News

Historic Day at NSTE

On Sunday 25 November, Rabbi Nicole Roberts was installed as Senior Rabbi of North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE), becoming the first female Senior Rabbi in Australia. 

Celebrating the appointment made in March 2017, the ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D, beloved mentor of Rabbi Roberts and prolific author, long-time seminary professor, and leading visionary of the Progressive Jewish Movement. 

Rabbi Hoffman spoke of his close association with Rabbi Nicole ever since her student days. 
“I have been teaching rabbis for almost half a century and have rarely met anyone so utterly and thoroughly good; so deep and warm, learned and kind. What an asset she will be to the Sydney community.”

Addresses were given by the Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles-Gidney, Rabbi Fred Morgan AM - Movement Rabbi for the Union of Progressive Judaism, and Gwen Harrison - President of NSTE. A letter from Rabbi Nicole’s family in America was read by her partner, David Roberts. There was not a dry eye in the sanctuary. 

Jess Harrison, Federal Mazkirah (Chair) of Netzer Australia, the Progressive movement’s youth group, shared her experience going back to her school days. “We look up to you [Rabbi Nicole], but you look straight across at us, seeing us as partners, as equals in this community...it’s incredibly refreshing, inspiring, and empowering.”

The installation was attended by around 350 people and live-streamed so Rabbi Roberts’ family and friends in the USA could witness the occasion. NSTE was honoured by the presence of the speakers above, as well as Rabbi Emeritus Richard Lampert, Rabbi Gary Robuck who led the congregation prior to Rabbi Roberts’ 2017 appointment, Rabbi Brian Fox AM, clergy of Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra, and dignitaries the Hon. Paul Fletcher, MP, Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Willoughby Judith Rutherford, Councillor Wendy Norton, Nishan Basmajian-Diocese Executive Director of the Armenian Church, Justice Stephen Rothman AM - President of the Great Synagogue, Stephen Chipkin-President of the JCA, Lynda Ben-Menashe of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, and Renata Ieremias of Jewish Care. Musical contributions by NSTE Interim Cantor Ted Labow and the NSTE Choir directed by Judy Campbell helped make for an unforgettable ceremony.

“This was a historic day not only for our synagogue, but for the Jewish community and Australia,” says Rabbi Roberts. “With many in America watching the live-stream and Rabbi Hoffman with us from overseas, NSTE has entered the world stage.”

In her address, Rabbi Roberts spoke about moments of awe, and “making moments matter.”  Reflecting later on the ceremony, she said, “The warmth and optimism in the sanctuary were evident and abundant. There was so much love in the room. To have a modern day ‘sage’ and visionary, Rabbi Hoffman, officiating the ceremony was one of the greatest honours of my life, and a gift to our congregation that will be remembered for decades to come. We are all still basking in the excitement of the day.”   

Some feedback received:

"Wow, what an Installation. The ceremony was very well crafted and I was tearful with emotion when the final L'dor va dor filled the sanctuary. 

About ten years ago I felt that the Temple wasn't going to be there in 20 years or so. The number of South Africans who had  immigrated into the life of the Temple was diminishing, assimilation was rife and the competition with doing some Westfield shopping or just 'feeling spiritual watering my garden' was too attractive. It was depressing. After yesterday's event I left with a deep sense of 'We will survive and more than that - we'll be flourishing'. Rabbi Nicole is a huge addition to what has been hours of dedication and hard work of many committed congregants. Not everyone can do committees some can just rock up regularly like Stephen and I. We look forward to doing just that for many years to come. A big thank you to everyone involved in renewing our spirit."

- Debbie Scholem, NSTE Member

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UPJ Biennial Report

- Jocelyn Robuck

The UPJ Biennial, held in Melbourne, Australia on 15-18 November, hosted more than 220 attendees from around the UPJ region (which covers Australia, New Zealand and Asia), with additional representatives from the UK, Israel and the USA. The program, themed “Making Progress” and furthering the work begun at our previous Biennial with Dr Ron Wolfson, featured Rabbi Dr Lawrence A Hoffman as the scholar-in-residence. Rabbi Larry led inspiring plenary sessions titled “How We Pray is Who We Are: The Message of the Prayer Book“ and “Returning Home: Mission Driven but Sh’ma Inspired“, and workshops allowed participants to focus on specific interests and how they related to his presentations. Panel discussions on “Israel as our Spiritual Homeland” and “Jewish Demography: Pathways, Bridges and Stumbling Blocks” with experts in their fields were also featured. WUPJ President Danny Freelander generously shared his knowledge and music throughout the conference.

The learning was extraordinary and was complimented by fun and festive social events, including an opening cocktail party and an aviation-themed Saturday night gala. A “taster” for the Shir Chadash Music Conference, to be held on 12-14 July 2019 in Geelong, was offered by our talented Music Network, led by Cantor Michel Laloum and Judy Campbell, with special guest song leader Marshall Voit. The Friday night Shabbat service and dinner were graciously hosted by Temple Beth Israel, and the weekend was capped off with participation in Mitzvah Day activities on Sunday afternoon. We hope our UPJ community will save the date for our next Biennial to be held on 5-8 November 2020 in Sydney - we’d love to see you there!

Click here to view the three-part video produced by “The Shtick”.

(Pictured: Immediate past chair Kelvin Ratnam with three lovely North Shore Temple Emanuel ladies: President Gwen Harrison, Program and Admin Manager Pauline Lazarus and Temple Administrator Lynne Michel - Photo credit: Joe Lewit).

