedi areas. Just like they are not seen
outside Adass, Beth Talmud, Heichal Hatorah, Gerrer Shtiebel, Merkaz Hatorah, neither do they operate in London's Stamford Hill district.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time to get the Hamodia to Perth!

From the Jewgle Perth blog:

Jewish Media

It gives me no pleasure in opining that, as much as the Jewish community needs a strong medium of communication, we sadly do not have a paper that is up to the task. Our local Jewish newspaper falls short of filling its role as a newspaper, a chronicle of history, and a medium for exchanging viewpoints. It does not drive topics of discussion or promote an agenda for the community. It does not produce its own news (locally, it waits for news to find them, and elsewhere it just reproduces the news of other publications.) It does not critically or independently investigate communal activity. The paper provides no editorial stance, nor any accountability to the community. It has been exposed by this blog for plagiarism yet failed to even acknowledge that fundamental journalistic ethics were compromised. We have a paper that delievers photos and messages of congratulation to Jews who marry out, carries advertisements for non-kosher establishments, contains articles that misrepresent Jewish values, and completely omits news coverage of a huge amount of activity that takes place in our community on a daily and weekly basis. Unfortunately the Maccabean does not reflect the values, activities or the potential of all that the Perth Jewish community represents.

There are no alternatives to the Maccabean.

As far as the Australian Jewish News is concerned, Perth hardly exists. The AJN is also a paper that does little to foster the distinguishing values that are centrally important to Jewish communal life. Its focus, unlike the Maccabean, is commercial, which, while lowering the level of expectation, does not excuse it from its role of publically representing matters of importance to Australian Jewry.

AJN report: "New Chief Rabbi for Victoria"

Guest Post from a Victorian Rabbi:

Like others in the community, I too was surprised to see that front page banner in last week’s Jewish News telling us the earth-shattering news about our new Chief Rabbi.

Of course, when turning to page 13, we soon realised that this was another AJN beat-up in their usual cavalier and careless editorial approach. New boy Zeddy obviously has yet to make any impact towards creating a believable and responsible newspaper out of this rag.

Having attended the reported AGM, I must say that I was quite disappointed that a prominent and long-serving member of Melbourne’s rabbinate, Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn was so easily defeated for the position of president by a relatively inexperienced youngster. (I have no doubt that Rabbi Glasman will eventually emerge as a respected rabbinical figure, but at age 30, the presidency is a bit premature.

Of course Rabbi Heilbrunn didn’t have a hope, seeing that the majority of RCV members are Chabadniks and they weren’t going to allow an “outsider’ have the top job. We knew this all along. By standing and losing, simply Rabbi Heilbrunn proved it again.

It was extremely “charitable” of them to allow Rabbi Ralph Genende win the consolation of vice-president. They and we all know how little that means. After all, ask anyone who the previous vice-president was and you’ll get blank stare. That position means nothing and does less than nothing.

Despite all I this, I personally think that Glasman is a ‘good bloke’ and will hopefully do our community proud. I wish him all the best.

A few comments on the published remarks of the outgoing president Rabbi Kluwgant:
“We are the envy of rabbinical associations across the world...”

Please, MS, don’t exaggerate. There are dozens of cities in the US where there are far more successful and productive rabbinical groups than our RCV. And have you been reading about the achievements of European rabbis groups? If not, check it out.

As to your comment: “That killed me” (regarding the so-called abuse claim in the community); as far as the average person is concerned that was a joint AJN-RMSK campaign against a non-member which eventually came to nothing. I for one would not have mentioned it. (And even if I had, I would not have used the language like: “That killed me”.

Anyway thanks for your efforts – the $190,000 government funding is not to be sneezed at – and you can take life a bit easier now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Coat (Man) of Many Colours

What an eclectic bunch our friend Moshe the Coat Man has put together.
A Partisan, a Chazan and a couple of rabbis - Kennard and Groner.
And his latest comrade-in-arms, the well-known Gush Katif defender/protester and “Holocaust Survivor and Chossid of the Gerrer Rebbe” – Rabbi Mordechai Raz!.
(Is the Gerrer Rebbe really a “Settler” supporter?)

And all this happening in Mizrachi! (The Lamm Boardroom – no less.)

AJN Watch has other commitments that night, but hopefully we’ll get a full report of this momentous occasion in the AJN and the Hamodia (which carried a full-page version of the same ad).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A to Zeddy...

So the AJN’s latest recruit Zeddy Lawrence has arrived to take on the top job. Presumably he hopes to last longer than the numerous previous occupiers of that chair.

He has an unenviable task trying to increase circulation figures or at least put a stop the ongoing loss of circulation and try to ensure that the paper at least breaks even. The other unpalatable option is for the AJN to continue being a money-losing plaything for one rich Jew after the other.
Who can blame the previous AJN proprietors, who, after having a bit of fun, were relieved to find another ‘sucker’ upon whom to dump a financially (and otherwise) rapidly diminishing asset? All the recent business moguls with delusions of being mini-press barons quickly lost interest. The Kleins, Pratts nor the Adlers. Current owner, property developer Robert Magid will no doubt get sick of holding on to an a money-losing asset.
(But let’s not forget one obvious advantage enjoyed by some of the previous proprietors. Ie, ensuring that despite the efforts of the general media, the AJN carried no reports about certain financial and personal unpleasantness regarding themselves, their friends and/or family members. That must’ve been worth SOMETHING.)
So Zeddy, you have your work cut out for you.

