Wedding couple to double their shul affections

Posted: 04 April 2017

It’s always cause for celebration when a khasene—a Jewish wedding—takes place in Tasmania.

But the joy of the local community will be doubled at the marriage this May of Maxine Glanger and Lev Fridgant, who are members of Hobart shul although living in Launceston.

That’s because Maxine and Lev have chosen to use both of Tasmania’s historic synagogues as venues during their wedding festivities.

Proceedings start on Saturday, May 6 with the couple’s aufruf during a Progressive service in Hobart Synagogue, founded in 1845 and Australia’s oldest. A kiddush lunch provided by Maxine and Lev will follow the aufruf service.

The action moves to Launceston the next day, where Australia’s second-oldest synagogue dating to 1846 will host the chuppah.

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black of Melbourne will be officiating at both ceremonies, in his last visit to Tasmania as the Progressive Consulting Rabbi to Hobart shul.

Maxine and Lev have always been among our congregation’s most active and popular members. Mazel-tov to them on this auspicious event, and may they enjoy a contented and successful life together.


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.

Jewish community survey seeks Tas responses

Posted: 10 March 2017

A comprehensive survey of the Australian Jewish community that’s only conducted once every 10 years is particularly asking for Tasmanian Jews to take part.

The Gen17 survey is being jointly conducted by the JCA communal organisation in Sydney and the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University in Melbourne.

The importance of the Gen17 survey is that data from it will be used by a wide array of Jewish organisations to plan for the future of Jewish life in Australia.

The organisers would like as many responses as possible from Tasmania and other smaller communities so that their particular viewpoints and interests can be assessed alongside those of Jews in Melbourne and Sydney.

The online survey covers a broad selection of issues and topics but no special knowledge is required. It takes about 40 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous and will be handled confidentially.

You can get access to the Gen17 survey by going to this web page (but not from a mobile phone—some of the questions are too large to fit on a small screen).

If you know someone who might like to take part but doesn’t use the internet, please ask them to ring (03) 9903 5004.

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.

Welcome to our new website!

Posted: 28 September 2016

After many pleas going back a long time, and nearly two years of planning and preparation, we’re very pleased to announce the successful delivery of our new, much more attractive, much more informative, shul website.

Make sure you have a good browse through the various options on the menu bar, try out some of the links, and check out the photo gallery. It may look like a straightforward production, but a lot of work is involved in designing a website and putting it together.

We’re grateful to everyone involved in this effort, but especially to Jeff Schneider, without whose contribution the new site wouldn’t have been possible.

Jeff made the fatal mistake when joining the congregation a few years ago of letting us know that he was a professional web developer. He barely survived the rush of enthusiasm that greeted this news, and has since dealt with all our requests and frequently-changing requirements with patience and unceasing helpfulness.

What’s more, Jeff took on this workload on an entirely voluntary basis, despite having a full-time job and a new-born son to look after as well.

Yasher koach, Jeff—we hope you have more opportunity to enjoy your limited spare time from now on!

Reaching out to the North

Posted: 27 September 2016

Although our official name is the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, the shul has had members from other parts of the state throughout its history.

In fact, our rules say any Tasmanian Jew is eligible to apply for membership, and the ECAJ (Executive Council of Australian Jewry) regards us as representing all Jews in Tasmania.

So it’s been a particularly pleasing trend lately that a number of Launceston-based Jews have taken out membership, despite the obvious limitations on how often they can attend services and other events.

They’ve joined Maxine Glanger (formerly Manifold), our Progressive lay service leader and longstanding member from Launceston.

In recognition of the increased importance of our Northern membership group, the Board has appointed Maxine to a new voluntary position as Northern Coordinator for the congregation.

As part of the new role, she’ll represent us in northern Tasmania and act as an advocate for the interests of Northern members. As well, she’ll be looking out for prospective members from the North and helping out those who’ve already joined.

And not least importantly, she’s authorised to run services and other events in Launceston on behalf of the congregation, which members from anywhere in the state are welcome to attend.

Maxine held her first Friday night service in Launceston shul representing the congregation on August 19, and it drew five Southern-based members in addition to the locals. She also put on a sumptuous feast at her home afterwards, perhaps to encourage others to come in future!