 

 

 

 

message from ARZA - December 2018


•    Who should decide the Rabbi to officiate at your wedding? 
•    Who should determine who is called to the Torah for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah? 
•    Who should determine where you can pray if you visit the Kotel in Jerusalem?

As you will understand, currently in Israel the answers to these questions are that these decisions are in the hands of an Orthodox Rabbinate that does not recognise Progressive or Conservative Judaism as legitimate or authentic expressions of Judaism.

There are many other questions that can easily be added to this list, touching on the many current and pertinent issues of religious and gender equality; the use of funds within the World Zionist Organisation; the recognition of Conversions; and the long-term relationship between Israel and the Jews in the Diaspora.

While many of these issues are argued over in the Knesset and the legal system in Israel, the one place where Diaspora Jews are welcomed into the debate is within the World Jewish Congress, the Parliament of the Jewish People.  It is there and there alone that the views of World Jewry have influence on decisions that affect the World Zionist Organisation; the Jewish Agency, including the UIA and JNF; and, eventually, the Knesset.

At this time ARZA Australia, through its roof body, ARZENU, is part of the strongest coalition in the WZC and has succeeded in moving debate and decisions on a number of the issues mentioned above.  However, that influence will end if we don’t maintain our voting numbers here and elsewhere.

Maintaining our efforts to make Israel the democratic and inclusive society described in the Declaration of Independence can only be achieved by members of the UPJ congregations voting in WZC elections and that can only happen if each adult over the age of 18 is registered as a paid-up member of ARZA Australia. 

If you are currently a member of ARZA Australia, thank you.  Please use the information in this article to encourage like-minded people to join or renew their membership.  If you are not yet a member please join now by visiting our website www.arza.org.au or through your Synagogue office. Membership is only $18 per adult per year and you just add it to your synagogue membership cost.


Steve Denenberg
President 

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Spiritual Leadership Update - 1 November 2018

In 2017, NSTE conducted a global search for additional clergy to support Rabbi Nicole. This offered us the opportunity to better formulate our longer term needs and better address the expectations of the Community.

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Cantor Ted, who has served as Interim Cantor since January 2018 and as Director of Education, Meah, since May. We have all benefited from his musical talents, his meaningful contributions for the High Holy Days and his passion for Judaism. Cantor Ted will continue to share his gifts with us until the end of his contract in June 2019.

Following considerable discussion, we have concluded that our needs have evolved. The Board, in conversation with Rabbi Nicole, has determined that a “Rabbi-Educator” (an Assistant Rabbi who also has a degree in Jewish Education) would be best suited to our community’s needs in the longer term. Rabbi-Educators bring a unique combination of skills to bear on building and sustaining vibrant communities like ours, possessing a passion for both spiritual leadership and education at every age and stage of life.

Our thanks go out to all in our community for your patience during the search process. As in the past, we will keep you informed of any opportunities to meet and experience prospective candidates as our search proceeds.

With our building renovation nearing completion and Rabbi Nicole’s Installation ceremony on the near horizon, we are excited to be embarking on the next exciting chapter for NSTE.

Gwen Harrison
NSTE, President

NSTE Statement about the Pittsburgh Shooting

“Whenever the Holy Blessed One calls to mind His children deep in travail among the nations of the world, God lets fall two tears into the Great Sea. Their splash is heard from world’s end to world’s end, and the earth quakes” (Talmud).

A world away, we feel acutely the pain of our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh after the deadly shooting this weekend at the Tree of Life congregation in the USA. We mourn the lives taken so viciously and violently, and pray that those struggling can feel us holding them in our most fervent prayers.

May the world thunder in response, awakening to the threat, scourge, and spread of antisemitism and violence, just as we awoke to this dreadful news over the weekend and felt shaken to our core.

“The Holy One says, ‘I am with [Israel] in distress… Note from where I speak to you—the midst of a thornbush. I am a partner in their pain” (Midrash).

Let us partner with all who pursue a world free of baseless hatred, and who condemn acts of violence against our people and all peoples. May these acts only strengthen our community’s resolve to teach our children to love: to love kindness, to love being Jewish, to love the stranger, to love peace, and to love the God of Israel, who feels the pain of our people from the midst of the thornbush.

On behalf of the leadership, clergy, and staff of NSTE,

Rabbi Nicole
 

Here is the Statement from Union of Progressive Judaism (UPJ) about the shooting

 

Rabbi Nicole has been published

Prayers of Awe, edited by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., is an anthology of essays devoted to exploring the depth of the Jewish High Holy Days. Volume 8 of the series, N’ilah, “The Closing of the Gates”, the conclusion of the Yom Kippur service, is the title and theme of this year’s edition and includes an essay from our Rabbi Nicole Roberts.

As described on Amazon, Volume 8 “comes with introductory essays on the history, theology, and deeper meaning behind the prayer experience. It then assembles some 40 short and accessible essays designed to unlock the mystery and depth of the occasion. Authors come from all walks of life – clergy and laypeople, scholars and artists, men and women across the generations – and from seven countries (Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Israel, the UK and USA).” The Australian contributor is our Rabbi Nicole.

A copy of the book will be on display in the foyer at Shabbat Shuvah this weekend and a few copies are expected to arrive shortly and will be available for purchase through the office. The cost is to be confirmed.

Copies are also available through the usual online sources, including: Amazon and Booktopia

Rabbi Nicole would be delighted to sign any copies of the book and, as Rabbi Hoffman will be visiting NSTE for Rabbi Nicole’s installation on 25 November, you will also have the opportunity for him to sign your copy of the book at that time.