Here’s some advice. Have a good look at who your demographics are. Who in the Jewish community is interested in a Jewish newspaper?

It definitely isn’t those who have lost most of their connections with Jewish values and traditions. There is very little future for the AJN in the reform/progressive/liberal sector. After all many (most?) are probably not halachically Jewish and even less so their children. As for the ‘mainstream’ orthodox, some are probably interested in reading a decent Jewish newspaper. But you will soon come to realise that the future of Jewry in Australia comes from the members of the 'traditionalists’, the modern Orthodox, the Charedim and Chassidim and the hundreds of Baalei Teshuva.
Cater to their needs and the AJN has a chance of survival. Antagonize or ignore them at your own peril.

Zeddy, you may not have heard, but the newspaper Hamodia – whose British edition sells thousands of copies weekly – has also been available locally for the past couple of years. It has built up an fiercely loyal readership of several thousand people who are prepared to pay $6 a week for the pleasure. For this they get 4-5 times as much reading material as in the Jewish News including dozens of pages of world, Jewish and communal news and features. Compare that to the few pages of cut-and-paste stuff served up to the readers of the AJN (most of which they have long ago seen on the net).
Is it any surprise thatyour newspaper is generally considered to have the status of the weekly free suburban throwaways?

The ONLY thing going for the AJN are the “hatches, matches and dispatches” notices. But even that too has changed since the advent of community e-mail news services by a number of Melbourne and Sydney congregations. Their information is available immediately as it happens, rather than waiting until Thursday.
To add to the AJN’s misery, there is a persistent rumor that some enterprising chaps are planning a free email service listing all life-cycle events culled from the Melbourne and Sydney editions of the AJN. No doubt many would avail themselves to this service and pocket a saving of $3.50 per week.

So good-luck Zeddy. You sure need it.

JNF again: 3000 Trees for Palestinians!!!

So now you know where your Blue Box contributions go to
Palestinians and Xmas trees!
Definitely time to increase our donations....

JNF Donates 3,000 Trees to Palestinian Authority
Kislev 13, 5770, 30 November 09 09:28

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu(

A member of the board of the Jewish National Fund said “the system has gone haywire” after hearing reports that the venerable Zionist organization is donating 3,000 trees to the Palestinian Authority for a new city near Ramallah.

Maaleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who also is a member of the JNF board, told Arutz 7 Monday morning he will bring up the issue with the JNF, which is considered a symbol of Zionism, particularly in the Diaspora where Jews have donated billions of dollars for planting trees and building the modern Jewish State.

Kashriel said the contribution to the PA is a grave step that was taken without any request for approval and without advance notice and reflects a “system that has gone haywire.”

The mayor of Maaleh Adumim, which along with the rest of Judea and Samaria has been slapped with a freeze on new construction with the threat of arrest for breaking the ban, said, “The country has gone crazy when it plants trees for the PA in Judea and Samaria at the same time that it forbids Jews to build. The system does not know who it is representing – us, the Palestinian Authority or the Americans?”

Concerning the government’s building freeze policy, Mayor Kashriel said he is “ashamed” of the government’s move, which he said are more drastic than those taken during the years of negotiations under the Oslo Accords that blew up into the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, nine years ago.

“As chairman of the local Likud faction, I am ashamed seven times over,” he said. “Even during Oslo we did not receive letters that remove our authority and turn us into criminals.” He also echoed sentiments of other leaders in Judea and Samaria to continue building despite the orders to halt new construction.

Kashriel said regional leaders will appeal to the High Court to overturn the building freeze, which he said violates the rights of residents of Judea and Samaria. He also has proposed that regional leaders stage a strike opposite the offices of Prime Minister Netanyahu

Monday, November 23, 2009

Arutz Sheva report: JNF Rejects Shabbat-Observing Job Applicant

A letter from Israel:

Hello AJN Watch blog.

I have only recently become aware of your blog and must say that I enjoy the posts and comments.
Reading your post about the JNF,
I was surprised that you did not publish the article from the Israeli media about the JNF refusing to hire a job applicant because he wasn’t prepared to work for them on the Shabbat. Had such a disgraceful thing happened in the US, Jewish groups would be falling over each other to launch discrimination charges in the courts. But in our Jewish homeland, a Shabbat-observer can be refused a position in no less than an Israeli organization that is supported by worldwide Jewry including countless Shabbat-observers who would be outraged to learn about this.

Chana B.

JNF Rejects Job Applicant Due to Sabbath Observance
by Hana Levi Julian

( The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet L'Israel) rejected a job applicant on the basis of her observance of Jewish law, it was revealed Thursday.
The applicant, known in the case as "Liron" (a pseudonym), was sent by an agency to interview for a job as an assistant to spokeswoman Orit Hadad, but was turned down flat because she would not work on Saturday. "She immediately told me that she was sorry but could not hire me," said the Orthodox Jewess in an interview with Yediot Achronot.

The JNF spokeswoman explained that she had asked the manpower agency from the beginning to send her someone who could work on Shabbat (the Sabbath).

"The JNF spokesperson's office is extremely busy, especially on Saturdays, because we often organize weekend nature trips," she said. "I have another assistant who works only during the week and so I especially need help on the weekends."

