Shut down Shule opens for a special Barmitzvah

September 11, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Sydney’s Strathfield Synagogue was shut down two years ago in the midst of a legal wrangle but opened its doors recently to celebrate a Barmitzvah.

On the Shabbat before Rosh Hashannah, Emanuel School student Ethan Moses celebrated his Barmitzvah at the synagogue.

Community stalwart Josie Lacey reports:

How very special to reopen the Synagogue for this occasion, where my children had their Batmitzvahs, where I taught at Cheder (Sunday School) and my husband Ian chaired the Board for the many years when we lived nearby.

This Barmitzvah was of a boy whose grandparents came to Strathfield from Bombay, India, with their two children. They came from an ancient community, the Bene Israel, that arrived some two thousand years ago to India after the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. They came from a country where antisemitism was unknown , where Jews were welcomed.

Jacqui, Roseanne and Judith today

Jacqui, Roseanne and Judith today

Jacqui, Roseanne and Judith then

Jacqui, Roseanne and Judith then



When my daughter Judith was eight years old, she came home from school quite excited to tell me that a new girl was in her scripture class, so I called Rabbi Tapoohi z’l to ask about the new family. At that time I was president of our young WIZO group (there was an old one as well) so I went to meet the newly arrived.

One day family from India and welcomed them to our community, and in no time they became a part of us, of WIZO and our synagogue. Dr Moses after some years became president of the shul, integrating his Sephardi customs with our Ashkenazi ones and best of all we became lifelong friends.

The Barmitzvah boys mother, my daughter and another school friend were Batmitzvah together, the three girls went on to study medicine, two as Palliative specialists, the third psychiatry. The three girls send their children to the same school, Emanuel, and yesterday they enjoyed the reunion in the synagogue which they loved, and the meaningful service conducted by the Rabbi and the Barmizvah’s grandfather (also a medical specialist) who chanted the Haftorah ( from the Tenach) with the Indian Jewish melody.

The officiating rabbi was Rabbi Chaim Ingram who with his wife and the Mashkiach stayed in the house the synagogue owns next door. It needed a lot of cleaning up after being left in an unspeakable condition.

The Strathfield community continues to maintain a kindergarten.



3 Responses to “Shut down Shule opens for a special Barmitzvah”
  1. P.A. Sarah says:

    I just recalled that the Strathfield Barmitzvah/Batmitzvah Talmud Torah Class with Jacqui Steiff?, Roseanne Moses and Judith Lacey in must have been in 1976 as I invited all the class to the Upsherinish (1st hair-cutting at age 3) of my second son, Menachem Mendel, at the Yeshivah – Sydney Talmudical College – which was 6th Tammuz/4th July, 1976. I have photos of the event.

  2. P.A. Sarah says:

    What naches to see three of my students from the Strathfield Talmud Torah Barmitzvah/Batmitzvah class I taught. I think this class was the one in 1977.

    I have many fond memories of Strathfield – beginning from when I was involved in IJY (Illawarra Jewish Youth) and we leaders from Bankstown, Illawarra, Parramatta and Strathfield met as JAY (Jewish Associated Youth) at Strathfield Schule – actually, I think it may have been in the new hall – from around early 1966 or late 1965.

    Also, as a young reporter for the “Australian Jewish Times” (then known my my maiden name as Pat Coleman) I reported on the opening of the new Isman Hall and Classrooms, as well as on the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial (published 4th March 1966, pp.1 & 3).

    My 3rd son, David, also attended the Yolande Kramer (Strathfield) Kindergarten in 1977, where he began an life-long friendship with Rabbi Mordecai Gutnick’s son who was in his class.

  3. Michael says:

    A lovely story of generational friendship, and kindred spirit, in the true tradition of Yiddishkeit and WIZO relationship.

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