This is the second book that Rabbi Nicole has contributed to in the Prayers of Awe series. We still have a few volumes of the first, if you wish to purchase that one as well.

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Parashat Hashavua for Ki Tavo

- Rabbi Nicole's message in UPJ e-newsletter 31 August/1 September 2018

Have you ever noticed that from the moment you board an airplane, you’re made to feel as though you’ve practically stepped into your vacation destination? Board an Air New Zealand flight, and the seats are all black. Board Hawaiian Airlines, and every announcement from cockpit ends with “mahalo.” Board Qantas and you’ll hear Australian music playing. The airlines see themselves as an extension of the vacation destination. They see the journey there as part of the adventure. They do an excellent job of getting you into the spirit of your trip, which until you board the plane, is lost amid the online travel planning; the price-shopping; the fare, hotel, and car rental bookings; all the laborious logistics. Once you’ve boarded the plane, before you even take off, you’ve left the mundane behind. Our appetite is whet for what’s to come.      

This phenomenon always reminds me a bit of Elul—the month preceding the High Holy Days—and how we’re meant to prepare for our journey to and through the Days of Awe. I once took a trip to New Zealand two weeks before the Yamim Noraim to celebrate the simcha of a colleague. Due to the timing, I had packed as much work as I could into the weeks before: sermon-writing, logistical-planning, meetings, and other preparations. Consequently, I had done nothing to get into the spirit of the Holy Days. Suddenly, on the all black plane—suspended in flight and unable to attend to my regular rabbinic duties—I realized that that needed to change.

So upon arrival, I did what many do every year in the days leading up to Yom Kippur: I went to the mikveh. Not exactly a mikveh, there in Rotorua… but next door to our hotel was a spa that offered the opportunity to dip into healing waters—in open-air pools fed and heated by the geothermal currents and mineral-rich nutrients of the steaming lake they surrounded and looked over. This would do, I decided.

Since the erev Yom Kippur mikveh ritual is merely a custom, not halakhah, it didn’t require blessing. But wanting to elevate the moment to the realm of the sacred, as well as make it feel uniquely Jewish, I went ahead and said the blessing for tevilah—immersion. As I prepared to immerse a second time, I recited to myself the 13 attributes of God’s mercy found in our High Holy Day liturgy: Adonai Adonai, El rachum v’chanun, erech appayim v’rav chesed, v’emet, notzer chesed la’alafim, noseh avon va’fesha, v’chata’ah v’nakeh. Before the third immersion, I sang to myself: v’al kulam Eloha slichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper lanu—“God, grant us atonement.” Choosing pieces from the liturgy, considering what would make the ritual meaningful, deciding to use the plural lanu instead of li—these considerations required thoughtfulness, intentionality, and introspection, which had been lacking in my High Holy Day preparations to that point.

Afterwards, still in the pool, I was reminded by the full moon rising over the lake that Rosh Hashanah was only two weeks away. I didn’t emerge from the pool feeling cleansed of my transgressions—only more ready for the task of repentance that lay ahead. Why? Because for a few moments I had been able to forget about all the logistics and the planning and actually remember what this time of year is all about: intentionality, readiness, and introspection; humility, mercy, and forgiveness; personal transformation and holiness. My mikveh ritual was not unlike what the airlines allow us to do: Take a dip in the pool of what’s to come, whetting our appetites, so that we enter our journey in the appropriate mindset of eager anticipation. With a spirit that’s open to adventure. Airborne and buoyant, not weighed down by exhaustion and worry.

You needn’t be a rabbi with convenient access to a geothermal pool in order to get into the appropriate mindset, and spirit-set. Find a ritual that works for you. Maybe that’s taking an evening walk under the stars and watching the moon shrink smaller and smaller as we approach Rosh Hashanah. Maybe it’s taking a daily swim on a beautiful beach. Maybe it’s spending 10 minutes a day in silent contemplation, or eating only healthy foods, between now and Kol Nidre. Maybe it’s talking with a rabbi about what’s weighing you down—emotionally, or spiritually—what you need help letting go of or coping with in the coming year. Maybe it’s praying with a community on Selichot, or attending a Jewish study session. Make ‘getting there’ part of the adventure.

There are so many ways to prepare for High Holy Days, and now’s the time to brave the waters. You’ve got your tickets, you’ve marked your diaries, you’ve asked for leave time. Now it’s time to set aside the mundane and prepare the soul. So fasten your seatbelts, stow your tray tables, and lift your seatbacks to the upright position, as we prepare for takeoff. We’re glad to have you aboard.
 

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Allan Hall's City2Surf Experience 

Mazal tov to Allan Hall for competing in his first City2Surf over the weekend! 

This is a big achievement for Allan, who lost his sight last year. With the support of the organisation, Achilles Australia, which facilitates training and participation in running and walking events for people with a disability, he was able to successfully complete the challenge. 

Leanne Shelton interviewed Allan about the experience.

Why did you choose to participate in this year's City2Surf? Since suddenly losing most of my sight last year, I seem to have developed an appetite for taking on challenges. I have heard this (event) mentioned by several people in similar situations. It is like showing that having a disability does not mean the end of an active and participatory life. Joining Achilles and taking part in increasingly longer events is part of that challenge, plus being a great social activity in itself.

What was your time on Sunday? One hour 45 minutes in total. The race record is certainly not under any serious challenge!