The 34-year-old "Liron" said she could not believe "this happened in a government institution that strives to represent the Jewish people."

The JNF spokeswoman, however, seemed unconcerned. "I really don't see what the fuss is about," she commented.

Shas party chairman and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai was more than willing to express his view of the fuss. "This is a harsh and shameful occurrence," he declared, "especially since the JNF is an institution that supposedly showcases the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

Yishai, also a Deputy Prime Minister, said he would take steps to put a halt to the practice.
"I will not stand by and allow this to happen in a government institution, both from a religious as well as a human rights perspective," he promised. "As soon as a formal complaint is made I will give it my undivided attention."

Hadad defended the practice, claiming that she herself came from a religious background and that "this was not about discrimination." She added that the applicant was not hired for other reasons as well. "[Her] inability to work on Shabbat was only one factor in my decision."

The law does not support Hadad's action – nor does it support the agency's practice of employing Jews to work on Shabbat. The "Work Hours and Rest Law" requires a special permit for employers to hire Jews to work on Shabbat. The JNF never applied for, nor did it ever receive a permit, according to Yediot Achronot, which reported that "such a permit was never issued for any spokesperson or assistant spokesperson in any Israeli government institution."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"A grave and monumental error"

"This is indeed a grave and monumental error."

(Observation by Rabbi Chaim Ingram re the misprint in advertisement published in the London Jewish Tribune.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vox Pop suggestion for the AJN

We are again mightily impressed with the Jewish News' concerns for Kashrut. And that is why we make the suggestion that for a future Vox Pop they ask members of the community about their views regarding the nation's "Jewish" newspaper advertising and publicising Treif establishments and products.

How about it?

Rabbis "respectfully" request Kosher functions

Looks like the letters of Mr David Ainsworth and Rabbi Chaim Ingram (published here on AJN Watch) have Baruch Hashem awakened Australia's rabbinical establishment from their slumber. And not a moment too early. Better late than never…

But we are not convinced that “appealing respectfully” to local Jewish organizations to make their affairs “kosher-only” will do the job. Rabbis, rabbinical organizations, orthodox shuls and of course our Kashrut organizations must become far more outspoken and forceful by taking a hard line against any group that hosts treif functions. This is the only way that they will achieve the aim.

There is absolutely no reason for any organization not to use the services of one of the many excellent and reputable Kosher caterers that we have. They offer high-class food and prices that are close enough to what is charged by treif food vendors. (Not that price should in any way be the deciding factor.)

Another very important sector whose voice should be raised in protests are the wealthy frum Jews of our communities. There are dozens of such families in Melbourne and Sydney and they have a duty to use their influence (and money) for this holy endeavor. They are regularly invited to attend communal functions where, if they are lucky, the organizers are “kind enough” to supply them with “special Kosher meals” - as if they were airline passengers.

These financially fortunate people should clearly assert themselves and take a firm hard line by notifying all organizations that they will refuse to attend any event where treif food is served.

So over to you our “ashirim”. Hashem has been good to you. Now it’s pay-back time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More on the treife Gala Luncheon arranged by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange

AJN Watch has been forwarded a letter sent by Rabbi Chaim Ingram, the Honorary Secretary of the Rabbinical Council of NSW to all members of that organization.
Rabbi Ingram is again to be applauded for his uncompromising approach and dedication to Torah values. Halevai, we had more such outspoken and fearless rabbanim.

Dear Chaverim,

Many of you may have received an invitation for an Gala Luncheon under the auspices of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange Ltd which is taking place at The Westin in Martin Place, Sydney on Thurs 3rd Dec.

Having already been tipped off that treife food was to be served at this event, I rang the RSVP number and spoke to someone by the name of Sarah (not Jewish). Feigning ignorance, I inquired whether the event was kosher. Her response was "no but we can see what we can do about arranging kosher food for you". I said that will not be necessary as I could not in all conscience attend a function such as this where non-kosher food was being served and consumed. Her response, interestingly, was to say "we have had a couple of similar responses along those lines (good!) and, having now received yours, I will ask Melinda (the RSVP addressee) to contact the organisers to register these comments.

May I respectfully urge all chaverim who have received an invitation to this event to respond, preferably by phoning the RSVP number 9389-8988, on similar lines. Even if you have not received an invitation, you may be moved to ring that number and object that a (nominally at least) Jewish organisation is holding a public treife function. Maybe the organisers will start to get the message.

BeVirkat Kol Tuv

Kol Tuv
Rabbi Chaim Ingram
Honorary Secretary

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thank you to letter-writers

Orthodox communal identity Mr David Ainsworth is well known in Sydney for his unbending dedication and fealty to Torah and Mitzvot. He is also known as a person who does not to meekly bend to or tolerate violations of Halacha. He shows this by fearlessly protesting and objecting to communal infringements of Halacha. AJN Watch has been sent a reply he recent addressed to Albert Dadon's invitation to a gala luncheon for the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum where treif food is on the menu.
If more members of the community, especially rabbis and lay-leaders, would emulate Mr Ainsworth’s uncompromising attitude, the standards of Yiddishkeit in this country would increase dramatically.

And here is a letter to the AJN editor, which reiterates our long-standing criticism of the AJN’s resident page-2 smut-peddler Adrian Kamien.

