A new rabbi for the ARK Centre

July 19, 2019 by  
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Over 250 people including rabbis, members of State and Federal Parliaments, community leaders, ARK Centre members, donors and  friends and family have gathered to celebrate the induction of Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka Kaltmann as the ARK Centre Rabbi and Rebbetzin.

Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann and Josh Frydenberg

Gretchen Grodski introduced Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the member for Kooyong, the electorate in which the ARK Centre is located, who spoke warmly about the relevance and value of our Jewish community. In talking about rabbis and rebbetzins, he pointed to the importance of the role spiritual leaders play from birth through to death in the Jewish lifecycle and how he, not as a politician but as a Jew, is so excited to see what the future has in store for ARK Centre with Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka at the helm.

Michael Naphtali, co-founder of ARK Centre and MC acknowledged that as a growing ‘disruptive start-up’ ARK Centre had made some mistakes, learned a lot along the way and is now poised for an exciting next chapter.

He addressed the tougher issues, the ‘pil baheder’ (elephant in the room) as he put it – Orthodox conversion.

He acknowledged that some in the room, some in the community, had been offended by work that ARK Centre had done in the area. He was clear that causing offence was never the intention.  But he was resolute that working with like-minded colleagues to affect the very necessary change was nothing to ever apologise for. He thanked the community for their support and he shared how the success the community has already experienced will only grow, please G-d, as Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka continue and expand on what they have already achieved at ARK Centre.

Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn, Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann, Michael Naphtali

In performing the official induction, the president of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn spoke about Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka in glowing tones and wished them every success in their roles.

After being presented with a tallit and being formally inducted as Rabbi of ARK Centre, Rabbi Gabi delivered a powerful address that included some of his personal history and the guiding principle he is taking forward. He spoke about his aspiration to act as an example of love and inclusion and to address the rising issues of radicalisation and racial intolerance.

Guest speaker Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein from Ohr Torah Stone, Israel addressed Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka encouraging them to focus on the individual as much as the community and to help them find relevance and meaning in Judaism in today’s world.

Mr John Kennedy MP, Member for Hawthorn and representing the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Richard Wynn, spoke briefly about how pleased he was to be in the Synagogue and wished Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka every success in their new roles speaking a few words in Hebrew.

As the outgoing Senior Rabbi, and nowpart time musical director of ARK Centre, Rabbi Shneur Reti-Waks shared from his heart in his preferred way – through song.

Joan Lurie offered her words of thanks to Rabbi Shneur for all his efforts and all he brought to ARK Centre as Rabbi for nine years. Her words were truly heartfelt and moving as she summed up how we were all feeling.

As the evening came to a close after the recitation of the Prayer for Australia by Donna Kallenbach, the Prayer for Israel by David Mandel, the singing of the Australian and Israeli national anthems and davening Maariv.

Most of the speakers during the evening addressed, in one way or another, the divides that affect us as Jews, as Australians, as citizens of the world. In coming together to celebrate the beginning of the new era at ARK Centre, the community at large demonstrated relevance, meaning, mutual love and respect, tolerance and indeed excitement at all the future promise we see with Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Mushka.

Story written by Lisa Naphtali

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