Did anyone apart from the Achilles representative run with you? Like all the Achilles participants, I had two volunteer guides; such wonderful people. Apart from them, there were only 70 or 80,000 other people.

How long have you been with Achilles? Since around September or October last year.

Do you plan to participate in any other runs in the near future? The Blackmore’s Running Festival in Sydney in September is next on the calendar. I will do the shorter 10 km run and save the half marathon for next year.

 

e-Hatikvah Spotlight -  9 August 2018 - Gwen Harrison

This Shabbat is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar, so it is just a few weeks to the High Holy Days. I wanted to share with you some news relating to the HHDs, not for this year but for coming years.

Together with the other Progressive congregations of our region, we are excited to announce that after several years of hard work, the Rabbis of the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) have completed editing a new prayer book for the High Holy Days: the Mishkan T’shuvah machzor to be published early in 2019 in two volumes, one for Rosh Hashanah and one for Yom Kippur. Many congregations in our movement are moving to the new books next year and our clergy team will consider the appropriate timing for NSTE’s transition to the new machzor after the upcoming High Holy Day services. 

The new machzor is a companion piece to the Mishkan T’filah siddur, which we pray from each week on Shabbat.  The new machzor retains the prayers and customs that we expect in our most special services, while bringing a distinctive local tone and more traditional format to the original North American text. Mishkan T’shuvah has been compiled with the greatest care, and we are confident it will both maintain and refresh the spirit of the Days of Awe. The timing of its release is fortuitous, as the “Gates of Repentance” machzor has now been out of print for several years, and we are no longer able to acquire copies.

There are several logistical considerations, primarily the purchase of the new volumes. Thanks to significant and generous support by our long-standing member Toni Whitmont, NSTE has been able to financially fulfill our congregation’s order commitment on a timely basis (thereby enabling publication of volumes for all UPJ congregations) as well as offsetting a large portion of the cost of the copies purchased for NSTE.

NSTE still needs to cover the balance of the cost. Our members will be given the opportunity to co-sponsor one or more of the machzor sets for the NSTE community (as was the case with the Mishkan T'filah weekly siddurim). Your support will enable us to keep the volumes of Mishkan T’shuvah onsite, for use by congregants and guests attending High Holy Day services each year. There will also be a limited opportunity for our members to purchase a personal copy. We estimate pricing to be $40 per sponsored set or $80 for a personal set. More details about this will be provided in due course.

There is also an opportunity to join the sponsors of the entire edition. If this may be of interest to you, please contact the UPJ directly for further details.

To everything there is a season, and we look forward to sharing with you the spirit of High Holy Day prayers - new and old - in years to come.

Gwen Harrison - NSTE President

 

Board Announcement - 26 July 2018 - Gwen Harrison

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Ingrid Amoils to the NSTE Board of Directors.   

Ingrid and her family have been members of NSTE since 2012. Her daughter, Anna, recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah and is a member of our “Teen Torah Tag Team”. Ingrid's son, James, will soon start to actively prepare for his Bar Mitzvah.  
 
Professionally, Ingrid qualified as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa and served her articles at Ernst & Young.  Currently, Ingrid works as a co-founder of Bamboo Associates, which is focused on high impact, practical growth strategy for smaller to medium-sized businesses. She is also a trustee of the Friends of Mthimkhulu Trust, based in South Africa, which provides support to vulnerable children.  Ingrid was also a teacher at our Meah Hebrew and Religion school in 2015 and 2016. 

We welcome Ingrid to our Board. With her insights into the richly diverse nature of our community and an appreciation of the distinct challenges of a not-for-profit environment, we are confident she will make a valuable contribution to the future of NSTE.

A vacancy in the Board came about as Darren Palmet recently resigned ahead of returning shortly to the USA with his family, as his wife Yvonne takes on a new employment opportunity there.

We are very sorry to lose the Palmet family who have been so much a part of our community, with two kids in Meah and one recent Bat Mitzvah who participated in the Teen Torah Tag Team.  We are very grateful to Darren for his extensive contributions on the Board in marketing and communications, particularly in connection with his tremendous work in supporting our Capital Appeal.  Darren also played a key role in the formation and leadership of the Community Families Club (CFC). With the recent north shore focus campaign, Go North, Darren provided value-add marketing expertise to the collective initiative.

We will miss Darren and his wonderful family, both professionally and personally.  We wish Darren and his family well on their new journey.

Gwen Harrison
President, North Shore Temple Emanuel

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Spotlight - 31 May 2018 - Gwen Harrison

Following our AGM last Sunday night, it is my honour to be the new President of North Shore Temple Emanuel. I feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of so many remarkable people and continue this great work. 

As many of you are aware, I have served on the NSTE Board since 2015, taking on the role of Vice President from October 2016. My responsibilities have included governance, assisting with strategic planning, Board guidance for the Community Wellbeing Program, member of the NSTE Programming Committee (NPC), member of the Transition Team and facilitator for Community Conversations, Education portfolio and Board member responsible for our NSTE Meah Hebrew & Religion School.

I am pleased to report that the new Executive is comprised of:
President:            Gwen Harrison
Vice Presidents:        Geoffrey Wolf and Edward Baral
Secretary/Treasurer:        Barry Gottheiner

Mark Ginsburg will continue to support the Board in the capacity of Immediate Past President and retains his role as Chair of our Building Our Future project.