Maybe its time for more Rebbetzen’s should join the campaign to cleanse that newspaper of its filth.)

And another published letter reflecting our recent comments re AJN’s hypocritical Kashrut concerns.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Talking about Kashrut in Sydney...

Sydney kosher kitchen goes halal
October 15, 2009

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A Lubavitch-run kosher community kitchen gained halal certification.
Our Big Kitchen in Sydney, run by the Yeshiva Center, received halal certification Wednesday night in the presence of New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees, who learned to make challah during his visit.
The kitchen has been used to help feed those in need, as well as for emergency service.
“It is fantastic to see people of all faiths working together to further the important charitable work of Our Big Kitchen,” said Rabbi Eli Feldman of Sydney's Young Chabad. “With both kosher and halal certification, Our Big Kitchen can service all segments of the Australian community."
Halal is the Muslim designation for food that is permissible to eat. Sophie Abuta, a Palestinian Australian whose husband donated all the tiles for the kitchen, said she hoped the kitchen would help Jews and Palestinians “cook our way to peace.”Ikebal Patel, the chairman of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, was also in attendance along with Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, the spiritual leader of Chabad in New South Wales, and the heads of the kashrut and halal certification boards.
The kitchen was founded by Brooklyn-born Rabbi Dovid Slavin in 2007 and has been visited by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Governor-General Quentin Bryce and numerous other dignitaries.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest Post by Kosherman: A Concise History of Kashrut in Post-War Australia

The following post was submitted by "Kosherman" as a l-o-n-g comment to our post Australian Kosher News or Australian Treif News?

"Kosherman" seems to have more than average knowledge about the workings and recent history of Kashrut in Melbourne and Sydney. He has taken the time to give us so many interesting and unknown facts on this important topic that we feel it deserves a post of its own. Therefore we asked and received his permission to publish it as a Guest Post. (With the approval of the author, we have edited and made a few changes to parts of this post for clarity etc.)

We shall be more than happy to receive further information and comments from readers who have familiarity with the subject matter.

To introduce myself, I am a lifelong Kosher consumer who has resided in both Melbourne and Sydney and have for personal, communal and business reasons ‘stuck my nose’ into Kashrut matters.

My aim, one of these days, is to establish a blog specialising in all aspects of Kashrut in Australia. There is much to be recorded, believe me.

Often discussed is the cost of Kosher products, including meat and poultry, and why these are so much higher in Sydney than in Melbourne. It is no secret that caterers in Sydney pay more for supervision charges than those in Melbourne. While I can accept that certain Sydney Simcha Kashrut standards may be somewhat more stringent than Melbourne, the difference in charges seems extreme.

The KA website states:
Function Charges

Functions up to $19.99 catering charge per guest - KA charge $1.20 per guest
Functions from $20.00 to $69.99 catering charge per guest - KA charge $4.27 per guest
Functions $70.00 and over catering charge per guest - KA charge $6.60 per guest
Kiddush - KA charge $180.20 flat fee

(I understand that there is also be an additional fee to pay for the Mashgiach/Shomer.) The above indicates that having catered Simcha in Sydney could cost an extra 10% for supervision.

In Melbourne as far as I can ascertain the fees are substantially lower. However for some reason Melbourne’s Kashrut authorities are not as open as the NSW KA and do not publicly state there charges. (If anyone knows, I would like to hear what these charges are.)

The reason why Melbourne’s fees are lower is obvious. Melbourne has more than the one single Kashrut authority. Competition is GREAT for us consumers. Does anyone doubt that if Kosher Australia or Adass didn’t have concerns about each other (and to some extent, Rabbi Meir Rabi’s “Kosher veYosher”), they too would consider higher charges?

The same goes for meat. Because Melbourne has 3 Kosher meat suppliers/hashgachot, the consumer benefits - by each one keeping the others honest. Interestingly,I hear that dozens of Sydney families purchase their meat from Unfanger in Melbourne. Why? Obviously his quality is excellent, but how much better than the Sydney butchers? The reason obviously has to do with price. For a large family, a few dollars per kilo adds up quite quickly and can make a huge difference in the budget.

Thus, the answer to the AJN’s recent Vox Pop question on whether we should have a single Kashrut authority in Australia must be a thunderous NO!. In fact consumers would be better off if there was even more Kashrut “competition” in all cities.

But to give credit where it is due, the NSW KA publishes a Directory which I recall is very reasonably priced ($10 or $20). But even better, their entire directory is available on-line – free of charge. That is definitely a great boost for Kosher consumers on tight budgets. It also comes handy when people travel on holidays and forget to bring along the directory. Just hop on-line and get all the info you need. A valuable resource which we should all save in our Bookmarks.,com_kosherdb/Itemid,60

Melbourne’s Kosher Australia, who charge $55 for their directory (the most expensive such booklet on the planet?) could learn from their Sydney colleagues.
(See: Renewal Blank 2009 Form.doc )

Here’s a potted (post-WW2) Kashrut history for the younger people reading this blog. Most of us oldies will have heard a lot of this.

