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Camping on Shabbat a Book on, How to: Build an Eruv, Bake Bread, go to the Toilet, and More

Camping on Shabbat

A Practical Guide to Camping Over Shabbat.

Camping on Shabbat requires extra preparation and effort, but is not that difficult once you get the hang of it – and Shabbat can be a highly rewarding experience when spent in nature. This book will show you how to properly prepare so as to avoid any compromise on Shabbat observance, and enjoy the experience with full peace of mind.
Some of what you will find in this book:

> How to plan your sleeping, eating, washing, and toilet areas
> The basics of building an Eruv around a campsite
> Methods of baking bread in the outdoors
…And much more!

Available for purchase here


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Adventuring Akiva Walks 2km to Celebrate His Second Birthday

Congratulations to Akiva for raising $180 for Clown Doctors and for actually walking 2.5 km. This is a fantastic accomplishment for a boy who has just turned two.

Walk Stats:

11:05 Start
11.46 Akiva says ‘up’ (meaning pick me up) I give him some food and he’s happy.
12:04 Break
12:12 walk
12:25 Finnish

Akiva's Birthday Cake

Akiva’s Birthday Cake

Two year old walks for Clown Doctors

Two year old walks for Clown Doctors

Akiva Walking

Akiva Walking

Akiva on his walk

Akiva on his walk


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Franz Kempf Donates Art to State Library of South Australia, Thinking on Paper

Franz KempfLast week we were blessed to have attended an art gallery opening at the State Library of South Australia. Franz Kempf graciously donated a number of works which the library is selling to raise money.

We are honoured to have such an acclaimed artist in our community. Franz asked me if I would speak at the opening, which I did, and I thought some of you may appreciate reading the speech.

There is one thing I did not mention in the speech though, and it is the number one thing that comes to mind whenever I think about Franz. Virtually, every Sabbath morning Franzis at the Synagogue, and more often than not, he is the first one there. It’s not always easy for him to come. He is obviously very busy finding time to create art, selling art, and setting up exhibitions, though he still makes the effort. Please G-d we hope to count him in the minyan for many more years to come.

Now for the speech…I’ve adapted it slightly….

Ladies and gentleman, honoured guests, Franz – I am grateful to be here today to celebrate with you this wonderful collection of art. After Franz asked me to share a few words, I sat down at the computer and I Googled, ‘What to say at an art gallery opening. The first thing that came up, was a blog article titled, ”7 things never to say at an art gallery’ which included:

How much just for the frame?

My nephew does similar work. He’s two.

Do you have this in medium?

I also realised that it has been some time since I’ve last been to an art opening and thought I should brush up on proper etiquette.  So I Googled, ‘Art gallery opening etiquette,’ and the first entry was, ‘Behavioural Blunders for Everyone.’ It had an in-depth list…

Don’t bring your pets

Don’t touch the art

Don’t get drunk or better yet, arrive drunk!

One of the things I like about Franz is he always has a joke. As a Rabbi, I’m pretty good at Jewish jokes, so I thought I should have a few Art jokes if I am going to an art opening. So I sat down at the computer again, and Googled, ‘Art Jokes’

Art Teacher: “The picture of the horse is good, but where is the wagon?”
Student: “The horse will draw it!”  (I didn’t find this one funny either!)

Question: How many visitors to an Art Gallery does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Two. One to do it and one to say “Huh! My four-year old could’ve done that!”

When it comes to appreciating art, we usually first have a relationship with the art and then if we are fortunate we get to meet the artist if they are around. However, for the most part we try to understand the artist by the work they’ve created. It was six months after I met Franz until I knew he was an artist, and yet a further six months until I saw any of his work. I got to know Franz first as a person; when I see Franz on a Saturdaymorning, impeccably dressed, holding hands with his wife Tamar, always with a smile, followed by a good word and something interesting to share, this is the most beautiful art.

What an artist can create is only a glimpse and a hint of who the artist is. But the more one knows of the artist the more we can appreciate and understand what they have created. Otherwise we are left speculating.

There are two aspects when it comes to art, 1) is what the artist is trying to tell us, 2) is what we think the artist is trying to tell us.…

            A little old lady was among a group at an art exhibition in a newly opened gallery.
Suddenly one contemporary painting caught her eye. What on earth, she inquired of the artist standing nearby, is that? He smiled condescendingly. That, my dear lady, is supposedto be a mother and her child. Well, then snapped the little old lady, Why isn’t it?

Each of us translates art differently; the way we see it depends on our way of life. We see things not by the way they are, rather by the way we are. The beauty in art is always in the eyes of the beholder. Art appreciation is unique for each individual yet there is still that universal force that brings us all together.

            My Grandmother, may she rest in peace, loved Claude Monet work. Every week I used to send her cards while she was alive and more often than not I would find cards depicting Monet work.  I understand why Grandma liked Monet. Anyone can look at a Monet and feel pleasant inside. Most of Monet’s works are bright and cheerful scenes that have a definite character and structure. The names subscribed to the paintings clearly illustrate what’s going on in them, and we can comfortably let ourself get lost in them.

