Bringing Yiddishkeit to the ‘Gong
Wollongong received a good dose of Yiddishkeit over the weekend when the youthful Rabbis from Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia (RARA) organized a Shabbaton with the Wollongong Israeli/Jewish community known as Kibbutz Ex Volunteer Association (KEVA).
About 40 adults and children attended the Shabbat service and dinner on Friday night, which was lead by Rabbi Aryeh Knapp (Montreal), Rabbi Mendy Friedman (New York) and Zev Slavin (Sydney) and took place in a rented hall. Our Big Kitchen provided the fully kosher meal that consisted of traditional gefillte fish, chicken soup, kugel and much more. A guest mused: “the matzo ball soup tastes exactly like my mother used to make it”. After the benching, the Rabbis shared an array of energetic Shabbat songs with the congregation. The warm and joyful atmosphere reminded another guest of Shabbat at home in Israel.
A morning service was held the following day in a private garden in Wollongong where Tomer Libman celebrated his Bar Mitzvah with parents Lavy and Sabina and siblings Itai and Dalia. The Rabbis had brought a Sefer Torah from the Yeshiva Center in Sydney. The KEVA community was able to form a minyan and it is only the second time in at least 40 years that a Torah scroll was opened in Wollongong since the closure of its synagogue.
Shabbat was concluded with Minhah and Maariv followed by Havdalah at which Rabbi Mendy sang and Rabbi Aryheh played the guitar. One of the KEVA members said: “I couldn’t help but take the biggest sniff possible from the spice box as I wanted to hold on to the spiritual high state I had been in during Shabbat”. On view of the moon, people gathered outside where the Rabbis made a blessing for the new moon.
Chabad of RARA is committed to providing for the spiritual, emotional and material needs of Jewish people living away from Jewish centers. This is the third year that Chabad of RARA has organised a Shabbaton in Wollongong.