Brisbane’s non-orthodox congregations merge

August 26, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Brisbane’s two major non-orthodox communities have reunited following 10 years of separation.

Brisbane’s two major non-orthodox communities have reunited following 10 years of separation.

Beit Knesset Shalom and Brisbane Progressive Jewish Congregation (BPJC or Beit Or) officially joined forces following a merger agreement was announced to their individual congregations.

The new congregation will be known as Beit Or v’ Shalom, and will be based at the original Progressive shul (Temple Shalom) in Koolatah Street, Carina (previously Camp Hill).

Jason Steinberg, president of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies, the roof body of Queensland Jewry, said he was delighted to hear the two congregations had merged.

“The efforts shown by the two congregations and their leadership to merge is a great outcome for our relatively small Jewish community in Brisbane,” he said.

“The new merged progressive congregation demonstrates the importance of having a harmonious community with shared values.”

Beit Or president Hila Jacobi, who will serve as president of the reunified congregation until a new board is elected mid next year, said, “The reunification has come about after years of hard work. The will of the two congregations is there and the time is right. We look forward to a strong, inclusive and growing centre of Progressive Jewish learning and worship.”

BKS president Matt Goldman, who recently made Aliyah to Israel, and who with Ms Jacobi was instrumental in bringing about the reunification, said, “The merger will create a strong progressive community centre in Brisbane which will further strengthen the wider Brisbane Jewish community. We can now look forward to a lively, united and growing congregation.”

The split came about nearly 10 years ago because of ideological differences between two groups in the original BKS community, when some members of the board took a more Conservative direction, as well as other leadership issues.

Said Union of Progressive Judaism president Roger Mendelson, “The UPJ is delighted that after 10 difficult years, Beit Or and Beit Knesset Shalom have agreed to merge. This is wonderful news for the Jewish community in Brisbane, including the Orthodox, as it will strengthen the whole community.”

He said the UPJ “especially acknowledges the wisdom and drive shown by both boards and their presidents.”

Brisbane has one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the UPJ region, which covers Australia, NZ and Asia.

A cheder has already started meeting at the Carina shul grounds with around 30 children involved.

The merging communities are now awaiting final approval from the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, which is expect to come in the next few weeks.


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