Sydney originally had a Beth-Din-operated Shechita. (The BD also approved a few other products. Anyone remember McWilliam Wines?) A few additional items were produced under their label for Pesach use. This changed with the arrival of the “frum” Hungarians, ie, Sydney’s Adass community whose first rabbi, Rav Bernath, had been a Shochet in Budapest. They established an independent Shechita which I have been told even “exported” meat to discerning customers in Melbourne. (This was prior to the Melbourne Adass shechita being established.) Following the Adass/Yeshiva split, the Yeshiva too established a shechita, which went on for a number of years until, as I recall, both realised the stupidity of the double expenditure, and they joined forces, but still ‘competing’ with the Beth Din. Eventually it all became one and the Kashrut Authority came into being. These days, as we know, they are the only game in town.

Here's a differing POV - from the NSW KA website:

Why is there only one certification body in NSW?

Prior to the establishment of the KA (in 1990) there were numerous certification bodies in NSW. This was the cause of much angst and divisiveness within the community. People accepted only particular hechsherim, and so were unable to eat at each other’s tables and functions. The community together with the Rabbonim decided it was preferable to have a united body with a universally acceptable standard

In Melbourne, meanwhile, they had competing Batei Din/Shechita during and post-war years when Rav Gurevitz of Carlton established what was considered to be a higher Kashrut standard. However that didn’t last too long and the Melbourne Beth Din won the day. In the late 40s Melbourne’s Adass was established and they immediately brought out a shochet, the well-known Rev M S Rosenbaum. For a while they also had the services of Rav Betzalel Wilschansky. Old-timers tell me that most of the community’s “frum” newcomers and even a number of pre-war Carltoners - would only buy meat and poultry from one of the 4 (!!!) Adass supervised butchers and/or 2 poultry suppliers. Interestingly, for many years all were located on High Street (now St Kilda Road) St Kilda!

That was the situation until the 70s, when Chabad established a shop in Carlisle Street. That was followed by Solomons (who had previously sold poultry - under a different name - in Acland Street -supervised by the Melb BD) opening large modern premises in Glen Eira Road under the Mizrachi Kashrut. This shop eventually incorporated the Chabad butcher shop.

Some time later, Continental Butchers in Glenferrie Road which had been under the Melb BD (not a very popular Kashrut seal to most religious families) transfered to Mizrachi supervision. Allegedly this upset the owners of Solomons who promptly dropped the Mizrachi and asked the late Rabbi Groner z’’l to become their supervisor. By this time, Melbourne which used to have many Kosher butchers, was reduced to 3 – each under a different hashgacha. Pretty amazing in itself.

Meanwhile Mizrachi were growing in the Kashrut field and began producing their popular directory while at the same time promoting themselves as the Australia’s foremost authority (which they possibly are, though doubtful if the NSW KA agrees). To be more acceptable to the 'religious' community, as well as overseas Kashrut authorities with whom they liaise, they dropped the “Mizrachi” tag, as in many places this is seen as less than Mehadrin. They became “Melbourne Kosher” and at a later stage “Kosher Australia”. (I have heard speculation that when the name “Kosher Australia” was created, some were hoping to swallow Sydney as well… Of course that never eventuated. But I often wonder who was the Chelmer chacham who slipped up and so unoriginally replicated the NSW authority’s long-established “KA” label. 2 KA’s in our small Kosher consuming society! Definitely a bit strange. I was thinking, how it would be if the Adass Kashrut decided to call themselves “Kosher Adass” and also take on the “KA” initials… And then why not a “Kosher Adelaide” as well?)

Besides the Adass, Mizrachi had no real competitor. That is, until the arrival of Rabbi Mottel Gutnick from Sydney, who had for some time been in charge of that city’s Kashrut Authority gaining experience in the field. In addition to his position as rabbi in Doncaster, Rabbi Gutnick quickly established his own independent, or rather, private, label and was ‘in competition’ with Mizrachi. By that the time the Kashrut division of the Melbourne Beth Din (ie Rabbi M’s uncle, Rabbi Shulem Gutnick) was slowly expiring.

Some time later, Mizrachi, still hoping to become the undisputed authority in Melbourne, made Rabbi Mottel ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’. (This was despite bad feelings by some – not least of all their rabbi at the time, Rabbi Baruch Zaichyk , who found it difficult to forgive Rabbi Gutnick for his hurried approval of Glick’s bakery after it was thrust aside by Mizrachi. However the Mizrachi leadership calculated that the long term benefit of being in charge of Melbourne’s Kashrut made it worthwhile to forget that affair. Thus Rabbi Gutnick was placed at the helm of Mizrachi’s operation and into the deal delivered his collection of establishments. There was also the matter of Rabbi Yanki Barber of South Caulfield who also had a couple of shops under him. Mizrachi took care of him similarly - offering him a position and thus removing another competitor. It was said at the time that to attract more “Haredim”, Mizrachi hired Kollel Beth Hatalmud’s Rabbi Nachman Sofer - adding his name to their growing and impressive rabbinical inventory.

Meanwhile Rabbi Chaim Gutnick, continued to supervise Ungar catering on behalf of Elwood Shul (which after his passing transferred to Kosher Australia). The late Rabbi Rudzki also approved a number of caterers. (Those seem to have been taken over by Rabbi Meir Rabi.)

Adass Kashrut has also been around for yonks. In the early years it was only butchers and poultry shops, chalav yisrael, oil and a limited number of products. This has over the past couple of decades expanded to caterers, food producers and shops, as well as the checking out of major companies eg Kellogs, Fosters etc on behalf of local consumers and overseas authorities. It is generally accepted by most, that the Adass standard is the highest in Australia and the important overseas Haredi Kashrut groups such as the Edah Haredit in Jerusalem and Kedassia in London work hand-in-hand with their rabbis.