As well, her status as Northern Coordinator allowed her to arrange for Jonathan Keren-Black, the congregation’s Progressive consulting rabbi, to hold a session with Launceston Jews after his visit to Hobart over the Shabbat of September 2-3.

So if you know of anyone in the North who might want to become involved with the congregation, our Membership Officer will be glad to point them in Maxine’s direction. You can email her from here.

Change of guard on the board

Posted: 27 September 2016

The last AGM of the congregation held on Sunday, August 28 this year saw significant changes in the leadership of the congregation.

Our president since 2006, Daniel Albert, announced he was stepping down. Daniel was joined in relinquishing office by Susan Steenbergen, who had served as secretary for almost eight years.

Both Daniel and Susan have devoted enormous effort and time—in fact, a large part of their lives—to their honorary work for our community, and they’ve left behind big shoes to fill. We owe each of them a huge debt of gratitude.

Our new president, elected at the AGM, is Jordana Schmidt. Jordana is a senior teacher at a regional school, and has been a board member since 2014. She becomes the second female president in the congregation’s history.

Kalanit Mayer replaces Susan as secretary. Kalanit hasn’t been on the board before, but has been actively involved in synagogue life for many years.

Another change saw Lin Amoore retire from the board, after a one-year tenure during which her lively contributions often stimulated new thinking.

You can read more about Jordana and the make-up of the current board here.

Daniel and Susan can’t completely relax yet, though. They’ve stayed on the board as ordinary members, where their experience and advice will be greatly valued.

Shul stalwart awarded Progressive honour

Posted: 23 September 2016

Sandy Graetzer’s unstinting efforts over many years as a voluntary contributor to the shul and the wider community were recognised in a festive Erev Shabbat service at Hobart Synagogue on September 2.

Roger Mendelson as president of the Union for Progressive Judaism—the roof body for the Progressive movement throughout the Asia-Pacific region—paid a special visit to our congregation to confer the prestigious Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) Award on Sandy.

The Ner Tamid Award honours members of Progressive congregations other than current or past presidents who have performed exceptional service to their congregations, community—both Progressive and Jewish—and the wider society.

Sandy was one of only four people from the 27 congregations and organisations served by the UPJ to win the award in 2015.

Her husband Stephen was full of pride as he recounted Sandy’s decades-long contributions to the WIZO movement in Hobart while at the same time taking a lead role in organising shul events such as the communal Seder and Hannukah picnic, and hosting numerous social gatherings for the congregation in their home.

Sadly, illness has curtailed Sandy’s involvement in recent times, but she remains the congregation’s Welfare Coordinator, as always  helping to look after members who are unwell or in need.

The buoyant atmosphere for Sandy’s award was heightened by the presence of three other distinguished interstate visitors. Roger Mendelson was accompanied by his wife Sue, while the service was ably conducted by Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black whose wife Sue was also in attendance.

Congratulations, Sandy—may we continue to benefit from your unselfish labours for many years to come.

Membership payment rule changed

Posted: 22 September 2016

At the AGM of the congregation for the 2016-17 year that was held on August 28, members approved an important change to the rule setting out when membership lapses if fees remain unpaid.

Previously, a person’s membership was only regarded as having lapsed if their fees were in arrears for two full years.

The almost unanimous approval of the rule change means that anyone still in arrears on July 1 each year for the previous financial year will be treated as having ended their membership.

This means that members should attend to their seat hire (membership) fees on receipt of the first notice usually sent in August or September. Anyone who still hasn’t done so by the end of the financial year will lose their membership.

The Board recommended the rule change because late payment and non-payment of membership fees has been putting pressure on the shul’s finances.

However, the rule change doesn’t affect the right of any member who feels unable to pay their seat hire fee in full to apply for all or part of the fee to be waived. All applications for fee waivers are considered in the strictest confidence. Members granted a waiver who then satisfy their reduced fee liability retain all the rights and benefits of membership.

The AGM also approved keeping seat hire fee levels unchanged for the next two financial years. For instance, the family membership rate of $280 annually that was first charged in 2015-16 remains in force for both 2016-17 and 2017-18.