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Rosh Hashanah and the Circle of Life

Rosh Hashanah and the Circle of Life

As I sit here writing, the smell of sweet challah fills the room. Yes, the holiday season is here – let the baking begin!  Round challahs, circular pies, and sweet spherical apples abound in my kitchen this time of year.

Undoubtedly the sweets are one of the parts of Rosh Hashanah we all look forward to most.  After all, most of us have a sweet tooth – even if we don’t like to admit it!  The New Year just wouldn’t be as tasty without sweet raisin challahs, honey on apples, simmering tsimmes, and delicious desserts.

The symbolism of honeyed foods during our New Year’s celebration is obvious in the way we wish one another a sweet new year.  But our celebration of symbols goes much deeper than taste. We also have the visuals to consider.

So, why are our challahs round?  The simple answer is the same reason we eat round foods like lentils and eggs when we are mourning: to symbolize the circle of life.  Circles and cycles are a crucial part of our Jewish faith.

The secular world tends to view birth as the start and death as the end, full stop.  Similarly, each year is viewed as its own entity that begins at January 1st and ends at December 31st.  Judaism is different.  We view life as a cycle that simply goes around.  We don’t look at death as an ending so much as a new beginning – before we were born we were spiritual beings with no physical presence and after we die we return to that state.  Similarly, we do not view each New Year as the end of an old year so much as the return to the beginning of a new one.  It is a circle.

This is epitomized in our reading of the Torah.  As soon as we finish the Torah we immediately begin again.  The Torah is not just a novel that has a beginning and an end.  Once we read it we don’t put it down and say “Oh, that was a great read.”  No! We immediately start again.  The Torah is circular (even the shape of a scroll is round!), so that the end is just the start of beginning again.  Think about it – a bar mitzvah boy does not wait for Bereishit to start his reading of the Torah – a bar mitzvah boy begins reading the Torah right away, as soon as he becomes bar mitzvah.  The Torah is a circle and can be begun at any time!

The round challah at Rosh Hashanah symbolizes this life cycle.  Just as the seasons go round and round with no definite beginning and end, so too does Jewish life.  Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of another season and the round challah reminds us that we would like to continue to go round and round until we once again arrive at Rosh Hashanah again.

We would like very much to thank the Adelaide Jewish community who has been so lovely to us during this past year.  We are looking forward to celebrating the cycle of Jewish life with you again in 5775.

Chag sameach and shana tova!

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Israel Wine Bottle Challenge

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“Israel Needs Your Help”

Around the world anti-Semites are boycotting Israeli products. In Israel, rocket sirens disrupt work, negatively affecting businesses. Along the borders, soldiers continue to risk their life’s to fight terror and keep our land safe from those who wish to destroy us. Israel will survive this ordeal as it has with Gods help time and time again. Israel will be victorious. Israel will defeat her enemies. You ask, ‘what can you do?’ because you want to help. You can instantly make the path smother for those who fight and struggle.

Do you part to help.

1. Purchase a bottle of Israeli wine to use on Rosh Hashana.
2. Post a photo of the bottle, or you and the bottle together.
3. Nominate 3-5 people to take the challenge.

You have until September 24, 2014 to post a photo of the Israeli bottle of wine you are committing to drink on the Jewish New Year

Or else….

If you don’t buy a bottle of Israeli wine, you must give $18 to Tzedakah to one of the three following charities. We chose these charities because they are not as well known as some of the larger ones. The listed three charities are doing amazing work and every small contribution makes a noticeable difference.

LEKET Feed a Hungry Child

Serving as the country’s National Food Bank and largest food rescue network, Leket Israel works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity amongst the growing numbers of Israel’s poor. In 2013, with the help of over 50,000 volunteers, Leket Israel rescued and distributed 25 million lbs of produce andperishable goods, 1 million prepared meals, and 1.1 million (8,000/school day) volunteer prepared sandwiches to underprivileged children. Food, that would have otherwise gone to waste, was redistributed to hundreds of nonprofit partners caring for the needy. Leket Israel offers nutrition education, capacity building, and food safety projects to further assist our partners.