Ruth-Anne Cohn has moved into a Director position after 3 years in the role of Vice President. We are grateful to Ruth-Anne for continuing on the Board. Her contribution has been enormous and she continues to support us in the areas of human resources,  recruitment and Board liaison for the Boomers groups.

I am also pleased to welcome two new Directors - Julia Selby and Jennifer Ruskin. Julia has been a member of NSTE for many years and is currently Chair of our Jews for Social Action (JSA).  Jen, who is a lecturer in PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) at Macquarie University, as well as a Meah parent, brings a new set of capabilities to the Board.

For more information on Board members, click here

David Levy has stepped down after 5 years of service including in the role of Vice President in 2015/2016. He was the NSTE Board representative for the NSTE (Martin and Emma Hannes) Pre-School (now known as the Apples & Honey Pre-School) for 3 years and has been closely involved with all matters relating to our worship services. He continues his volunteer involvement as a chorister, lay leader in the capacity of shaliach tzibur, and head of the committee for introduction of the new UPJ machzor. We thank David for his mentoring and wise counsel and look forward to his continued involvement at NSTE.

This is an exciting time for NSTE, with so much in place to support the vision that Rabbi Nicole has established with our Board of Directors and your input to our Community Conversations.  It is my intention to continue to strengthen what we do well and bring in the new initiatives that are critical to our future. 

Shabbat shalom,

Gwen Harrison
President, North Shore Temple Emanuel
 

 

Dave Sharma speaks at NSTE AGM

North Shore Temple Emanuel recently held its 58th Annual General Meeting and was honoured to have Dave Sharma, Director and Principal at Kelly+Partners and former Australian Ambassador to Israel as guest speaker on the evening.

Mr Sharma served as Australia’s Ambassador to Israel from 2013 to 2017. This period coincided with some of the busiest and most productive years for the Australia-Israel relationship, with trade, investment and innovation ties strengthened significantly. Dave's leadership kept the Embassy secure and operational during several periods of significant security unrest and tension, including the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

At the AGM, Mt Sharma delighted members with stories of his personal experiences of arriving in Israel with his young family including a newborn of just 5 weeks old and how his family quickly adapted to Israeli life. He also shared his opinions, and insights regarding the current state of play in the Middle East and recent events on the border with Gaza.

Mr Sharma observed that the symbiotic relationship between Israel and the diaspora was like no other that he had observed and impressed upon the audience the importance of being vocal supporters of Israel.

The members gathered were listening so intently that Mr Sharma jokingly concluded that he was a little unnerved as in Israel he had never presented to an audience that were so quiet and attentive.

The NSTE AGM also saw the emotional farewell of outgoing President Mark Ginsburg and the election of Gwen Harrison to the role.  Gwen later observed, "It is my honour to be the new President of North Shore Temple Emanuel. I feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of so many remarkable people and continue this great work."

 

Shabbat with Pride - Friday 25 May 2018

Members of North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE) made history recently, as the congregation celebrated its inaugural “Pride Shabbat” service on Friday 25 May.  

The date was chosen by its proximity to Sydney’s Pride Festival which celebrates LGBTI art, cinema, and events, however, as pointed out in Senior Rabbi Nicole Roberts’ welcoming words, it was also opening night of Vivid, “when a rainbow of colours annually lights up the Sydney sky and cityscape. What better time for a celebration of diversity and inclusion!" 

Rabbi Roberts continued, "A few years ago, Vivid first came to Chatswood. Tonight, Chatswood welcomes Pride Shabbat.”

Organised by members of NSTE’s Inclusion and Diversity Task Force, including NSTE staff members Dave ‘Dudu’ Gottlib and Sarona Perez, the evening began with Kabbalat Shabbat led by Rabbi Roberts and Cantor Ted Labow on guitar. Special guest speaker, Dayenu (Sydney's Jewish LGBTI group) President, Kim Gotlieb, delivered the d’rash, just before Rabbi Nicole invited all newcomers to the shul to ascend the bimah for Aleinu. 

After the service, everyone joined in a delightful wine and cheese gathering, lingering awhile to chat and meet new people. 

“Our closing song was Ani V’atah (“You and I”) which has lyrics that speak of changing the world, one by one,” says Rabbi Roberts. “One person at a time, one partnership at a time, one service at a time, we will draw people in from the margins of Jewish life and help them feel they are an integral part of our community.”

Embracing diversity was a prominent theme in Mr Gotlieb’s address, as well. He said “It is fitting on this inaugural Pride Shabbat that our Torah portion concludes with a beautiful ritual in which each of the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel brings an offering for the inauguration of the altar. While their gifts are identical, they are brought on different days and each one is individually described. For me, this calls on us to be very mindful of our individuality and uniqueness, while also realising that at our core…we are all identical in the eyes of God.”

NSTE’s first annual “Pride Shabbat” service is part of the work of the NSTE Inclusion and Diversity Task Force, which seeks ways to make our community more accessible and inclusive. 

“It was really lovely to see and meet new smiling faces at shul,” says Immediate Past President, Mark Ginsburg. “Seeing everyone up on the bimah during Aleinu was heart-warming."

"As a Director of NSTE, it was my absolute honour to participate in NSTE’s First Pride Shabbat on 25 May 2018," adds Ruth-Anne Cohn.  "This opportunity to worship and socialise together quickly transformed into a Shabbat evening filled with respect, support, warmth and joy.  May this be only the first of many such opportunities."