Franz’s work is very different. Aside from perhaps some of his landscapes, his art is not designed to give us warm fuzzy feeling inside. Franz who takes the stance as a humanist, and spiritualist, wants the viewer to think, to question and as is the case with much spiritual based art, for the reader to interpret it in whichever way they choose.

There are a number of themes that run throughout Franz work, most of it is rarely literal or descriptive. The images tend to be more of a metaphor, where for the large part it is up to the viewer to decide what they want. Unlike the joke with the painting of the mother and her child, with Franz’s work you can choose to see only a mother, only a daughter, or neither of them.

The art we see here at this exhibition, is a collection of sketches. As Franz has expressed to me, sometimes the sketch is an end in itself, whilst at times it is like taking a note to capture an idea. Sometimes those ideas turn into paintings, as some of these sketches have. It is also possible that more of these sketches you are looking at will one day transform into paintings, and take on a new life of their own.

One of the most famous artists of all time Is Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo painted the ‘Mona Lisa’ which today is arguably the most viewed painting around. Leonardo, later in his life, is said to have regretted “never having completed a single work.”  He also said, “art is never finished, only abandoned.”

A work of art is constantly evolving, be it theatre, music and in our case drawings. As an individual, and or, as a society evolves their attitudes, feelings and beliefs change. And this is reflected back into the art of the time.

I’d like to conclude with a quote from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers which is a collection of wisdom from Jewish sages two thousand years ago.

“He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not upon you to complete the task, but you are not free to idle from it.

            A person’s job here in the world is never complete even when they take their last breath. So long as we are alive we must continue to contribute in making the world a better place, each person in his or her own unique way by expressing the gifts G-d has bestowed upon them.

Franz: We wish you and bless you may you go from strength to strength and continue to inspire, interest, and intrigue us for many more years to come.

Thank you.

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Adelaide Fringe Review and a Very un-Jewish Show: Come Heckle Christ

(I apologies to my frum readers about this post)

As you may know, the Adelaide Fringe festival is in full swing. There are hundreds of performers and shows to choose from . It truly is a remarkable and fun festival that brings a lot of business and life to Adelaide.

For those who know me, I have a background in circus, magic, and ventriloquism which I practiced throughout my high school years. I did many shows within Jewish communities around the world. Purim, Lag B’omer, Sukkot, and Chanukah you could probably find me juggling some fire torches somewhere entertaining a Jewish crowd.

On my first trip around Europe when I was seventeen years old, I traveled with a magic and juggling kit performing wherever I could.

I’ve often said that, If I were not a Rabbi I’d probably have become a performer traveling the world to places like the Adelaide Fringe festival and doing, some sort of comedy, juggling, magic, martial art performance.

I therefore have a lot of appreciation for the hundreds of performers who have worked hard and put together their  acts now showing in Adelaide. There are so many shows going on that it was hard for me to choose which ones to see. I like comedians but not the ones who use loads of foul language and talk about trash. Danny Bhoy who Rachel and I went to see last year, is my favorite comedian. If he swears in his show, it’s maybe only once or twice, and his comedy is clean.

Last night I went to see a Canadian comedian who did a 60 minute show. He was alright. I liked his presentation. He used foul language moderately, and most of his content was ‘kosher.’ On my way out of the venue I was surprised to see  several police officers, along with half dozen people holding sighs promoting salvation. The picketers were shouting things along the line, of, ‘Jesus loves you,’ ‘you can be saved,’ and ‘damnation will come.’ Along were also plenty of media personal with their big cameras waiting to see what would happen. It was almost as interesting as the show I had just seen except this one was free!

I guess I’ve not been keeping up with the Adelaide news (as not much really happens here) but anyway, a Melbourne comic; Josh Ladgrov, was doingt a show titled: ‘Come Heckle Christ.’ Ladgrove with his long brown hair and trimmed beard looks remarkably like what the West has decided Jesus looked like. He was doing a show, where dressesd as Jesus, he lets people ask him questions.

Not surprisingly this show has created lots of controversy. Some say it should be fine as a form of freedome of speech, while others claim it is poor taste to allow such a show as part of the Adelaide Fringe festival.

The reviews on the show seem to say that it is mostly in good taste and that there is no real negative portrayal, and besides it is the crowd that determines what is asked.

On the flip side, almost every performer at the fringe is jealous  of Ladgrove, because all his shows are sold out….No duh…thanks to all the publicity the people trying to remove the show gave him, everyone now wants to see it. The fringe guide has some 900 shows listed in it, and aside from a few fringe academics most people would not have even known the show to have existed, including myself.

I am happy though that no Christians decided to burn down any buildings or lynch people because of this and that the demonstrations have all been peaceful with mostly people holding picketing signs and or candles.