ISRAEL FREE LOAN Assist an Israeli Business

Communities throughout the country have been under rocket attack. Most prevalent, this has hit home for small businesses in the south, which have been under constant fire, causing businesses to work only part-time or close for the time being. These small businesses serve as the sole source of livelihood for the families who own them. The donations we receive from you will enable us to respond quickly and help them. In addition, every donation to IFLA is leveraged, as it is recycled and results in a growing “helping value” over time.


Yashar LaChayal brings soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces what they need when they need it. Yashar LaChayal has developed relationships with IDF commanders around the country, and therefore they are quick to contact our representatives when their units or individual soldiers are in need of assistance. But we do not wait to hear from them! Yashar LaChayal representatives are on the move, visiting IDF bases throughout Israel, on the borders and in remote locations, to see what the actual needs of our soldiers are. Once we determine what is lacking, we set out to fill the gap.




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It’s Tisha B’Av and I’m Scared

It’s Tisha B’Av and I’m Scared

This morning I woke up and the first thing I wanted was a nice, hot shower.  It’s the dead of winter and with extreme lows and our heating off, I’m freezing.  I have a cold.  A nice, hot shower would be the very best thing I can imagine right now. But no hot showers for me, no way!  Because as soon as the thought of a hot shower crossed my mind, the realization that Tisha B’Av starts tomorrow night hit me like a slap in the face.  Here we are in the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’Av – how can I even think of taking a pleasant hot shower now?

These past few weeks have been harrowing for me.  The war going on in Israel has placed an ice cold shard of fear in my heart.  Those are not just people living there! They are my family!  And they are under attack.  Tisha B’Av and the 3 week mourning period leading up to it has never been more real for me – except once.

It was actually exactly 7 years ago that I first met Rabbi Ben, during this same 9 day period leading up to Tisha B’Av.  I was traveling in Peru, only I hadn’t considered the Jewish calendar until after I’d booked my holiday there.  I had a tightly packed schedule and not much wiggle room.  I had to be in Lima on certain days and in Machu Picchu on one day in particular.  With chagrin I realized that erev Tisha B’Av was my one and only day to visit the world wonder.  I planned to visit the mountain’s cafe and guzzle as much water as I could hold just before sunset but alas, the shop was closed when I got there.

That Tisha B’Av was destined to be hard, as I didn’t have a meal or good drink beforehand, but had instead spent the entire day hiking from sunrise to sunset.  But that’s not what makes it stand out in my mind, oh no!  While hiking I had met a group of friendly Chileans and decided to travel back to Cuzco with them that night.  My hotel in Aguas Calientes had tried to cheat me and I didn’t want to stay there another night – better to travel straight back to Cuzco.

However, when we boarded the bus, it was immediately clear that the driver had been drinking. Heavily.  Many of the passengers complained but the bus lurched into motion anyway – with me on it! It was only then that I remembered with a shock that I was actually traveling on Tisha B’Av.  The bus swayed along a narrow road and as I looked out the window I could see straight down the side of a steep cliff.  The reality of my situation was that I was staring death in the face and I was terrified.  I began davening with more kavanah than I ever have in my entire life.  Tisha B’Av was upon us.  The tragedy of the Jewish people now became my tragedy personally and I could feel the fear of life and death that reminds us of our mourning for the Temple and all we have lost.

Fortunately my prayers were answered and as the bus lurched into the next town, the police stopped it (due to the banging on windows and screaming from passengers) and made the driver dry out before sending us on our way.  But I will never forget the feeling of abject fear as I realized this was no ordinary day. This was Tisha B’Av and it was, literally and figuratively, a black one.

Now more than ever we must recognize the reality of Tisha B’Av that we are facing. Is the timing of these terrorist attacks on our people a coincidence? Of course not.  It is Tisha B’Av! Time to wake up!  We are in a period of intense mourning now and we should feel that now more than ever.

It is Tisha B’Av and I’m scared. There are no two ways about it.  As the dreaded day draws nearer and I hear reports of soldiers killed (one whose wife gave birth just after he was killed, another who was engaged to be married in 3 months) and of a soldier kidnapped, I literally shiver.  If this is what happens to us in the 3 weeks, if this is what happens to us in the 9 days, what will happen to us when Tisha B’Av actually arrives?