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(Click the article to enlarge)

Eliza McCarroll Rabbinic Intern Announcement

We are delighted to share that Eliza McCarroll will be returning to North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE) in the capacity of Rabbinic Intern in June 2018 for approximately five weeks. Eliza would have just completed her first year of rabbinic studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Jerusalem, Israel, and will serve as NSTE’s first Rabbinic Intern.

As Rabbinic Intern, Eliza will be afforded the opportunity to put into practice her rich learnings of the past year, while participating in a wide variety of NSTE activities and offerings. She will join in service leading and leyning, teaching adults and children, developing youth programs, supporting our b’nei mitzvah program, and contributing to other special projects. 

Prior to entering rabbinical school, Eliza was a familiar face around NSTE, having worked as part of our Office Team, tutoring our b’nei mitzvah students, and playing a leading role in Netzer spanning many years. Likewise, Eliza’s family are long-standing members and active contributors to our congregation and movement, with her mother, Karen Wagner, having recently served on our Board of Directors and her brother, Joel McCarroll, having served Netzer at a local and federal level. 

We are thrilled to welcome Eliza back to Sydney during her break, before she moves to America to continue her studies at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a rare and exciting privilege for a congregation to help support and shape a student’s rabbinic journey, especially a student beloved by so many in our community, as Eliza is. Please join us in welcoming Eliza back to NSTE at this exciting time.   

Rabbi Nicole Roberts                       Mark Ginsburg
Senior Rabbi                                         President
NSTE                                                         NSTE
 

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Livracha - Australian Jewish News 19 January 2018

Click image to enlarge

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Davar Acher

Read Rabbi Nicole’s response in J-Wire to a recent article by Professor Bill Rubinstein.

Prof. Rubinstein’s article: “Religious Liberals on the Way Down?"
Rabbi Nicole’s response: “Davar Acher”

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Australian Parliament says 'Yes' to Marriage Equality - 7 December 2017

It's the season of FREEDOM in the Jewish calendar! With joy and satisfaction, our NSTE community celebrates the new freedom granted LGBTI couples in love. Contact us when you're ready to tie the knot!  We are pleased to share with you the statement from the Progressive movement's rabbis released today:

"The rabbis of The Rabbinic Council of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Moetzet HaRabbanim, are pleased to learn that the Australian Government has heard the voice of the significant majority of the Australian people and has formally legalised marriage equality. We are equally satisfied that the legislation passed without amendments which could have introduced new opportunities for discrimination in Australia. We look forward to sanctifying the marriages of our community with equality."

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Statement on Marriage Equality Survey Result - 15 November 2017

The Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, along with the Council of Masorti Rabbis of Australia, rejoice that the plebiscite has endorsed marriage equality to be part of Australian law.  We urge the Parliament to adopt legislation as soon as possible to implement the will of the Australian people for marriage equality, without undermining current anti-discrimination law.

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NSTE Announcement - 15 November 2017

The NSTE Board of Directors is delighted to announce the appointment of Lynne Michel to the position of Temple Administrator. Effective 20 November 2017, Lynne will assume the position on a permanent part-time basis, reporting to the President.  

To this position, Lynne brings over 15 years' experience in a similar capacity, gained from her role as Office Administrator and Bookkeeper at Kehillat Masada Synagogue. In this role, Lynne was responsible for the administrative and bookkeeping functions, accounting and compliance management, liaison with the Synagogue and Board of Management, new member marketing initiatives, and community liaison. To her credit, Lynne implemented various accounting and computerised database systems and improved stakeholder engagement, thereby enhancing operational effectiveness. 

Additionally, Lynne has volunteered as a member of the Board of Management at Masada College for several years, assuming the lead role as Jewish Board of Deputies College representative, Enrolments Committee Co-Chair, and community liaison. She has also been involved in the new school uniform initiative and management of several fundraising activities. Over the last few years, Lynne has been contracting privately and working in the travel business. 

As Temple Administrator, Lynne will be responsible for governance, insurance and risk management, budgetary control, Board of Directors communication and reporting, project management of major fundraising programs and grant applications, engagement with members, external providers, local council and affiliated NSTE entities. Lynne will provide leadership and direction to the Office Team.

The Meah and Hebrew School will report to the NSTE Board of Directors Executive. The Apples and Honey Pre-School will continue report to their Executive.  

Please join us in welcoming Lynne to the NSTE family. We are looking forward to working with such a seasoned professional.

Mark Ginsburg
President

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NSTE Board Announcement - 30 October 2017

After two and a half years on the NSTE Board, I am sad to announce that Peter Sheldon is stepping down from his position due to time pressures. 
During his time on the Board, Peter has had a strong involvement in the Community Conversations initiative and leadership development opportunities within NSTE. In addition to his normal duties, Peter has also been the NSTE representative on the Apples & Honey Preschool Board of Directors. 

Peter has shared with me that it was an honour for him to have been part of our Board and to participate in our Community Conversations, and meeting and getting to know many more members of our remarkable community. He leaves the role feeling enriched from the experience. We wish him all the best with his future endeavours and will, no doubt, still see Peter at various upcoming events and programs at NSTE.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Geoffrey Wolf has joined the NSTE Board of Directors. Geoff and his family have enjoyed a lifelong association with NSTE, with his parents being founding members and Geoff meeting his wife, Jenny, in the early days of our youth groups. In later years, Geoff and Jenny married on our campus (incidentally it was the last wedding in the former Sanctuary, now occupied by the Preschool!), and they saw both their daughters attend the Preschool and experience their B’nei Mitzvah with us. 

Geoff’s background is in the hospitality and hotel industry and he is currently involved in the retirement and aged care sector.

