Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Adass Yisroel Melbourne Celebrates 50 Years
by Shlomo Boruch Abelesz

The Melbourne chareidi Kehilla Adass Yisroel celebrated 50 years since the official establishment of its mosdos hachinuch in 1952. It is the first time in the Kehilla's history that the members have allowed themselves such a `pat on the back' and it was a step taken only after much thought and debate.

The desire to publicly show hakoras hatov to the founders and pioneers of the community (both departed and those still with us) won over the concerns of the doubters. Indeed a beautiful and memorable evening was enjoyed by all.

Many visitors from overseas comment that the Melbourne Adass is the last of the true prewar-style kehillos anywhere today. This may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no doubt that communities like ours are not common.

Historically the Adass shul is a continuation of the Beis Hamedrash Beis Efrayim which was established around 1941 by ehrliche immigrants who were unhappy with the standards of the shuls they found in Melbourne at the time. In fact the constitution of Beis Efrayim, dated 1945, states that it is a constituent member of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (Kedassia).

However as we all know, a kehilla that is only a shul does not have much of a future. So when the post- Holocaust survivors began arriving in larger numbers, mainly Hungarian Jews whose background was the kehillos kedoshos where the uncompromising derech of the Chasam Sofer and his talmidim were the order of the day, they immediately took to reconstructing an independent kehilla with all the mosdos and services.

They soon purchased a house which was not only the shul, but also initially the talmud Torah and school, whilst in the back yard a mikveh taharoh was erected.

It took great sacrifice for them to pay for this -- as well as for a shochet, a melamed for their children and very shortly afterwards a rov to lead them.

Adass Yisroel today proudly boasts a shul complex with a large major beis haknesses, several botei midroshim, a beautiful large men's mikveh, a simchas hall which is also used every morning for a cheder boys' minyan. Shiurim -- including two Daf Yomi's -- are held there. A Kollel Baalei Batim for retired and elderly men has been operational for about 25 years. A weekly senior ladies group meets there every Tuesday. The highly successful Ovos Ubonim program which began a year ago takes place in the main shul every week with approximately 100 father and son pairs.

The mosdos hachinuch, now with over 500 children, are educating the third generation since their inception. The Kollel Beis Yosef, in the first floor of the shul complex, has been operational for well over a decade.

The Adass community was the first to build a mikveh taharoh south of the Yarra river where the vast majority of the Melbourne Jewish population moved after the war. To this day, all kosher milk in Australia is under Adass hashgocho.

The Kehilla established its own chevra kadisha almost immediately and a few years later purchased its own -- and the city's first totally Jewish -- cemetery.

The 480-page journal published in honor of the occasion has many articles, photographs and interesting documents of all eras. (Extra copies of the journal were printed and are available for a nominal fee.)

The demand for tickets for Wednesday night's celebration was quite overwhelming and unexpected and unfortunately many could not be accommodated. A total of 500 people enjoyed an evening reminiscing and listening to speakers talk about the history, as well as future, of Adass Yisroel.

Mr. Alex Rosenbaum, probably the oldest yungerman in the kehilla (having arrived here as a young boy) chaired the proceedings and spoke about his father, Reb Moshe Shmuel, who for decades was shochet, mohel, ba'al tefillah, baal koreh and filled half a dozen other positions, as required. Unfortunately, due to his health, he couldn't attend the evening. Rav Shimon Opman, former menahel of the chinuch mosdos and deputy rosh kollel gave an overview of both Melbourne Jewish and Adass history. He said that the desire for non-publicity of the kehilla and its activities was probably the cause for its success and noted that in a recently- published two volume history of Australian Jewry, our kehilla and all its associated institutions and decades of achievements merited a mere three-line mention!

The moro de'asra HaRav Beck then gave a short drosho where he mentioned that although the askonim who built the kehilla deserve much praise, we shouldn't forget the Yidden who simply came to shul daily and daven and learn Torah there, who also have a big zechus in the kiyum of the kehilla.

Presentations were made to a number of outstanding supporters of the Mosdos and short speeches were made by Mr. Y. Benedikt and Mr. N Koppel.

The guest speaker, HaRav Chaim Kaufman, a rosh yeshiva of the Gateshead Yeshiva Ketana, electrified the audience with his masterful drosho. He mentioned the similarities of the Gateshead Kehilloh in the UK and the Melbourne Adass Yisroel kehillos, in that they both include only shomrei Torah umitzvos and are run under the authority of a single Rov. HaRav Kaufman stressed the importance of submitting oneself to the guidance and leadership of the gedolim, and specifically the moro de'asra.

Following bentching, a professionally produced presentation showing historical scenes and current Kehilla establishments was screened.

Following the presentation, divrei brocho were delivered via a video hookup by the kehilla's first rov, HaRav Y. Y. Neumann, now rov of Belz in Montreal, and the previous Adass Rov, HaRav E. Ashkenazi, now rov of Seagate, NY.

It was an evening of true Kiddush Hashem, of heimishe Yidden in this far corner of the world proud of being part of the worldwide network of Toradike Kehillos, rebuilt from scratch by a group of survivors.


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