What we must do – the ONLY thing we can do – is to increase our teshuva. Increase our prayers. Give extra tzedaka.  Work hard, so very hard, on rectifying the sin of sinas chinam that brought us to this point.  Remember, at the siege of Jerusalem it was not the Romans who defeated the Jews – it was the Jews who defeated the Jews. There was food and water enough for 7 years but it was destroyed by the Jews fighting one another.  Now that we are under siege again – this time in the form of all of Israel – we must not destroy ourselves by fighting one another.  Reach out, love your fellow Jews, and please show as much support for our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land as you possibly can!

Here are some ideas for some good charities if you want to give tzedaka:

Friends of the IDF - support the soldiers who protect us

Neve Yerushalayim – support women learning Torah

Aish HaTorah – support men and women learning Torah – support people worldwide learning Torah online

Karmey Chesed – support families and soldiers in need

Keren Hashviis – support farmers keeping Shmitta year in Israel (with rocket attacks harder than ever!)

If you are a US citizen, please contact your senators to thank them personally for their continued support of Israel! The US Senate recently approved additional funding for Iron Dome in Israel!  If we all write to express our gratitude for their support, they will give even more support!

Wishing you all an easy fast this Tish B’Av and praying that Hashem should have mercy on us and send us Moshiach soon!

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Lag Baomer Festival in Adelaide

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The 23rd Psalm of Pesach:

The 23rd Psalm of Pesach:
Pesach causes my hunger; I shall want bread.
It maketh me to give up my chometz:
It leadeth me to drink four cups of wine.
It cleaneth my house:
It leadeth me through the hagaddah for the seder’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Pesach,
I will fear no kitniyos: for matzah is with me;
My wine and my potato vodka they comfort me.
My mother preparest a table before me in the presence of mine family:
She anointest my head with schmaltz; my fourth cup runneth over.
Surely pizza and donuts shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of chometz for ever.
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Celebrating Purim in Adelaide, Australia 2014

Purim in AdleaidePurim started Saturday night with a party at the Rabbi’s home. The Megillah was read by Rabbi and then everyone sat down for some yummy hamantaschen baked by the Rebbetzin. A couple of visitors from Sydney also joined us.

Purim day we had a nice turnout at the shul for our program fromnoon to 3.00pm. People were having so much fun that it ran overtime and ended closer to 4.00pm.

The program started with hamantaschen baking. Supervised by the Rebbetzin, participants made hamantaschen with fillings of chocolate, marshmallow, peanut butter, jam and sometimes a collection of all four together! The hamantaschen were placed in the oven to bake and then everyone gathered in the shul to listen to the Megillah. Of course Rabbi had to tell a few corny Purim jokes prior to the reading like: “What is the difference between a telephone and Haman”. Answer: “Nothing. When we are finished with both of them we hang them up!”

After the megillah reading we had a collection of short Purim films shown on a big screen in a makeshift cinema on the stage. Special thanks to David Benveniste, for putting it all together. At this point, we should mention that David won first place again for best costume dressed as Ezio from the video game Assassin’s Creed.

By the time the Movie was done, Klee along with some helpers had set up a lovely Israeli lunch of pita, falafel, salad, and tabouli. Dessert was a potpourri of all the fresh hamantaschen out of the oven.

Then came the long awaited Juggling show by the great Benjini, who did some impressive juggling, a couple of magic tricks with plenty of jokes. If you were there, you’d have seen him perform the fastest juggling trick in the world, make a balloon worm, do card tricks, and turn an empty container into a tray of hamantashen!

The day continued with a Purim Seudah at the Rabbi’s home along with a second megillah reading that day for those who had missed the first one, or enjoyed it so much they wanted to hear it again, followed by lots of Rebbetzin’s delicious food, l’chaims and stories.

Thank you to all of you who participated in the great Mitzva of Matanot L’evyonim, giving charity to the poor on Purim. This Purim from the Adelaide Community we gave US$180 to Yad Eliezer ( and US$61 to Leket Israel ( Both organizations do tremendous work in bringing food to those who need it in Israel. The organizations are all well recognized and run mostly by volunteers. Check the links for more information.

Thank you all who participated and made our Purim.

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