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Galus Australis

How Frum is Frum enough?

By Articles, Galus Australis No Comments

Many posts and comments on these pages have had a go at some of the Orthodox Jewish institutions in Melbourne, such as those associated with kashrut certification and the Beth Din, for a variety of reasons. There is a recurring theme of people complaining that these organisations are maintaining standards that are unnecessarily stringent, and not consistent with those the people want (well, at least those people who choose to engage in the discussion). Whether…

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Church & State

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On these pages, Rachel Sacks-Davis accused the Orthodox Rabbinate of acting more like evangelical Christians when it came to responding to the gay marriage debate. The so-called “separation between church and state” is enshrined in section 116 of our constitution, which states: The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a…

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Natural Resources

By Blog, Galus Australis 2 Comments

Q. Why do the Irish have the potatoes and the Arabs have the oil?A. Because the Irish had first choice. Natural resources are both a blessing and a curse. While they can be a source of wealth and prosperity for a country, they are something that is obtained with relatively little effort. As such, they can invariably lead to laziness and complacency. Just have a look at rates of literacy and innovation in so-called “rich”…

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Footy Crunch Time, Shul Crunch Time

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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook: “The sounds of the Shofar can only mean one thing – the countdown is on to the impending footy finals. Go [nickname of AFL team that I can’t bear to put in writing]!” The relationship between AFL finals and the holiest days of the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – is paradoxical, incongruous, and uniquely Melbourne. Maybe people have mixed feelings about…

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Gossip Danger

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“I won’t let my child ever walk home alone again from school”, I heard a mother say, in the wake of the tragic abduction and murder of Leiby Kletzky in the supposedly safe Orthodox Jewish suburb of Boro Park in New York. An alarm and fear has descended upon a global community who until now collectively felt that “these things don’t happen in our neighbourhood”. The natural reaction of parents is to become extra protective….

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And you shall relate to your son

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והגדת לבנך – שמות  יג”ח And you shall relate to your son – Exodus 13:8  As Pesach approaches, preparations go into full swing, and my mind jumps around between where we will be eating the various meals, where my children will be spending Pesach, the various tasks I’m going to do, and all the other “baseline” stuff that sits in my head: work and study. Study has kept me busy this year, and as I move ever closer to…

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Kosher Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back

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The “kosher wars” have been reignited recently with the release by Rabbi Moshe Gutnick of The Kashrut Authority (I will refer to them as KA(Syd) to avoid ambiguity) of a statement regarding the standard of kashrut of Rabbi Rabi’s Kosher veYosher (KVY) at an establishment in Sydney. It should be noted that KVY is Melbourne-based, and KA(syd) has the closest thing to a monopoly on kashrut in Sydney. Indeed, the statement states that “[t]he appearance…

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I’m dreaming of a white …

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The chagim are spread widely across the calendar year, with the “major” ones like Pesach and the High Holydays falling usually around April and September. These correspond to the seasons of autumn and spring in Australia, and the reverse in the northern hemisphere. Since the weather is usually ambivalent during those times, and they are close to the equinox, the difference between the experiences in each hemisphere is not great. Chanukah, on the other hand, falls during…

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The Minyan Factory

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I’m visiting Israel very briefly, and again find myself enamoured with the “minyan factory” known as Shtiblach Katamon. It happens to be about five minutes walk from where I’m staying, which is very convenient indeed. Let me describe how it works: it’s a big house with about six rooms and a foyer/lobby. During busy times, a man stands in the foyer – I like to call him the traffic cop. He directs people to which room a minyan is…

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The Social Network – My Friend has a Friend

By Articles, Galus Australis No Comments

In the weekly portion of the same name (Numbers/Bamidbar 22), Balak, the king of Moab, commissions the gentile prophet Balaam to curse the Jews who are travelling through his land on their way to Israel. While Balaam plays along (and is happy to accept Balak’s money), ultimately he is unable to disobey God and at every attempt, instead of cursing them, confers upon them some of the most beautiful and prophetic blessings in the Chumash. In his third and final…

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