Monday, September 25, 2023

Chabad helps Australian Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Ruth Hannah from Mallacoota has lived in this picturesque Australian coastal town for more than three decades.

Although she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, she is one of the few Jews in her community of 1,183 residents.

Known for its beaches and abundant wildlife, Mallacoota is located in a remote region of Australia with no major cities within a 5-hour drive. This location poses challenges to the celebration of Jewish holidays.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which addresses the needs of Jews around the world, has stepped in to support Hannah and other Jews scattered in remote areas of Australia. Based in Melbourne, Rabbi Menachem Aron and his wife, Rabbi Shevi Aron, coordinate Chabad of RARA (Regional and Rural Australia).

“People are looking for connection. You can see how much they need and value it. This is very pleasing,” commented Menachem Aron. “Living in these areas means not only being separated from the Jewish community, but also facing isolation and a lack of access to essentials such as food and medical care.”

Chabad of RARA sends packages containing food and supplies for Jewish holidays, such as honey cookies and shofars for Rosh Hashanah. In addition, itinerant rabbis travel thousands of miles to personally visit Jews. Young yeshiva students from all over the world also take part in these visits.

An example of these trips is the recent trip by Rabbis Menachem Manssouri and Mendel Junik, who visited remote places such as Darwin, where only 91 Jews live, according to the 2021 census. They then set off for Broome, traveling thousands of miles along the coast and reaching towns where there were no Jewish contacts.

Manssouri explained his method of locating Jews in places without an established Jewish community: “We go to the police station, the hospital and walk around the shops looking for clues. We were pretty successful with that.”

About 28% of Australia’s population lives in rural or remote areas, meaning there are approximately 10,000 Jews living in these areas. The Chabad movement continues to expand its global presence, and its focus on building Jewish communities in unusual places has proven effective, although not without controversy.

In Cairns, a remote Queensland town, the Jewish population grew from 100 before the pandemic to more than 2,000 today thanks to Chabad’s influence. Groote Eylandt, an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, even received a shofar in 2022, underscoring the movement’s commitment to connecting Jews in remote places.

“Australia is a huge country with a small population, only 25 million people,” Aron said. “There are more Jews in Boca Raton than in all of Australia. “We do not allow distance to be a barrier to sharing a Jewish connection.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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