Numbers limit at Communal Seder—book early

Posted: 25 February 2018

This year’s Communal Seder is to be held at the synagogue on Friday 30 March, the first night of Pesach.

The same prices and requirements for bringing a dish to share apply as last year. However, something that has changed is that for the first time the shul is imposing a limit on the number of places at the Seder of 30 people.

The decision to set the 30-place limit on numbers was taken because of the limited space available in the synagogue, in order to ensure the comfort of guests.

You can find more information about the Seder and how to book for it here. Please follow the booking and payment instructions carefully, and don’t delay placing your booking. Once the 30-place quota is filled, it will not be possible to accept more bookings unless there are cancellations.


Call for history gifts to shul

Posted: 09 November 2017

Daniel Albert, the long-time former president of the shul, has been appointed to a new honorary position as the congregation’s first archivist.

In the new role, he will be managing all materials relevant to the history of the shul and the Tasmanian Jewish community generally.

These materials can include both documents and objects, whether they’re already in our possession or are donated in the future.

Daniel will start by sorting out material that’s been stored and sometimes hidden away in various places around the synagogue building, but also has the task of responding to enquiries concerning the shul’s history that are generated from the synagogue’s website.

He’s hoping that some of those enquiries will involve possible donations to the shul’s historical collection.

Anyone who’s thinking of contributing materials of historical interest to the shul can reach Daniel by leaving a message here. Please include the words Archivist Contact in the subject line.

“I’m interested in any old documents and other items of historical significance, not just about the congregation, but the Jewish community in Tasmania as well,” he says.

Daniel served as President of the congregation for 10 years from 2006, and was a Board member both before and afterwards.

AGM brings Board changes

Posted: 28 August 2017

There have been some major changes to Hobart Hebrew Congregation’s Board of Management after the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the congregation held on Sunday, August 27.

Two long-standing members of the Board and holders of executive positions announced they were standing down:

  • Daniel Albert was President from 2006 to 2016 and an ordinary Board member both before and afterwards.
  • Beginning in 1983, Stephen Graetzer served as the shul’s Treasurer for a total of 28 years in two separate terms.

The AGM voted unanimously to thank Daniel and Stephen for their many years of tireless unpaid work on behalf of our community. Daniel commented later that when he started on the Board he was nominated without his knowledge and had no inkling he would stay on for so long.

John Rosenbloom, who had been an ordinary Board member since 2014, also stepped down at the AGM.

Stephen has been replaced as Treasurer by Kalanit Mayer, who had previously been the Secretary of the congregation and is a book-keeper in her day-job.

The new Secretary of the congregation is Louise Knopman. Louise was formerly a professional social worker with users of Australian Sign Language, and has been a member of the shul for many years. She was on the Board for a period several years ago and is excited to be returning to it.

The two vacancies for ordinary Board members have been filled by Lev Fridgant and Jeff Schneider.

Lev lives in Launceston with his wife Maxine Glanger and works as a psychiatrist. He’s the first representative of our growing Northern Tasmanian membership to take a seat on the Board.

Jeff is one of our younger members and together with his wife Lisa Eckstein is the proud parent of two young children. A professional web developer, he’s already made important contributions to the congregation’s well-being through setting up and administering the new shul website launched in October 2016.

Continuing in their existing roles are Jordana Schmidt as President, David Clark as Vice-President, and Susan Steenbergen as an ordinary member.

You can read more about Jordana and the make-up of the new Board here.

Long-time Welfare Coordinator steps down

Posted: 28 August 2017

Along with a major change in Board personnel, the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the congregation held on August 27 also saw the retirement of Sandy Graetzer as Welfare Coordinator, a role she had filled for many years.

Shul President Jordana Schmidt took the opportunity in her report to the AGM to thank Sandy publicly, and offer the congregation’s best wishes to her.

Sandy received a Ner Tamid award from the Union for Progressive Judaism in September last year in recognition of her work for the community over more than four decades, including as Welfare Coordinator.

Welfare Coordinators have the task of providing help to members of the congregation and community who are unwell or otherwise in need of support.

The coming year will be the first in a long time without a member of the Graetzer family acting in a voluntary position on behalf of the shul. After a total of 28 years in the role, Sandy’s husband Stephen has retired as Treasurer.

Louise Knopman has been appointed as the new Welfare Coordinator, working in collaboration with Pnina Clark.

Next year’s membership fees approved

Posted: 27 August 2017

Membership (or more officially, seat hire) fees for the next financial year starting in July 2018 have been decided.

The latest Annual General Meeting of the congregation held on 27 August 2017 approved the new scale of fees, which represents the first increase in membership charges since 2015-16.