Though this does give me an idea…Maybe I can do a show next year, ‘Come Heckle Mosses!’



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Jewish Shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2014

The Adelaide Fringe has grown from its inception in 1960 to now being the largest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It runs for 24 days and night from Usually mid February to mid March. There are often over 900 events attracting more than 4,000 performers from around Australia and the world. It’s no wonder South Australia calls itself the ‘Festival State!’

This year I enjoyed looking through the program seeing what shows were on, and deciding which to see with the family. With my background in Juggling and magic, I like the street performers/buskers more than the organized shows. Last year we spent a few days watching the street performers.

This year I was trying to find if there were any Jewish Performers. There is one show ‘Bekitzur,’ which is a 25 minute dance. A collaboration of contemporary dancers from Luxembourg, Israel and Australia accompanied by live music from members of local Adelaide band ‘Swimming’. ‘Bekitzur,’ in Hebrew means ‘in short,’ which it is short for a show. However, they sold out all six shows and have had fantastic reviews. The girl behind it, Liat Kedem is from Adelaide and has spent the last year in Israel studying contemporary dance. Their last show was last night.

A Jewish comedian Sandy Gutman is here doing a bunch of shows. He will do a ONE-NIGHT-ONLY SPECIAL JEWISH ‘AUSTEN TAYSHUS’ SHOW as ‘AUSTEN TAYSHUS’ for JEWISH fans on SUNDAY 2ND MARCH AT 8PM. In the Wakefield Room QUALITY HOTEL – OLD ADELAIDE160 O’CONNELL STREET, NORTH ADELAIDE. Cost $43.   Adult show. 1 hour. Book and pay DIRECTLY TO THE HOTEL on 8267 5066 for this show.

Sandy is a vegetarian intellectual who grew up in an orthodox Jewish home in Sydney, the son of a Hasidic Holocaust survivor. At 14 he won the Australian Bible competition and competed at the finals in Israel, placing in the top 5. He later spent a few months studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva and went back to Israel to volunteer during the Yom Kippur War.

His Jewish show is a philosophical take on being Jewish, living in the diaspora in a gentile world, on Jewish pride, on maintaining a secure Israel and the Holocaust and its effect on his generation. The Jewish show toured Israel in 2010.

There are a number of other Jewish performers at the Fringe though not necessarily associated with any type of Jewish show like Jonathon Nosan, a contortionist who is in a cabaret.

Anyway, if anyone knows of any Jews either performing or have come to Adelaide to experience the Fringe, please send them our way so we can invite them for a meal.

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The Australian Association for Jewish Studies Conference in Adelaide Partial Review

The Australian Association for Jewish Studies conference took place in Adelaide this past Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Academics from around Australia and the world gathered to listen to, and share ideas on the subject of ‘Jews, Judaism and Hybridity.’

Some of the topics included were, ‘The Hebrew Bible and Hybridity,’ ‘Yiddish and Hybridity,’ and ‘Hybridity in the Diaspora.’ The session I enjoyed most was ‘Jews and China,’ with Mobo Gao as convener. Felix Patrikeeff, spoke on ‘The Jewish Communities, China and Australia, 1924-1969.’ Deborah Cao, presented on, ‘Popular Perceptions of Jews and Jewish Culture in Contemporary China.’

Many things about China have always fascinated me, and more recently is the Chinese attitude and understanding of the Jews. As Deborah Cao illustrated, how many Chinese believe that the Jews are smart and good at business. She drew many parallels between Jews and Chinese emphasizing similarities like, the importance of family, preserving culture, and respect for elders. Cao showed images of some of the books circulating the Chinese market, with titles like, ‘Talmudic Wisdom,’ ‘How to Raise your Children the Jewish way,’ and ‘Jewish Business Secrets.’

The most recent book Cao has written is about animal rights and the attitude and treatment of animals in China. This is one of the strong differences between Chinese and Jews. Any form of cruelty to animals is strictly prohibited in Judaism, where as in China it is often a non-issue. She hopes through her book and blog to educate Chinese people more in this area.

Another session I found interesting was, a session on Hybridity Among German Jews chaired by Lynn Arnold. Michael Abrahams-Sprod, presented ‘From Symbiosis to Racial Pollution: the Cases of Rassenschande (Racial Defilement) in Nazi Magdeburg.’ One thing I learned was how well organized the Germans were in their anti Semitism. Every step was calculated. On a few occasions in Rassenschande the people there thought to take their anti Semitism a few steps further than had been mandated by the central government office. They were reprimanded and ordered to fix the situations.

There were many more wonderful talks and some I’m still trying to figure out what the speaker was talking about. I find that when politicians speak, I realize they have said nothing, and when academics speak, I realize they have said a lot but I’m not sure what?

Overall it was a nice three days and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other Jews and non Jews who are involved in, and or interested in Jewish education.


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