Friday, January 29, 2010

"Yom Ha'atzmaut or Australia Day?" AJN recklessness

Mary Walsh's blog "Glen Eira & Thereabouts"

From a quick glance at the above-named blog one can understand why some smell a whiff of anti-Jewish sentiment. But we are yet to be convinced that this can be labeled as anti-Semitism.

However the points that the lady makes in the following post have more than a smidgen of merit.

Yom Ha'atzmaut or Australia Day? You choose!

Ah, I am privy to a better understanding of why Cr Lipshutz reacts to constructive criticism in the way he does!
There ain't no way of pleasing some folk! but fortunately not all!
In this weeks AJN the Vox question was:  "Which mean more to you, Australia Day or Yom Ha'atzmaut?

55% of the on line poll answered Yom Ha'atzmaut, while 44% said Australia. The total numbers who responded weren't provided.

Only those who voted for Yom Ha'atzmaut were photographed and quoted, 5 in all. Aged 22 to 71, the 71 yo psychologist said that 'without the State of Israel my whole life as a Jew would be threatened', another said 'Israel would always be in her heart where ever she lived in the world'. The 22 yo said 'Australia is a comfortable place but Israel is my true home',(but you live in Australia so isn't that your real home?) an engineer 45 yo said "I'm an Australian Jew and Israel is my priority.(so what are you doing living here if your priorities are elsewhere?).

I feel like Australians 'are being used by a system' that does not require people from elsewhere to put the interests of this country, first and foremost. We tolerate being told, that we don't matter effectively, as a nation!

I looked at their happy cheerful faces and wondered why the hell they lived in Australia, if Israel is so very precious to them, why don't they go and live there?

It was a divisive question to ask in the first place but with attitudes like that, possibly more volatile cultures than Australians are offended by that attitude towards a Country they chosen to live in of their own free will. No one is forcing them to stay if they'd rather be elsewhere!

I see on page 16 of the AJN that 'anti Semitism is the highest since WW11.'  Perhaps offending the host country with what some would see as 'ill considered' comments.

The majority of people worldwide, I believe, don't HATE Israel, but neither do they HATE Israel's enemies. Most people worldwide do not spend so much of their day looking for things to be 'offended' by.....All races of people have their preferred options and Jews themselves are a race that prefers inhouse socialising - but they just don't seem to get it, that the rest of the world - doesn't do that! They get on with living their lives, and don't allow the offensive terms which one race may apply to another to spoil their day. (Just the book I'm reading at present is about the fear of an Indian mother that her daughter is seeing a white man, or worse, an African!!) (The hero is working through his own sense of prejudice when he realises how intelligent, beautiful and fully independent the Indian mother is...almost as if he expected, that in England, she could only be a cleaning lady!)

I was heartened that 44% of Jewish folk appreciate the wonderful gift of fate afforded them, to be living in Australia! And that was only those who responded to the poll.....The rest are out there living their lives!


In our view the Jewish News should have shown more 'seichel' and responsibility than to pose such a question and then publish the results. We do not look forward to the field-day that the unambiguous and openly Jew-hating websites will have with this piece of AJN "research"! (We placed "research" in quotation marks - as our information is that the AJN had less than 100 responses to its Vox Pop. That's under 1 in 1000 Australian Jews - rendering it as totally useless information – except for the anti-Semites.)

As to the respondents we too ask: You so adore Israel? Lovely. So what the heck are you doing here? The answer of course is that you far prefer to live here in Australia rather than Israel. But should you say what you REALLY feel, you'll be letting down Israel. You are being false, damaging and irresponsible.

Those of us who have visited Israel, are convinced that should the doors to Australia be opened wide to the locals, half the population would grab the opportunity to immigrate here. (And then, of course, they too will celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut with barbeques in Caulfield and Toorak backyards and but tickets for Song and Music Festival at the Palais...)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another comment on Sydney Kashrut

A letter to the editor in this week's AJN:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Sydney Kashrut Affair (part 2)

Continuing the saga of the Sydney Kashrut 'wars' ( ), this week's AJN carries an almost half-page advertisement by the KA ("sponsored by a Kosher Consumer") plus a couple of letters in response to last week's harsh words of Lea Weiss.