In the past months we have seen Adass drop a number of establishments - for whatever reasons. These were immediately snapped up by Kosher Australia. Thus, unless one insists on Adass kashrut, those establishments are still there for us consumers. Another advantage of multiple Kashrut authorities.

This is all I have time for right now, but I hope to return and offer further facts and thoughts on the continuing evolution of Kashrut in Australia. Please note that the chronology may not be 100% accurate. I welcome comments and especially corrections.

Friday, October 9, 2009

J-Wire or Gay-Wire ?

Is Henry Benjamin following the AJN - becoming obsessed with "gayness". Please Henry, most people don't give a Donald Duck about what this or any other person does in private. (Well, we sure hope that he only does it in private.)

J-Wire: Obama selects Jewish Gay Ambassador to NZOctober 9, 2009 by Henry Benjamin

A Jewish lawyer currently based in Shanghai has been selected by President Obama as the new U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.David Huebner is openly gay and is reported as being the general counsel for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Discrimination. If Huebner’s selection is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will become the third gay ambassador in U.S. history and will mark another notch in Obama’s election promise belt.
AJNWatch comment: Tells us a lot about Obama's priorities. G-d help America.

Head of the New Zealand Jewish Council Stephen Goodman told J-Wire: “If his election is approved we welcome him to New Zealand. Auckland has an openly gay reform rabbi who is American and has a New Zealander as a partner.”
AJNWatch comment: Goodman seems mighty proud of his "openly gay reform rabbi".Looks like he has nothing much else to show off about.
But really, big deal. Australia can top that. Our Reform claim to fame is a halachically-non-Jewish "rabbi" - or more correctly - "rabbiette"/"rabbi-ess".

Some may recall an interview with her some years ago in The Australian, where she proudly proclaimed that her non-Jewish mother never bothered to go through the motions of conversion - not even the super-lite Reform version.
"...I am dealing with being one of the first women rabbis in Sydney,” explains Jacqueline Ninio, 39, associate rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia; her father is Turkish-Egyptian, her mother is an Australian Jew-by-choice..."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Australian Kosher News or Australian Treif News?

The Australian Jewish News is again sermonising on Kashrut matters. The shameless promoter of Treif establishments and products to the Jewish community depicts itself as a friend and supporter of Kosher consumers. How righteous and frum of them!

Last week issue treated us to no less than a full poster front page, a news report and an editorial. Yes, the very same front page where for a few dollars any non-Kosher food purveyor may ply its wares! (Obviously the AJN couldn’t find a treif establishment prepared to pay last week.)

We doubt that most Jewish News readers ever read the editorials, but those who did were treated to some astonishing hypocrisy and two-facedness.
“The AJN isn’t afraid to discuss the fraught topic of Kashrut!”

Of course not. Rather it is the fraught topic of Jews marketing treif products to fellow Jews that they’re afraid to discuss. Like how they aid and abet in the destruction of the fabric of Judaism for the sake of a few dollars. Come on. Let’s see some fearless dialogue on this matter.

What a nerve. A newspaper that has no qualms with a advertising chazir-treif restaurants, Chametz on Pesach and Chilul Shabbat events, giving us opinions on Kashrut!
Their chutzpah was best described by a prominent Melbourne rabbi when he observed in his Yom Tov sermon: “The Jewish News offering advice on Kashrut matters is akin to the Islamic Weekly counselling our community about the merging of the UIA and the JNF appeals”.

And the claim about the paper’s support for Kosher catering through their Kosher Living, Wedding and Bar Mitzvah supplements!
Really? And all along we mug readers were under the impression that it was simply another money-making enterprise for the AJN – like its car and property supplements or the pages about Glenhuntly and Glenferrie Roads. Silly us. Of course the AJN is out there to support Kosher caterers.

(Still, what’s the betting that given half a chance to make a few bucks, the AJN would just as quickly publish a “Treif supplement”?)

We have plenty more to say about this, but enough for now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

JNF: Palm tree destruction and Xmas trees

J-Wire: JNF Australia shocked at palm tree destruction
September 30, 2009 by Henry Benjamin

In what appears to be a pre-Succoth hunt for palm leaves, dozens of palm trees have been destroyed in Israel. JNF Australia is outraged. Federal president Grahame Leonard told J-Wire: “This appears to be a deliberate attempt to irresponsibly and without authorisation strip the trees of their palm leaves in such a way as to destroy them. JNF Australia has interests in palm plantations in the Negev. These are not our trees. But it doesn’t matter whose they are…this is a despicable destructive act and those who did this should be ashamed of themselves.”

Sydney Yeshiva Centre’s Eli Feldman spoke to J-Wire . He said: “Although the report says it is appears to be the work of those in need of palm leaves for Succot, we should abide by the principle of being innocent until proved guilty. Nevertheless, it saddens us very much to hear this news. We instruct all our members to follow the law of the land and to make sure proper permission is granted before touching a tree. Our organisation is very conscious of the work JNF does and most of us have Blue Boxes.”

