The Kollel Beis HaTalmud Yehudah Fishman Institute in Melbourne, Australia recently celebrated its eighteenth anniversary.
The Kollel was founded in 1981 by a group of ten yungerleit and their families, led by roshei hakollel Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz and Rabbi Binyomin Ze'ev Wurtzburger. From this small beginning, the Kollel has developed into a vibrant beis medrash comprised of thirty full-time yungerleit. Some six hundred people pass through the Kollel each week, either to learn bechavrusa with the yungerleit or to attend one of the wide array of shiurim offered to the community.
Amongst its many activities, the Kollel also engages in outreach and in family counselling and runs popular weekend seminars in country locations.
The large number of people who attended the gala dinner marking the event represented a cross-section of the entire local community.
The atmosphere at the dinner was one of excitement and of great accomplishment. The dinner was graced by the presence of Rabbi Chaim Gutnick, who was the guest of honor. Rabbi Gutnick is the rav of the Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation and president of the Orthodox Rabbinical Association of Australia. The dinner was also graced by the presence of Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, who was the guest speaker. Rabbi Feldman is rabbi emeritus of the Beth Jacob Hebrew Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as rav from 1952 until 1991.
The Kollel also published a sefer named Zichron Mordechai in memory of Reb Mordechai Kinderman, z"l to mark the event. The book contains chiddushim on masechtos the Kollel recently studied.
Mr. Menachem Casen, president of the Kollel, expressed his thanks to Hashem for allowing him as well as the other founding baalei batim to have accomplished so much in bringing Torah to the shores of Australia. He said that he felt the continuing success of the Kollel was certain testimony to the purity of the intentions of its founders.
Rabbi Binyomin Ze'ev Wurtzburger spoke of the aliya one experiences through Torah learning. He said that the full effect of learning can only be experienced if one appreciates the gadlus of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, the Nosein HaTorah. He thanked Rabbi Gutnick who had absorbed both of these traits in the great Lithuanian yeshivos and whose warmth, sagacity and encouragement had been so vital during the difficult days of the Kollel's founding. He also expressed his gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Gutnick for his encouragement and support of the Kollel over so many years.
Rabbi Chaim Gutnick was presented with a plaque by the rosh hakollel, Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz in recognition of his many decades of commitment to the Australian Jewish community. Rabbi Gutnick then gave an impassioned speech for there to be sholom among Klal Yisroel. He said that we must learn from the Holocaust to bury our personal differences for the greater good of the Jewish people.
Rosh hakollel Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz, then praised the beautiful kovod haTorah displayed in such an evening.
He introduced the guest speaker, Rabbi Feldman, as one who was great both personally and in the toldos that he had produced in the growth and establishment of a mikveh and of educational institutions in his community in Atlanta.
Rabbi Feldman spoke of the inspiration he had received in Melbourne and then proceeded to explain the vital significance represented by the evening's event. He said that the continuity of the Jewish people is currently not threatened by any malevolent external force, nor even by the activities of those who wish to lead the Jewish people away from Yiddishkeit from within. It is threatened by the sheer ignorance of the vast multitudes of Jews who know nothing at all of their heritage and of the Torah. Therefore, he explained, the Kollel, with its first class Torah learning is the cornerstone of Jewish continuity in Australia.