One shul, two minyans

July 2, 2017 by Henry Benjamin
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Sydney’s South Head Synagogue was open for business on Shabbat with many members attending a separate minyan being held at a nearby Moriah College campus.

James Hockroth        Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

The administrators shut the cash-strapped synagogue at lunchtime on Friday but reopened it when a group of supporters, keen to seek its continuation provided funds to allow its day-to-day operation. The shutdown lasted for less than an hour and the reopening was heralded by they synagogue embattled spiritual leader Rabbi Benzion Milecki,

Rabbi Benzion Milecki

In the meantime president James Hockroth told J-Wire: “There were 65 men at the Dover Minyan on Friday night and over 100 overall.  The numbers were similar on Saturday morning, with more women and children.  Services were warm and friendly.  We are all grateful to Moriah College and others who allowed us to hold services at their Hamakom Campus.

On Saturday our numbers would have been even higher but for the fact that some of our members attended the Sam Milner bar mitzvah that had been shifted from South Head to Mizrachi.  There was a nice impromptu Kiddush and many persons stayed behind to daven Mincha (several of our congregants are mourners).  A great many congregants wished me strength and told me to keep up the fight to keep South Head Synagogue in the hands of our community.”

The Dover Minyan is an impromptu minyan whose organisers made it clear that its doors are open to any members of the community irrespective of which shul they attend.

A South Head who joined in the Saturday morning told J-Wire that he counted fifteen men and woman.

But Rabbi Milecki told J-Wire: “In the end we had about 40 people at the shul. We often only have just a minyan to start and then as the morning continues,  more come. On Friday night we had about fifty. And even I was surprised as on Saturday night we had about twenty which was almost normal. We only got to send out our email about 90 minutes before Shabbos and our text didn’t go out until ten minutes before Shabbos.

The Friday night and Shabbos day services concluded with a kiddush in a warm atmosphere and on Shabbos afternoon a Seudah Shlishit was accompanied by singing and Divrei Torah.”


3 Responses to “One shul, two minyans”
  1. Halina Rubenstein says:

    When a shule under threat of closure due to financial difficulties can remain open due to the generosity of members of the community, a normal reaction from someone might be one of elation, even if there is much work to do to keep it running and despite a call for Rabbinical Renewal, which may be inevitable.

    Instead, within a couple of hours of the shule reopening, members receive an email from the President under the Shule’s email/letterhead entitled: “Hamakom Minyan is still ON – Vote with your feet!” and states, inter alia, “The Minyan at Hamakom is proceeding….for all those who call for the Rabbi’s retirement.”

    …and what about those who support South Head Shule, but do not call for the Rabbi’s retirement at this point? This is a clear message that they are not to be included in the minyan.

    Conveniently, a replacement email was sent out to all members by this same President, clarifying that the “Dover Minyan is an independent minyan which is not organised by South Head”. Unfortunately for the Board, the earlier divisive email gaffe is very telling.

    So rather than try and reunite a once strong community in the interest of ALL members, we see the Board representatives reduced to playing a numbers game, as if this is a schoolyard popularity contest. Shadenfreude indeed.

  2. John Temple says:

    Rabbi Milecki’s minyon attendance figures are so exaggerated. The community must know that he has lost virtually all his support base. He is entitled to financial entitlements but most members want rabbinic renewal. It is their Shule. A shule is not the property of any any rabbi. I’m sure Halacha supports this concept.

  3. Rodney Naumburger says:

    What spin! Reliable sources have advised that both on Friday night and Shabbat morning there were less than 20 people (men and women) attending the services at South Head. This included the Rabbi and his family! Actual members in attendance were only a handful!

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