Upon his appointment, Geoff said “I am honoured to join the Board of Directors and make a contribution to the organisation that has provided so much to my family and our community.”

Please join me in welcoming Geoff as our newest addition to the Board. Through Geoff’s business acumen, in-depth understanding of NSTE, and his passion for the sustainable future of our Progressive Community, we truly have a remarkable addition to the NSTE Board. 

 
Mark Ginsburg
President

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Rabbi Nicole's article in australian jewish news - rosh hashanah supplement

'Hope on the Horizon?'

Click on the image to enlarge

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Rabbi Nicole shows support to Marriage equality

I support marriage equality because of, not in spite of, my religion.

I went to university in Nashville, Tennessee—a town in America’s religiously conservative south, known as “the buckle of the Bible belt”—where many of my gay friends struggled with fears of being cut off and disowned by their families, harrassed by their classmates, and ridiculed or abandoned by friends, if they let it be known that they were gay. At an age when many were finding our life partners, my gay friends were imagining a future lived in falsehood, deprived of true companionship, or children, and that’s if they contemplated a future at all—some of them contemplated suicide.

None of them “chose” this life they’d been given. Those who believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, rather than an inherent sexual orientation, are mistaken. This mistake leads to judgment, discrimination, prejudice, hatred, violence, and other abhorrent practices.

My faith teaches in Genesis that God deemed “it is not good for man to be alone,” which teaches us that Torah supports loving, committed relationship as something we are all entitled to enjoy.

Our Progressive movement redefined the Jewish concept of marriage decades ago when we abandoned traditional wedding language and ritual related to acquisition—the groom acquiring the bride for a price, like property—in favour of a more egalitarian practice. So for us, in modern times, the defining features of the institution of marriage are the commitment to establish a home together and to support and nurture one another physically, financially, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. I believe that same-sex couples can make and keep these commitments just as faithfully as heterosexual couples.

Any commandments that came later in Torah follow the more fundamental belief in Genesis that everyone is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, meaning that our diversity reflects the great magnitude of God and that each individual is worthy of dignity. In later centuries, the Talmud affirmed the principle: gadol k’vod ha’briot she docheh lo ta’aseh—Human dignity supersedes any negative commandments (the “thou shalt nots”).

I am proud that my congregation’s leadership has issued statements in unanimous support of its rabbi conducting same sex commitment ceremonies and in support of marriage equality. Not all people of faith oppose marriage equality. I support it because of, not in spite of, my religious convictions.

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Union of Progressive Judaism Press Release

RE:  Progressive and Masorti Jewish View on the Upcoming Plebiscite in Australia

1 September 2017/10 Elul 5777

Judaism is guided by the belief that every human being is created "in the image of the divine," as it says in Genesis 1:27, “And God created humans in God’s own image; in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.”  

Alongside this basic principle, we recognise the call of Torah (The Jewish Bible) to pursue justice in an equitable manner” (Deuteronomy 16:20, "Justice, justice shall you pursue"), as well as the obligation to show respect and dignity to all people, kinsman and stranger alike (Leviticus 19:18, 33-34).

Therefore, we believe that every individual regardless of age, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation has equal rights and should be treated accordingly.  Regardless of circumstance or context, discrimination against any person, whether it arises from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred, is inconsistent with these fundamental beliefs. We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including the GLBTIQ community, for the stamp of the divine is present in each and every one of us.

We believe that two people who wish to join in lifelong union through a wedding ceremony should be able to do so without prejudice.  Rabbi Ettlinger believes “prejudice causes hurt and pain and in this case even more so when people only want to celebrate their love and so marriage equality and voting “yes” is essentially for communal harmony and civil rights.”  Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins added ““Religion’s mythic traditions should guide us to moral insight, and those insights in turn must be based in facts, evidence and commitment to equal rights in civic society."

On this basis, the rabbis of the Rabbinic Council of the Union for Progressive Judaism Moetza and its parent body the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ), along with the rabbis and lay leaders of Masorti Australasia support marriage equality and the rights and privileges therefore afforded.  

We encourage our members to vote YES.

Signed on behalf of our members:

Rabbi Kim Ettlinger – Chair of the Moetza:  Progressive Rabbinic Council of Australia, New Zealand and Asia –  kim.ettlinger@tbi.org.au; (03) 510 1488

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins – Chair of the Masorti (Conservative) Council of Australia  - jbkamins@emanuel.org.au; (02) 9328 7833

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17 August 2017

NSTE reaches out to Charlottesville shul

In response to the recent frightening and tragic events in Charlottesville, NSTE's rabbis and Board sent a letter of support and solidarity on behalf of our community over to Congregation Beth Israel this week.


Letter to Congregation Beth Israel

Mr Alan Zimmerman & Rabbi Gutherz
Congregation Beth Israel
301E, Jefferson St
Charlottesville
VA 22902
USA

Dear Mr Zimmerman and Rabbi Gutherz,

On behalf of the board, rabbis and congregants of North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE) in Sydney Australia, we wish to express our support to you and your community in Charlottesville.

Like all people of good conscience around the world, we were horrified by the images beamed from your city over the weekend and can only imagine the fear that you must have felt.

This was graphically brought to life for us in the article that you wrote for reformjudaism.org.  For many in our community it brought back collective memories of a time that we had all hoped was behind the Jewish people.  As you repeatedly wrote, we repeatedly shook our heads and exclaimed – “This is 2017 in the United States of America!”.