The new membership fees to apply in 2018-19 are:

  • Couples and Families: $300 ($280 currently and for the last three years)
  • Singles: $190 (currently $175)
  • Full-Time Students: $45 (currently $40)

The congregation’s President, Jordana Schmidt, explained to the AGM that the Board was seeking approval for next year’s membership fees in advance so that renewal notices could be sent out as soon as the new financial year began in July 2018. She said that the congregation relied on membership fees to fund a large part of its recurrent spending, and could not afford to delay issuing renewal notices.

Jordana emphasised that even after the increases, costs of belonging to the shul compared more than favourably with the rates for mainland congregations, including those with similar memberships.

As always, any member who feels unable to pay their seat hire fee in full during 2018-19 will be able to apply for all or part of the fee to be waived.

If you’re Jewish, live in Tasmania, and are interested in becoming a member of our congregation, you can find out about the benefits of joining and how to do it here.

New Consulting Rabbi for shul

Posted: 19 July 2017

Rabbi Allison Conyer has started her tenure as the Progressive Consulting Rabbi in support of the congregation.

She replaces Jonathan Keren-Black, whose role as the shul’s Consulting Rabbi since 2010 came to an end when he officiated at the aufruf of Maxine Glanger and Lev Fridgant on May 6 this year.

Rabbi Conyer’s day-job—apart from helping to raise four children alongside husband Bryan—is at Etz Chayim synagogue in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh, where she became the spiritual leader at the beginning of 2014.

Allison Conyer

Allison Conyer

Originally, she hails from Los Angeles, and was ordained in New York in 1998. However, Rabbi Conyer has spent a large part of her life in Australia in two separate stints.

The first was at North Shore Temple Emanuel in Sydney, where she was the Associate Rabbi for nearly eight years as well as the first female rabbi in NSW.

After some time back in California directing a campus branch of the Hillel Jewish student organisation, she returned to Sydney in 2009 to teach at the Emanuel School. Later, she moved to Melbourne with her family to take up the post at Etz Chayim.

Progressive consulting rabbis have the task of providing support to smaller communities like Hobart’s that lack the resources to employ a rabbi of their own. They are appointed by the Moetzah, the council of Progressive Rabbis in the Asia-Pacific region, in conjunction with the host congregation.

As we know from Rabbi Keren-Black’s regular visits to Hobart, the most public duty performed by consulting rabbis is to lead services and educational sessions in their host communities over at least one frenetic weekend every year.

But they also help behind the scenes by giving advice on ritual, liturgical, and halachic questions, and by passing on their knowledge of people and resources in the wider Jewish world.

Rabbi Keren-Black was an outstanding mentor in all these areas, and was a popular visitor throughout his tenure. He is now serving as the consulting rabbi to the Progressive congregations of New Zealand.

We will shortly have a chance to welcome Rabbi Conyer to Hobart during her first stay as our Consulting Rabbi.  Dates for the visit will be announced soon.



Membership fees unchanged for third year

Posted: 17 July 2017

Membership (or more formally, seat hire) fees for the congregation covering the period 1 July 2017-30 June 2018 are now payable.

The Annual General Meeting held in August 2016 set fees for the current 2017-18 financial year at the same levels applying in 2016-17.

In fact, unusually for any organisation in today’s world, membership fees have been unchanged for the last three years:

  • Couples and Families: $280
  • Singles: $175
  • Full-Time Students: $40

Existing members should already have been issued with a renewal notice. New members receive a fee invoice once their application has been approved by the Board of the congregation.

However, any member who feels unable to pay their seat hire fee in full can apply for all or part of the fee to be waived. All applications for fee concessions are considered in the strictest confidence, and should be directed to the President or Treasurer of the congregation.

If you’re Jewish, live in Tasmania, and are interested in becoming a member of our congregation, you can find out about the benefits of joining and how to do it here.


Volunteers sought to head new social groups

Posted: 04 April 2017

The shul is looking to set up new activity and affinity groups open to all who would enjoy connecting with other community members around a shared interest.

The new social groups aren’t intended to meet in the synagogue, but rather in the homes of participants or other outside venues.

People have already made suggestions for activities that include photography, book reading, films, bushwalking, wine appreciation, and crafts.

Affinity groups might involve parents of young children, singles, or inter-faith couples.

As with any initiative, success will depend on committed leaders who are willing to take on the responsibility for forming and running the new groups.

Leaders can choose the shared interest for the group, including ones not yet suggested, and decide on the frequency of meetings. Schedules could range from a few times a year to monthly, depending on the group.