That KA ad does not make for easy reading, being extremely long-winded and employing a tiny font size which really strains the eye. We doubt that too many readers will bother to read through the entire screed. We invite those readers that made the effort, to forward us their comments.

Zvi Rona's letter doesn't go very far in explaining the steep prices of Sydney's caterers. Whatever their 'quality', what can justify double and triple charges to that of Melbourne's caterers? As any Melbournian who has attended up-market weddings catered by Kosher Classique and Eshel will testify, it is sheer nonsense to claim that their their quality is not equal to Passion8. They, together with Ungar and Epicure have shown their flair and talents at functions attended by the highest echelons of the political and busniess world.
In fact the feedback that we received from readers who attended THAT wedding in Sydney was, that it was one of the most beautifully catered weddings that they had attended.
Ah, well, Al taam vare'ach ein lehisvake'ach.

As for Rona's claim that Chabadniks make their weddings in New York to be close to the rebbe, we have news for him. The rebbe sadly passed away 3rd Tammuz 1994 - almost 2 decades ago. But still chassidim continue to make their simchot in NY because of Sydney's hight catering costs. (We have received a number of off-blog emails confirming this.)
FACT:  Far fewer Melbourne Chabadniks travel to NY for the simchot.

As to Rona's suggestion that they should have their Simchot in Israel, the answer is, yes indeed. Many Sydneysiders do exactly that. Possibly for similar reasons.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lee Kernaghan - a Chabad legend !?

Guest post from Sydney Chosid:

(Far be it for me to criticize Sydney Yeshiva who’s record in being in the forefront of loyally promotinge all of the rebbe's inyonim and mivtzoim in our city need no elaboration. However I asked a rav in CH about this and he told me that not only am I permitted to make a public macho’eh – but indeed have a chiyuv to do so.)

Was I the only Chabad chosid to be embarrassed by the Yeshiva promoting a non-Jewish singer at their concert and even giving him equal billing and ‘legend’ status to Avrohom Fried? Frankly this is so far from the ways of the rebbe and chasdus that I am surprised that Avremel hasn’t protested or even pulled out.

I have no idea who this Lee Kernaghan is. He may indeed be one of the chasidei umos haolom, but does that qualify him to be a star at a concert present by ‘headquarter’ of Chabad in NSW?

Furthermore, I am equally upset at the Yeshiva’s advertising this on the J-wire site – 7 days a week. Is there any halachic hetter to advertise with and for Jews on the Shabbos?
I am told that this concert will also take place in Melbourne – but without Kernaghan’s performance. Why is Sydney Chabad different?

Thank you Ajnwatch for publicizing this on my behalf.

What's REALLY going on in the Aussie Kashrut world?

Since the report in the AJN on the Sydney wedding catered by Melbourne’s (Adass) caterer Eshel (Fogels), we have received an unprecedented amount of emails offering views, ‘insider’ stories, complaints and praise for the various Kashrut authorities - as well as criticism of the AJN for airing this matter.

As surprising as this may seem to our readers, in this case we feel that publicity on this subject and revelation of all the facts out may bring some concrete rewards for Kosher consumers – especially those in Sydney. (And after all, the vast majority of AJNWATCH’s demographic are kosher consumers.)

We invite representatives from all of Australia’s Kashrut organizations to have their say and we especially interested in the thoughts of those working in the ‘industry’ including mashgichim and administrative staff.

Here are the 2 items from the AJN which started it all. These are followed by a selection of emails that we have since received.
Meanwhile for some background material on Aussie Kashrut see the excellent recent post by Kosherman:

From Bondiman:
I am very surprised that Adass lets its caterer do business in Sydney. Each city's caterers should stick to their own turf and let the other make a living.

From anon:
Another unnecessary attack on the authority of Rabbi Moshe Gutnick.