That said, we feel proud of how the CBI community demonstrated fortitude and courage in the face of such hate mongering and draw hope for a better tomorrow from the support that you received from members of the wider Charlottesville community.

Whilst the physical distance between our communities is great, we hope that you will draw strength from knowing that in spirit we stand beside you.  Chazak, Chazak V’nitchazeik - Be strong, be strong, and we will strengthen one another.

Wishing you L’ Shana Tova – may the new year bring better times.

With Love and Best Wishes,

Mark Ginsburg                                                                          Rabbi Nicole Roberts
President                                                                                      Senior Rabbi

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29 June 2017

Rabbinic Statement on Conversion Bill and Egalitarian Prayer Space at the Kotel

We - Rabbi Nicole Roberts and Rabbi Fred Morgan - add our voices to the impassioned outcry of our world partners standing for Jewish pluralism, in the face of this week’s decision by the Israeli government to: (1) freeze implementation of its 2016 agreement to build an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, and (2) support a Conversion Bill that would grant the Chief Rabbinate official authority over conversions, potentially impacting eligibility for citizenship under the Law of Return.  

We consider these decisions not only disappointing, but dangerous, and contrary to the ideals for which the State of Israel and Zionism have always stood. We pledge to work with our Israeli and international partners, who have each issued their own statements or resolutions this week expressing their dismay and outrage, including:

May justice and pluralism prevail in the land we love, call home, and pray for every Shabbat, and whose anthem we chant every Sunday morning with our Hebrew School children: li’hiot am chofshi b’artzeinu, eretz tzion virushalayim - “to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Rabbi Nicole Roberts
Rabbi Fred Morgan

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29 June 2017

FROM THE BOARD

The NSTE Board of Directors advises that following the completion of a thorough review of NSTE's operating revenues and expenditure, as was committed to at the recent 2017 Annual General Meeting, it has taken steps to mitigate what has been an ongoing operating loss over several years. These steps include making the role of General Manager redundant.

The Executive is working with Mark and the Office Team to transition towards a new model for day to day operations. Accordingly, it is with sadness that we will farewell Mark Zworestine (Zed) on 25 July 2017 when the General Manager role will cease to exist under a new operating structure currently being developed in consultation with our staff and key stakeholders, such as the Apples and Honey Preschool.

As a result of much of the work that Zed and his team have done over recent years, we are well positioned to make these changes. The General Manager role was a planned investment, created at a time when NSTE was in much need of strategic evolution and related shift in gears in process and productivity.

Zed has accomplished much since joining NSTE in October 2014 including:

  • Improving many aspects of our office infrastructure, building a cohesive office administration team, streamlining our processes, reducing the amount of effort needed to process our core accounting transactions, and successfully outsourcing our accounting, payroll and leave management functions

  • Successfully transitioning our Meah Hebrew and Religion School and maintaining a level of excellence that is highly regarded and respected by its students, families, and the Jewish Community. This included renovation of the classroom facility with the support of a $20,000 grant, introduction of the role of Education Director, implementation of a new curriculum and syllabus, and improving teacher satisfaction, capability and commitment.

  • Strengthening the operating and financial relationship with the Apples and Honey Preschool. Together with the change of the preschool to a long day care model, this has resulted in the preschool now paying a commercial rate for the use of NSTE's facilities and premises resulting in an increase in revenue to NSTE.
  • Identifying opportunities for membership growth and implementation of new processes to support member acquisition.
  • Building and strengthening of relationships with NSTE members, key stakeholders and partners.

"I will carry with me fantastic memories of my time at NSTE", said Zed. "It has been a privilege to work alongside my colleagues in the office as well as NSTE's board. My best wishes will always be with NSTE. This change in the operating structure is simply another step in the journey to achieve long-term sustainability".

Please join us in thanking Zed for his many contributions to our community. We look forward to celebrating Zed’s time with NSTE. Please stay tuned for more information in this regard.

Mark Ginsburg

President

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30 July 2015

JOINT RABBINIC STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY AND SAME SEX COMMITMENT CEREMONY OFFICIATION

The Moetzah (Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia, and New Zealand) recently reaffirmed its 2011 resolution in support of marriage equality.  As members of the Moetzah, we—Rabbi Robuck and Rabbi Roberts—stand in solidarity with, and take pride in, the Moetzah’s position on this issue.

While Australian law does not currently permit Ministers of Religion to marry couples of the same sex, many of our rabbinic colleagues the world over—both within and beyond our Progressive movement—have chosen to affirm the sacredness of loving, committed relationships between Jewish couples, regardless of gender, through officiation of commitment ceremonies.  We pledge to do the same.  We applaud the North Shore Temple Emanuel Board of Directors' 2008 resolution "removing any prohibition on rabbis performing same sex commitment ceremonies," which followed extensive consultation with the congregation at that time.

We have arrived at our position on marriage equality and determined to officiate at same sex commitment ceremonies following careful consideration of Jewish sources, both ancient and contemporary; through discussion with each other and our colleagues; through consultation with our current Board of Directors whose unanimous support we enjoy; through our individual life experiences; and through the searching of our own souls.  We invite you to do the same.  Should you seek our participation or wish guidance in your study and reflective process, our doors are always open.   

In the event that your personal view may differ from that reached by Rabbi Robuck, Rabbi Roberts, and our Board of Directors, be assured that it will be respected as one of many in our sacred community, a congregation in which every person is recognised as having been created b’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God.

Rabbi Gary J. Robuck

Rabbi Nicole K. Roberts