Habayit: Melbourne home of Hebrew and Israeli culture

December 10, 2013 by Gabsy Debinski
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“Habayit’s” ‘Chanukat Habayit’ (house warming)has been  held at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre welcoming families from the Israeli and local Jewish Communities to celebrate the new centre for Hebrew and Israeli culture in Melbourne.

Enjoying the day

Enjoying the day

The event was hosted by “Habayit” Home of Hebrew and Israeli Culture, which is a project of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) run by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and supported by the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV).

The carnival-like function provided a platform for Israelis to collaborate and engage with the Melbourne Jewish community in a fun and exciting way.

Over 500 people, including many families with young children, gathered together to revel in Israeli culture, making for a buzzy, vibrant atmosphere. Food stalls serving up falafel, pita and hummus were a huge hit while the abundance of kids’ activities; a Hebrew puppet show, Hamsa and pita making, jumping castle and rock climbing wall made for the perfect day-out for the whole family.

Director of “Habayit,” Hallely Kimchi, said: “Habayit tries to bring the entire Jewish community together to celebrate Israeli culture. I love the fact we had representatives from all segments of our vast Jewish community; teenagers, the older generation, the younger generation, people who speak Hebrew and people who don’t speak Hebrew all coming together to enjoy our local talents. After all, this is the essence of “Habayit.”

Local talent commanded the stage, serenading the audience with Israeli music and inspiring the crowd to break out into Israeli dance.

A highlight of the event was a musical tribute to recently deceased Israeli music legend, Arik Einshtein. The crowd were given “shironim” (song books) so they could sing along to the iconic tunes “ani ve’ata” and “kol echad rotze.”

Philip Chester, ZFA President said: “This event was a wonderful opportunity for Israelis and the Melbourne Jewish community to come together to celebrate Israeli culture. For too long the Jewish and Israeli communities haven’t co-operated enough but this carnival provided the perfect setting for us all to come together and enjoy Israeli food, music, dancing and art. There was a great feeling of togetherness and this is something the ZFA together with “Habayit” hope to foster even more in the future.”

Melbourne is one of just three sites around the world chosen by the WZO to house “Habayit.” The other pilot Hebrew centres are in Hungary and the United States.

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