The shul can help with publicity to its mailing list, but won’t otherwise be directly involved.

If you’d like to set up one of the new social groups, or discuss the possibility, contact our Events Coordinator here.

Latest shul newsletter out

Posted: 04 April 2017

The Pesach 2017 edition of Chaverim, the congregation’s newsletter, has been released.

Its 22 pages are packed with informative and entertaining reading.

Highlights include:

  • Advice on how to make sure to have a Jewish funeral in Tasmania.
  • News about the forthcoming aufruf and chuppah of our Launceston members Maxine Glanger and Lev Fridgant.
  • A round-up of photos from the shul’s Hannukah and Purim picnics.
  • Reflections by longtime member Louise Knopman on her work as a sign language interpreter with deaf people, the first of a new series about some of the activities members perform outside the shul.
  • An article from the BBC about work being done to repair disused Jewish graves in Poland.
  • A recipe for a very special Pesach dish.

Chaverim is normally released three times a year and distributed free of charge to members of the congregation as an exclusive benefit of membership.

If you’d like to receive Chaverim and enjoy the other benefits of membership, you can find out more here.

Tasmanian Jewish Anzacs honoured at shul

Posted: 03 November 2016

More than 100 dignitaries, visitors and members of the Tasmanian Jewish community crowded into Hobart Synagogue on Sunday, October 30, for a colourful service marking the centenary of the Anzac campaigns of World War I.

The commemoration paid special tribute to the role of Tasmanian Jewish members of Australia’s armed forces.

It began in spectacular fashion as the official party was led into the shul by a bagpipe player in full Scottish dress, and climaxed with the dedication of the Roll of Honour of the Jewish Community of Tasmania, which is now on permanent display in the synagogue.

Roll of Honour

Roll of Honour

The Roll of Honour is a plaque made from Tasmanian blackwood and inscribed with the names of 42 Tasmanian Jews who served in the Boer War and the two World Wars. Among these are two Anzacs killed in action on the Western Front —2nd Lt Herbert Ansell and Gunner Felix Bloch.

Relatives of several of the servicemen named in the Roll of Honour were on hand to view its unveiling, as were descendants of founding members of the congregation in 1845, who came from as far afield as Mauritius.

Yahrtzeit candles

Yahrtzeit candles

In other parts of the service, visitors and members of the congregation lit four yahrtzeit candles representing the generations of Australians since Gallipoli, a total of 13 wreaths were laid in front of the Ark, and a bugler played the Last Post.

The service was Tasmania’s contribution to the Centenary of Anzac Jewish Program, whose National Coordinator Peter Allen supervised preparations and was one of the speakers.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman

Rabbi Yossi Friedman

RAAF Jewish chaplain Flight Lieutenant Rabbi Yossi Friedman led the religious elements, which included reading Psalm 23 and reciting Kaddish. Rabbi’s Friedman’s busy weekend in Hobart had previously seen him take Orthodox services in the shul both on Friday night and Saturday morning.

But a number of members of the congregation made key contributions to the success of the event, most notably board member Susan Steenbergen and our president Jordana Schmidt.

Susan worked tirelessly behind the scenes over many weeks to ensure that the service unfolded smoothly, while Jordana was its public face as she introduced speakers and linked the various sections.

Official guests included Sen. Eric Abetz, representing the Federal Government, Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly Elise Archer, Labor MHA Madeleine Ogilvy, and the leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O’Connor, as well as a number of interstate and local armed forces representatives headed by no fewer than three Major Generals.

Congregation looking to Jordana

Congregation looking to Jordana

Ms Archer gave an address in which she recalled the outstanding wartime contribution of Dr Eveline Cohen, one of two women to be listed on the Roll of Honour. Dr Cohen served in a series of military hospitals in England, Malta and Greece during 1915 and 1916.

The public limelight for the congregation didn’t end with the service. Afterwards, many visitors and dignitaries as well as invited members of the shul community enjoyed a reception at Hobart Town Hall hosted by the City Council in honour of the congregation.

Ald. Bill Harvey (deputising for Lord Mayor Sue Hickey, who was unwell) reminded guests of the congregation’s historically significant role in both civic and military affairs in Hobart and Tasmania.

Ald. Bill Harvey, President Jordana Schmidt and Peter Allen

Ald. Bill Harvey, President Jordana Schmidt and Peter Allen

In her response, Jordana presented the council with a framed photo of the newly-dedicated Roll of Honour.

It was a day of remembrance worth remembering in its own right. Kol HaKavod to the organisers and everyone who took part—you may be weary, but you deserve every accolade.

A photo gallery of the event may be viewed here.