Great work by new rabbi

July 6, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Sydney’s The Great Synagogue has appointed a new Senior Rabbi to head up the Ministerial team and lead the congregation into the future.

The congregation has unanimously approved the recommendation of the Board to appoint Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton. 

Rabbi Ben Elton’s plans for the synagogue have preceded his arrival.

Rabbi Ben Elton

Rabbi Ben Elton

In the time between the recommendation of the Board and the vote of the members to approve the appointment, Rabbi Elton has already been involved in organising the future reintroduction of a Cheder for Primary School students not attending Jewish Day Schools, the introduction of extensive shiurim and the resumption of weekday services every morning. 

Rabbi Elton will take up his position on 14 July 2015 and, after a brief trip back to New York in August, will return to Sydney, with his wife Hinda, before the coming High Holy Days. 

President of The Great Synagogue, Justice Stephen Rothman, said the Board of the Shule was delighted with the appointment and looked forward to Rabbi Elton’s commencement. “We conducted a worldwide search for the right person for the Senior Rabbi position. There were ultimately a handful of Rabbis that were able to fill our unique requirements and we have appointed a young, personable, liberal, intelligent and modern Rabbi who can continue the modern orthodox traditions of The Great, whilst attending to the important and necessary changes to rejuvenate the Synagogue and prioritise service to its members, all of which will form part of the process, already commenced, of making The Great the centre of Jewish activity in the CBD.” 

Rabbi Elton is 34 years of age and is currently working as a Rabbinic Fellow and Director of Education at Lincoln Square Synagogue, Manhattan. He originates from Manchester, studied History at Cambridge University, has a doctorate (in Jewish History) from the University of London and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His Rabbinical ordination initially came from Rabbi Chaim Rappaport in London and his latest s’micha was from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. Rabbi Elton had a stellar career in the civil service while pursuing his doctoral work, before he began to study for the rabbinate. 

“I am honoured, delighted and humbled that The Great has chosen me to be their spiritual leader. I dedicate myself to the community and its religious and communal flourishing. Hinda and I are so excited to be joining this beautiful congregation. We hope that we can make a contribution towards further strengthening one of the great Jewish communities of the world”, Rabbi Elton said. 

Rabbi Elton also acknowledged his distinguished predecessors, the late Rabbis Falk and Porush, and Rabbis Apple and Lawrence, paying tribute to their work and example, aiming to live up to their tradition of service and scholarship. 

“The task of a Jewish religious leader is to increase our connection to our faith, our traditions and our communities to make Torah exciting and relevant and bring the sacred into our everyday lives. That is what I am committed to doing, to lead The Great Synagogue and all associated with it from strength to strength.” 

The Great Synagogue first held services in 1878 and its congregation is the oldest in Australia

There will be a formal installation and inauguration ceremony on 10 September 2015.



5 Responses to “Great work by new rabbi”
  1. victor grynberg says:

    Congratulations to the Great on what is undoubtedly an excellent appointment.
    My Manchester connections speak very highly of Rabbi Elton. From the leading Professor at JTS down.
    he will re-invigorate this much-loved building and help stop turning it into just a museum.

  2. Mark Gershov says:

    I wonder if the board of the Great realise that generally the semicha of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School isn’t recognised by the main Modern Orthodox Rabbinical organisation the RCA.

    Will Sydney’s Beth Din be more friendly?

    • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

      The RCA does not recognize.
      However he has a smichah from a Chabad Rabbi Chain Rapport in London.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Sounds like a promising appointment. Rabbi Ben Elton appears to have a comprehensive education at high level, which can only assist admirably in his efforts to guide Sydney’s Jews in the sacred and the spiritual, as well as Jewish tradition and community cohesion. Life experience and a wider education and work experience provide added dimension, which is so necessary for real and effective leadership.

  4. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    Much success to the new rabbi.
    Much mazel to the community.
    The young man seems well suited to the Great.

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