MIZRACHI - YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
The Mizrachi Organisation in Melbourne was established in 1943 by a group of refugees who had been active in Mizrachi back in Europe. It is committed to the secure progress of Medinat Yisrael and the enhancement of Torah-true Judaism. The Organisation is particularly involved with the transmission of Religious Zionist philosophies to the younger generation formally through its educational institutions and informally through youth activities. Three of the Organisation’s main functions are Leibler Yavneh College, Beit Midrash Kollel Torah MiTzion and the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement.
At the core of the Mizrachi Organisation are its six batei knesset – five at The Eugen Yaacov Weiss Mizrachi Centre in Caulfield North and one at the Nicholas Slezak Campus of Leibler Yavneh College in Elsternwick – which cater for the needs of some 1,000 people. The Balaclava Road campus is bursting at the seams and considerable building development is required to meet our current and projected needs, with plans for such developments already in the pipelines.
Kollel Torah MiTzion, which is housed in our Naftali Herc Beit Midrash, is part of the world-wide Torah MiTzion program. It opened its doors in 1998 and is staffed by a Rosh Kollel and four post-Hesder students from Israel. The Kollel has become a vital part of Mizrachi, providing a much-needed learning centre for our members and particularly the young men and women who have spent a year or more studying in Israeli yeshivot and seminaries.
In addition, we have a very successful Midrashah for the women and young ladies of the community – the only one of its kind in Australia – in which the wife of the Rosh Kollel, together with our b’not Sherut, are particularly active.
Between our batei knesset, the Kollel and the Midrashah, we provide a comprehensive range of public shiurim and play host to many vibrant chevrutot each night of the week.
Mizrachi also administers Kosher Australia, the largest kashrut authority in Australasia providing hechsherim for local establishments and the production of foodstuffs for local and overseas markets. Kosher Australia works closely with the major kashrut authorities in Israel, the USA and the UK. The annual Australian Kosher Food Bulletin, its updates and the annual Pesach Bulletin are vital tools for Jewish consumers throughout Australia.
Chesed plays a big part in the life of our community. The Mizrachi Sick Visiting Society makes many visits to people in hospital or who are confined to their homes. We provide a service which makes available electric candles for patients in hospitals for Shabbat and chagim, and we also run a gemach to assist those in need of disability aids. Mizrachi Charity Funds provide cash grants and interest-free loans totalling around $140,000 annually to needy members of the community. Our active Hospitality Network ensures that visitors and others are hosted for Shabbatot and Yamim Tovim.
In conjunction with the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, Mizrachi established the current Eruv in Melbourne, and plays a major role in its continued maintenance. It is pleasing that the Eruv – the first in Australia – has been accepted by almost the entire observant community.
Leibler Yavneh College – which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary – provides around 700 students with a high quality curriculum of general studies combined with intensive limudei kodesh. Our students continue to attain outstanding results at VCE (Year 12) level. A high proportion of our graduates spend a year in Israel prior to commencing tertiary studies and College graduates provide leadership to student and other youth organisations.
Bnei Akiva, which was established in 1949, continues to flourish and is the largest Zionist youth group in Australia. The movement is very active, with high attendances every Shabbat, and it also runs very successful Winter and Summer Camps. The year-long post-high school Israel programs continue to be well-patronised and are regularly reviewed to ensure content and programming meet contemporary expectations. Mizrachi provides strong financial and logistical support to Bnei Akiva.
There is a very strong kesher between Mizrachi in Melbourne and Medinat Yisrael. Almost every Mizrachi family has children, siblings or other close relatives in Israel and there is continuous movement and interaction back and forth in spite of the vast physical distance. The constant flow of visitors and the ease of communication keeps us very well informed of everything that is happening there. It is not surprising, in view of this close bond, that so many of the Australian olim came from, and continue to come from, our Mizrachi community.
Both as an Organisation and through its members as individuals, Mizrachi plays a prominent role in the local community. The Religious Zionist hashkafa is promoted as widely as possible and Mizrachi is fully recognised as the voice of Religious Zionism in the community. The Mizrachi Centre is a powerhouse which interacts with most of Australian Jewry and we provide leadership and support to a wide range of communal endeavours. A Past President and Honorary Life Member, Dr Danny Lamm, is the current President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
We are actively involved in World Mizrachi activities with senior representation on the World Mizrachi Executive and maintain close contact with the Jerusalem office.
Dr Peter Kloot
Life Member and Past Executive Director
A PERSONAL HISTORY
For a detailed history of the Organisation, read 'A Personal History of Mizrachi in Melbourne' by Mizrachi life member and past General Secretary, Mr Michael Neuhauser:
Rabbi Abraham Firszt ז"ל
Rabbi Boruch Abaranok ז"ל
Rabbi Boruch Zaichyk
Rabbi Jack Simcha Cohen
Reverend Chaim Joffe ע"ה
Mr David Feiglin ע"ה
Mr Abraham Samuel Leibler ע"ה
Mr Joseph Feiglin ע"ה
Mr Mordechai Rich ע"ה
Mr Jacob Rich ע"ה
Mr Shimon Porgesz Lowinger ע"ה
Mr Ben Slonim OAM
Mr Julius Kraus ע"ה
Mr Bernie Pushett ע"ה
Mr Dovid Apfelbaum ע"ה
Mr Manfred Levy ע"ה
Mr Robert Fixler
Dr Danny Lamm
Mr Warren Zauer
Mr Malcolm Slonim ע"ה
Mr Sam Seigel
Dr Shlomi Menahem