“Maimonides got it wrong”

August 21, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull has officially opened new classrooms and staff room at Sydney’s Kesser Torah College…and found fault with one of Maimonides’s best-known teachings.

KTC president Meir Moss, Malcolm Turnbull and principal Rabbi Dr Noteh Glogauer

KTC president Meir Moss, Malcolm Turnbull and principal Rabbi Dr Noteh Glogauer       Photo: Giselle Haber

Following a tour of the new facilities, Turnbull said: “I am here as your local member and a friend of Kesser Torah.” He said that he was “very pleased that the Government was able to provide $600,000 for the newly refurbished classrooms and the staff room.”

Turnbull said that while he praised the government he had a special “Hooray” for the philanthropists who had donated funds for the project mentioning Westfield head Frank Lowy who was unable to attend.

He said that a dollar from the government was important but had the same buying power as a dollar from a friend. He commented that a dollar from a friend “comes with a very deeply personal love it so much more powerful”.

He added: “Philanthropy is so important. I know it is such an enormously important part of the Jewish tradition, Giving money to support a school like this is a very great mitzvah. It is very special because it comes from the donor’s heart not just from the wallet.”

He complimented the school’s principal Rabbi Dr Noteh Glogauer for “acknowledging the donors”.

He then added: “Far be it for me to contradict Ramban but I do disagree with the great Maimonides on a very important matter. When he set out to rank the different types of charity in order the best being where the donor is anonymous and the beneficiary is anonymous I have to say that, wise and great man that he clearly was, he had not done a lot of fund-raising. I have read much of Maimonides over the years and I don’t pretend to understand it all but this part struck me as being more theoretical than practical. I think that acknowledgement is incredibly important bit it doesn’t just encourage people to give..it just doesn’t reward the donor as a nice way of saying thank you but it also inspires others.”

He said that he always found it an inspiration to visit Jewish schools and said that his visit to the two  new classrooms summed it up…in one students were reading the Talmud and in the other in students were being taught computer science.  He said that the history of the Jewish people is a  history of learning adding: “Those boys reading the Talmud and discussing it…that conversation would have been going on for thousands of years…right through Jewish history. In the other classroom we were talking about computer science.”

Malcolm Turnbull tours a classroom Photo: Giselle Haber

Malcolm Turnbull tours a classroom Photo: Giselle Haber

Malcolm Turnbull said: “Jewish learning is at the sharpest edge of human knowledge.  I was recently talking to Avi Hasson, Israel’s Chief Scientist, with whom I had a one hour video hookup about innovation policies in Israel and Australia. You have that at one end and then you have the connection with the Torah and the Talmud right at the other. The thread of continuity is inspiring.”

KTC president Meir Moss publicly thanked the Lowy family for their support  since 2003 adding that patriarch Frank Lowy had come from a family “which treasured Jewish values and learning”.

Rabbi Glogauer told J-Wire: “We have three new classrooms in our Humanities wing and we have two others  one for design technology and music and the other for fine arts.”

With funds donated by the Vidor, Boyarski, Rose and Lowy families the school has new science facilities, four new classrooms and two early learning classrooms together with the staffroom which can accommodate all the school’s teaching staff. Other classrooms are underway.

There are close to 500 students at Kesser Torah College and 98 staff members.

Malcolm Turnbull may have thought that Maimonides got it wrong but two families do not agree. Members of each told J-Wire: “We do not want to be acknowledged publicly and prefer to remain anonymous.”



6 Responses to ““Maimonides got it wrong””
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    So well articulated, Otto. You cover all the complexities and nuances. I tended to focus on the very different understanding someone like Malcolm Turnbull would come to on such a topic.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat, I am as good as my interlocutors above whom reigns the eager eye of the shepherd coated in the skin of a merciless editorial jackal ( belonging to the Henricus Hyenus family ) .

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Whoever understands and practices the mitzvah of contributing to the strength of our community does the right thing, although considerations of which type of donation – anonymous or otherwise- could be a serious topic.

    I tend to agree that it is more useful to know the names of the donors, even if some elements of vanity may creep into it. The most important thing is that the community itself ( themselves) assure that the vanity that may come with the donation does not affect the quality of personalised, unwanted, excess of authority…
    At least both types are accepted, acceptable… ( would be nuts to refuse….)

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    We should welcome Malcolm Turnbull’s call for transparency in relation to those donating funds, if in regard to politics. And that’s what he is used to. The humility involved in donating anonymously, with no personal agenda as motivation in mind, is something he would not be accustomed to.

  4. Gordon Buchalter says:

    Donor anonymity still gets first prize and the highest honour for me.

  5. Serge Liberman says:

    Donor anonymity is neither worthier nor lesser than acknowledgement. This is wholly a matter of personal preference.

    At the core is the donation itself, regardless of who it came from.

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