From Miriam:
About time that some action is taken against the ridiculously high charges by Sydney's premier caterer. Do they - and Rabbi Gutnick - really think that all of us can afford to spend $25-50,000 on a wedding? My husband is a teacher and it would take him 2 years to accumulate that kind of tax-paid money. And only if meanwhile we didn't pay rent or feed and clothe our 3 kids. When the time comes, we will definitely be contacting Eshel in Melb.

From George in Detroit:
As an ex-Aussie, my friends keep me up-to-date with what is happening down under. (I am also a fervent fan of your great blog.) Thus I was totally shocked to learn that our brethren in Sydney are subjected to such ridiculous catering and kashrus costs. How on earth does an average person afford this? Shouldn't the rabbis there be trying to encourage Kashrut and be on the forefront in demanding lower costs? I feel very sorry for my Sydney compatriots who have to spend a small fortune to line the pockets of caterers and rabbis.

From anon:
I think it is wonderful that unlike Melbourne, Sydney has a single Kashrut authority. This way we all have the same kosher standard - unlike the situation in Melb. But sadly this non-competitiveness comes at a very high price for us. Catering costs are double, triple and even more than in melb and the kashrut charge too seems to be 2 or 3 times it is in Melb. Thus while I praise the single authority system  the lack of competition creates a monopoly situation where the rabbi and caterer can get away with the most outrageous charges. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, who seems to be the only rabbi involved in this, should be leader the battle for us kosher consumers and ensuring that we can all afford kosher simchot without facing bankruptcy.

Emily wrote:
Question. Where does all the money paid for kosher supervision go to? At $6.60 per head with the average wedding and barmitzva having 300-500 guests that totals around $2500 per party. If there are 100 such functions a year, that comes to over a quarter of million dollars. And reading the engagement and wedding notices in the  AJN there are actually far more than that. Plus many, many other smaller affairs. Who is getting rich on our backs? Does the NSWKA publish a financial report annually? If so, where can it be viewed? It should make some very interesting reading - especially for non-rich Jews, who have to take out bank loans for their children's weddings.

Aaron wrote:
I think the AJN report does a disservice to our community. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick has been and continues to be a loyal servant of Kashrut consumers. I have no idea of what his income or salary is, but I doubt that he is paid anywhere near the value of his work. While the other rabbis do nothing about Kashrut except enjoy the benefits of Rabbi Gutnick's work, he spends his days and nights travelling all over the state and even NZ to advance Kashrut. It's about time we showed some appreciation to this one man band.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

JCCV looking for problems?

Hasn't the JCCV learned from the past that pandering to the noisy - and miniscule - gay lobby is a recipe for another debacle?

Have they already forgotten the warnings of the late and lamented Rabbi Chaim Gutnick z”l about this matter?

Do they really again wish to alienate the rabbis, the orthodox Shuls and the traditional and even irreligious members of the Victoria Jewish community who are either totally opposed to giving this group of individuals a voice on the community’s official forum or are bored and disinterested with the bleating of a few troublemakers?

Reading the AJN article, the question that comes to mind is, how soon can we expect the JCCV to “establish a reference group to better understand” Jewish chazzir-fressers, Jewish Shabbos-violators, Jewish thieves and Jewish Hindus?

And isn’t this an opening for “Jews for Jesus”, who in the eyes of many, are no less worthy than practicing ‘proud’ homosexuals. (And then how far will we be before the JCCV looks into “Gay Jews for Jesus”…?)

John Searle should be VERY wary of trying to act “politically-correct” by engaging with such persons in the name of the JCCV.

We understand that they may need help with health and mental issues, suicide prevention, discrimination or any other matter.
Let them go to any of the dozens of organizations that have been established for homosexuals specifically for this purpose. After all, Jewish and non-Jewish homosexuals generally have the same problems and issues.  And should a specific “Jewish” matter arise, they can visit a rabbi in private and advice will surely be forthcoming.

We sincerely hope that Searle will come to his senses. Otherwise the other members of the executive should take steps to remove him from the presidency. It simply is not worth destroying the community’s main representative group for the sake of a few troubled people.

Searle should understand that the orthodox communities – together with those who do not believe that homosexuality is a specific Jewish problem – are by far the largest proportion of the Jewish population. It makes no sense to upset them needlessly.