A 100th birthday present for Newtown Synagogue

October 8, 2019 by  
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Consecrated on 7 September 1919, Sydney’s Newtown Synagogue’s 100th anniversary was celebrated on Sunday with Sir Frank Lowy presenting a magnificent new Sefer Torah donated by himself and Lady Shirley Lowy memory of Sir Frank’s parents Hugo and Ilona Lowy.

Frank Lowy congratulates the sofer Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Retamal completing the Torah

Frank Lowy and Wolfie Pizem  parade the Torah

A  crowd gathered in Hollis Park, where underneath the synagogue’s vintage velvet-covered chuppah the final letters of the Torah were completed by Board Members and Donors to the Synagogue.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Retamal is Australia’s newest Sofer who recently received his certification in USA returning to Australia to work with Rabbi Eli Gutnick in Melbourne. The Newton Sefer Torah is the first launches his career although most of the scroll was written in Israel.

The synagogue is the second oldest in Sydney.
Sir Frank Lowy, Synagogue President Wolfie Pizem and Rabbi Eli Feldman headed a large procession of Rabbis, members of Newtown Synagogue, and the wider Sydney Jewish community, carrying the Sefer Torah to Georgina Street, with singing all the way led by the Central Synagogue choir together with Cantors Shimon Farkas and Rabbi Yehuda Niasoff.
There was dancing in front of the synagogue’s classic façade, which had been decorated by large flags of Australia and of Israel. A black marble commemorative stone was unveiled by Sir Frank.
Video by Richard Wainstein
The dancing continued inside the Synagogue with the Hakafot around the Bima led by Rabbi Pinchus Feldman and more than 20 Rabbis from throughout Sydney.
“This is day that Hashem has made; we shall exult and rejoice in it”, declared Rabbi Eli Feldman from the pulpit, to the congregation filling the pews which included interstate and overseas guests including the shule’s past Rebbetzins Tamar Rosenthal and Shani Cohen, who had travelled for the occasion from Melbourne and Toronto.
Sir Frank’s abiding commitment to Yiddishkeit was attested to in an introduction given by Rabbi Levi Wolff of Central Synagogue.

Newtown’s Rabbi Eli Feldman, president Wolfie Pizem, Sir Frank Lowy and the Central’s Rabbi Levi Wolff

Sir Frank, in an impromptu speech, spoke movingly of his parents Hugo and Ilona Lowy, in whose memory the Torah is dedicated. “This synagogue is a jewel, here in Newtown”, said Sir Frank, “I have been to a few ceremonies of this kind, but this one tops them all.”

Synagogue President Mr Wolfie Pizem spoke emotionally about the rich history of the Synagogue including his own Barmitzvah there 80 years ago and the exciting future plans to upgrade the Synagogue facilities. He appealed to the community to help fund those plans.
Story:  Lachlan Menzies   Photos:  Richard Wainstein

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