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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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Things to do Before You Die Without Setting Goals


New Years day is a time many people revise their resolutions and set goals for the coming year. Some have a list of things they would like to do before they die, often known as a ‘bucket list.’ Every year they select a handful of items from their list and try to get them done. Some few people are very successful in achieving the goals they set, while the vast majority end up setting the same goals year after year. Many will die having not done the things on their bucket list.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year has always been my time to set revise. To think about the past year and to brain storm ideas of what I’d like to achieve in the coming year. My birthday is shortly after Sukkot which comes roughly one month after Rosh Hashana. During this period of time between Rosh Hashana and my birthday, I’ll reflect on my goals. By the time my birthday comes around I’ve got a good idea of what I want to do.

Thus said, anytime is a good time to revise ones goals be it January first or February first. In fact, reviewing your goals every day is important to make sure you are well aware of them and to actively schedule in time to get them done.

Around a week ago a friend shared an idea with me which because of, I spent January first doing a complete revision of my goals. The idea shared was: ‘Don’t set goals. Implement life style changes!’

At first it sounded fairly simple, but after thinking it through, I realized this is the answer to achieving some of my goals that have been around for a long time.

For example, say you put on your goal list ‘Run a marathon.’ A year goes bye and you’ve not done it. Many will tell you it is because the goal was to big and not manageable. You need to break it down to say ‘Run 5km.,’ and from there, 10km, 20km etc.  I’ve tried this method in the past to various success. The problem I found with it, is that it often is not inspiring. You want to after all run a marathon not 5km.

With implementing lifestyle change, you could do the following. For the next 90 days. Walk/run for 30 minutes twice a week. This should be fairly easy. Then for 90 days walk/run 3 times per week for 45 minutes. Then for 90 days, walk run 4 times per week for 45 minutes. Then for 90 days run 4-5 time per week and you are now ready to run marathon!

A typical new years goal people set is to loose weight. This goal usually repeats its self year after year. Forget the goal and implement life style changes and you will automatically loose the weight. The idea is to do things for 90 days so that they become a habit and part of the way you live.

  • Drink water in the morning instead of coffee
  • Eat a piece of fruit for morning and afternoon snack instead of a cookies or chips
  • Use low fat milk or mayonnaise

If you make these kinds of changes to your lifestyle figure 3 changes in a n area of life you are trying to improve, you will be implementing 12 changes over the year. it is inevitable that the goal will be reached without having to think about it.

See here for ideas to put on your Jewish bucket list.


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Internationally renowned Adelaide Jewish artist Franz Kempf AM has been awarded the 2013 M.U.A. ‘Blake Prize for Human Justice’ for his oil painting ‘The Outrageous Has Become Commonplace’. Speaking at the annual Blake awards, Kempf observed the modern desensitization to human tragedy: “We are confronted on television every week by the most atrocious acts which flick on and flick off the television while people are sitting, some even eating breakfast and looking at it and I just find that too confronting for words”.

His painting aims to express the horror of the holocaust by depicting the bodies which were found in the camps and showing them on a tilting table, being discarded, to make the image more confronting. He notes “that atrocious act [the holocaust], now we see every day on television, from Pol Pot to Syria to Vietnam, everywhere. I hope to mirror that atrocity in a more confronting way”. Illuminating the tangled bodies is an ethereal glow of light from which the bodies are being cast away.

The painting was originally displayed in Adelaide as part of an extensive collection for Franz Kempf’s ‘Days of Masks and Riddles’ exhibition. Professor Sasha Grishin, Head of Art History at the Australian National University, has described Franz Kempf as one of our major contemporary artists, and observed:

”his work with its preoccupation with humanist themes and the eternal questions of faith and being appear timely and relevant for our times. Beautifully crafted and displaying a superb sense of visual intelligence, Franz Kempf’s paintings and graphics in this exhibition celebrate the human spirit and convey the deep conviction in the sacredness of human life”.

Accompanying his oil painting in each exhibition has been a quotation from Rev. John Bachman (1790-1874) a social activist, which mirrors the insight depicted in Kempf’s work:

‘The war is no longer declared but contrived. The outrageous has become commonplace.  So what has changed? We are now confronted by a disdain for diplomacy, and a reliance on military or paramilitary forces to settle disputes. With little concern for the innocent victims. Collateral damage?’

The Blake Society, named after the visionary artist and poet, William Blake, is a non-profit organization that implements and manages an annual Prize and Exhibition program for contemporary art and poetry exploring the themes of spirituality, religion and human justice.
The Blake Prize categories include the main Blake Prize, the Blake Prize for Human Justice (sponsored by the Maritime Union of Australia) and the Blake Poetry Prize (administered and managed in partnership with The NSW Writers’ Centre).

Further information:

Franz Kempf speaking at the award ceremony:

Blake Prize 2013 Human Justice Award

The Blake Society

Franz Kempf paintings and prints are available from BMG Art:

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The Baal Shem Tovs Birthday, Showing Where the Baal Shem Tov is Buried in Ukraine

Burial site of the Baal Shem Tov in Ukraine

The 18th of Elul is the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov is known as the founder of the Chassidic movement which started around 300 years ago. I have long been a fan of the Baal Shem Tovs teachings many which are widely accepted today amongst Jews though years ago were not the norm. Things like seeing divine providence in everything, though this was known in the past it was the Baal Shem Tov who made it tangible.

Seeing divine providence is a highlight of my travels. Many of my best travel stories which I enjoy telling over are about episodes of divine providence. A s Jews we don’t believe in coincidence, rather, it is G-d who is directing every single things that takes place in our universe.

It is interesting, because it was with divine providence that I ended p visiting the Ukraine a few years ago and subsequently the burial site of the Baal Shem Tov. It is a bit of a story which I’ll need to type up some other time, but for now I just wanted to share a photo of the burial site and remind everyone to celebrate the founder of Chassidt. And the best way to do it is of course through learning the teachings.


 Burial site of the Baal Shem Tov in Ukraine

Burial site of the Baal Shem Tov in Ukraine




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Two Weeks of Eating Only Raw Food and What it’s Like to be on a Raw Food Diet

Well I’ve made it two weeks eating only fresh raw fruit, nuts and vegetables. The longest I’ve ever done in the past was 10 days. Like in the past I’ve maintained exercise and living a normal life. I feel great, and thank G-d have plenty of energy. The only down side is that it takes a lot of time to eat on a raw food diet. Salad takes longer to chew than a chocolate bar, and considering how much salad I need to eat…

Well the good thing is that I can read and eat at the same time. I learned this from my father, who always studies Torah while eating breakfast. Now normally when we learn Torah we should recite the words as vocalising the holly Hebrew letters and words of Torah purify all of our body as explained in many Jewish sources. However reciting Torah aloud while eating is not possible. Therefore my father will read Torah based books in English.

I think I’ve taken on the same practice though not as diligently. I sometimes find it hard to eat and read at the same time. Instead I prefer watching some Jewish study lesson on the internet. There is no shortage of how much Torah there is out there to study.

So maybe the real benefit of this raw food diet I am doing is not entirely physical. Sure there is the increased energy, need for less sleep, clarity of mind and so on. However, perhaps it is all the time gained learning Torah while eating?

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