The JNF’s Michael Marmary told J-Wire: “While on a routine tour, KKL-JNF foresters were surprised to discover that dozens of palm trees planted along the banks of Nahal Harod, in Israel’s northern Jezreel Valley were severely mutilated. It is assumed that individuals interested in the palm branches, used in the prayer services of the upcoming, weeklong Succoth holiday were involved.” While conducting a routine patrol along the banks of the Harod Stream (Nahal Harod) that had been nurtured and rehabilitated over the years KKL-JNFforesters were shocked to discover dozens of palm and date trees stripped naked of their branches.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler stated, “These trees were planted a few years ago in an effort by to rehabilitate Nahal Harod. We rehabilitated the banks of the stream, planted fruit trees and forest groves, constructed and upgraded picnic areas for the enjoyment of the area’s visitors, paved hiking and cycling trails”.
Gil Atzmon, regional KKL-JNF director said, “The trees were decimated in a wild and barbaric manner. The injury was identical in all of the trees, all of the trees’ branches were cut from their tree trunks, seemingly to expose the palm branches to the sunlight so that they would receive a nice green color just before the holiday when these criminals would return and cut the remaining branches”. Atzmon further noted, “This is a mortal injury to the trees. Their treetops were damaged, an injury that will almost certainly cause the trees to wither and die. It hurts to see horrific vandalism such as this”.
The mutilation of the trees for the sake of obtaining their branches is rare in comparison to the damages caused to wild palm trees and willow trees in areas throughout the country because of their use as roofing for the outdoor succas (tabernacles). The injury to the wild palm trees in numerous areas has left these regions virtually stripped of these types of trees that were once a significant part of the regional landscape. This uncontrolled cutting has created a situation in which many of the trees have lost all of their branches, and there were even cases in which whole trees were ripped from the ground.

In earlier years, the country’s Chief Rabbis issued proclamations decrying this phenomenon and reminded Jews “a succa constructed with stolen palm branches is not kosher”. In the past, individuals caught cutting and stealing the branches were fined fines reaching upwards into the thousands of shekels.The KKL-JNF is planning to reinforce its supervision of its forests close to the Succoth holiday and distribute roofing materials for succas at various sites throughout the country in order to combat this phenomenon. The distributed branches are the remains of the trimming routinely conducted inthe forests to protect the life of the trees.

We agree - that is certainly not the way to go about getting S'chach for Sukkot and must be condemned. However reading the outrage expressed in the article one could get the impression that entire forests have been decimated, when it reality they are talking about a dozen or two trees. So, fellas, lets not get things too much out of proportion

But...meanwhile the highly-regarded AJNWatch Reseach Unit did some sniffing around and reported that the very same JNF seems to be far more accommodating when it comes to supplying Xmas trees to Christians. (A gesture no doubt to ensure that no traditionalist Christian will be tempted to chop down a tree on his own... )

Free Christmas Trees from JNF for Christian friends and members of the Foreign Press - 30 November 2006

To: Members of the Foreign Press

From: Shlomit Shrvit, Spokesperson

Dear friends, Re: Christmas Trees

As has become our custom, Jewish National Fund will be pleased to distribute Christmas trees that have been thinned out from its forests to its Christian friends and members of the Foreign Press. The procedure of thinning out of the forests this time of year is part of the regular curriculum in the Jewish National Fund forests.
Trees can be picked up from our Givat Yeshayahu Nursery (near Beit Shemesh) begin from Sunday Dec. 17, until Dec. 24 2006 between 08:00am - 15:00pm.
Kindly contact us in order to reserve your tree - please do so no later than Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005. In your reservation, kindly indicate at the same time the approximate height you would like the tree (between 1 to 6 meters).

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season to you and your families.
Best Regards,

Orit Hadad
Spokesperson's Office

Jewish National Fund

(AJNWatch sidebar comment: Orit Hadad, is the spokesperson for the spokesperson Shlomit Shrvit! This got us wondering. Exactly how large is the JNF's "Spokesperson's Office"? And what about the rest of its bureaucracy? How many extra forests could be planted by reducing unnecessary staff? We asked our Researchers this and similar questions. They sent us to these links: / / / These article are from a while ago and we hope that matters have improved since. But no one here can recall the Australian Jewish News reporting these issues. If any of our readers do, please let us know.)

Another blogpost of interest (especially the comments section):

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Meanwhile it seems that the JNF may be talking out of both sides of its mouth, ie, trying to do the right thing for Christians and at the same time assuring their Jewish (especially traditional and religious) supporters not to be overly concerned about the possibilty of their Blue Box coins helping celebrate a 'holy day' of a religion responsible for untold pain and suffering of Jews for centuries.
How does the the JNF spin it? They say that they actually only giving away "...Christmas trees that have been thinned out from its forests." (More later.)

"Thinned out"? Huh? Since when do Israeli forests require "thinning out"? The experts say that even planting for another 100 years, there will still be no need to "thin out". Come on JNF, pull the other leg - it plays "Jingle Bells".

[We here at AJNWatch have no firm view on this matter either way. Who knows, maybe handing out Xmas trees to those unlovely churches (and their monsignors, bishops and nuns,) UN officials, foreign journalists and embassies, will keep them busy stuffing stockings, thus having less time to spew anti-Israel rhetoric. Maybe. Maybe not.
But please, JNF, don't take your supporters to be total fools.]

We doubt that Eli Feldman knows about the Xmas-tree links. After all, he would surely realise that the Yeshiva's mentor and inspiration, the Lubavitcher rebbe, would've never approved financially supporting distribution of Xmas trees.
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As for the JNF's claim that the trees are sourced by being "thinned out from forests", see what the JNF itself says in an advertorial in Jerusalem Post . Here one can see exactly where these Xmas trees come from:

Choosing your own Christmas trees from KKL-JNF forests

"I can't believe that Israelis ensure that Christians in Israel have Christmas trees! This is really cool!" We were speaking to Nathan, a student at the Jerusalem University College on Mt. Zion, whom we met at KKL-JNF's traditional Christmas tree distribution at their regional offices at Givat Yeshayahu, on Wednesday, 10th December.
"... I'm studying the history and geography of the Holy Land at the Jerusalem University College, the only Protestant institution of its kind. I'm on a two-year program and let me tell you, this is really amazing!"

Every year just before Christmas, KKL-JNF distributes trees to churches, monasteries, embassies and the foreign press in Israel. Eli Ben-Sheetrit, KKL-JNF forester in charge of the lower Judean coastal plain, told us about the project and how it worked: "The first thing we had to do was to choose which tree would make the most beautiful Christmas tree. We decided on the Arizona cedar and as you can see, no one is disappointed by our choice. We used to cut them down in the KKL-JNF forests and bring them here for distribution, but then we had no way of knowing if we were cutting too many or too few. A few years ago, we decided to grow the trees here at Givat Yeshayahu on a few plots especially set aside for this purpose. We alternate between the plots to make sure we always have enough trees to meet the demand.
"We receive one-year old seedlings from KKL-JNF's tree nursery at Eshta'ol - this year I have received 2,000 seedlings. They grow here for another two years until they are about two meters tall, which is the height that most people want. I expect to distribute about 1,200 trees this year. I receive a list of the institutions that requested trees, from Ms. Sarah Singer of the Interior Ministry and in addition, individuals can also take trees for a symbolic fee. KKL-JNF subsidizes the project to continue the good relations with our Christian citizens and visitors. We also supply trees to the United Nations missions in Israel. Personally, I have been working in KKL-JNF for 27 years and I want to see this beautiful tradition continue every year."
After registering with Eli or with Sarah Singer, one can go directly to the cedar grove to choose his tree, where a KKL-JNF employee fells the tree and helps load it into the truck.
Early in the morning, busloads of nuns arrived from Jerusalem and Bethlehem who received almost 400 Christmas trees. Amal came to choose trees for Christ Church at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem. "Christ Church was the first Anglican Church in Jerusalem and I have been coming here every year for trees - this year I'm taking twelve. We really appreciate this and I look forward to returning next year."
For people not affiliated with a church or formal organization, coming to choose and take away a tree can be a real family outing. We met Maiwenn, who is originally from Brittany, but now lives with her husband Udi in Jerusalem. "We heard about the tree distribution through my husband's work, CBC TV of Canada. Apparently KKL-JNF sends out faxes to various organizations in Israel. It's a great opportunity to get outside with our kids and it's a special experience to choose our Christmas tree in the forest where it grows."
More trees will be distributed before Christmas on Monday, 22nd December, mainly to embassies and the foreign press in Israel.
For more information, please visit our website at or e-mail Sponsored content

Another report:

Jerusalem Distributes Free Christmas Trees to Christians
Susan Jones

Jerusalem ( - The city of Jerusalem distributed free Christmas trees to Christians on Thursday as part of a longstanding tradition, a city spokesman said.

For decades, Israel has distributed the trees free of charge, particularly to the expatriot community of Christian leaders, journalists, diplomats and others. One observer quipped that the Jewish State is probably the only country in the world that gives away free Christmas trees to Christians. It is "symbolic of the way Jerusalem unites all three monotheistic religions," said Jerusalem municipality spokesman Gideon Schmerling in a statement. The trees are donated by the Jewish National Fund, which is the country's forestry agency.

"Every year we distribute about 1,200 Christmas trees to religious leaders from different churches, diplomats, U.N. representatives, U.N. peacekeepers and the foreign press," said Paul Ginsberg, head of the forestry department of northern Israel."We also make trees available for sale for the Christian Arab population," Ginsberg told the Cybercast News Service.

Between one thousand and fifteen hundred trees are sold each year."Because we're the only official forestry agency in Israel, we feel responsible to sections of the population to provide them with a service they require," he said.

According to Ginsberg, the most popular variety is the Arizona Cyprus, which looks the closest to a "normal Christmas tree," has a fairly dense number of branches and a greenish-gray color. Most trees are four to six feet tall, although special-order trees are larger. They are harvested as part of the regular process of thinning out the forests."We do our best not only to plant trees for future need [but also to make sure they are] the right size," he added.


So here's some free advice to the JNF. Plant plenty of forests of palm trees. Every year before Sukkot set up distribution centres all over the country. This will put an immediate stop to random vandalism and destruction.

To use their own words: "Every year we distribute about 1,200 Christmas trees ...," said Paul Ginsberg, "...Because we're the only official forestry agency in Israel, we feel responsible to sections of the population to provide them with a service they require..."

This will also show that JNF has "Jewish" interests at heart and deserves the support worldwide Jewry.


Footnote: AJN article about problems in the JNF Sydney office: