Celebration of our 160th anniversary

bhc jn2

From The Australian Jewish News, 26 February, 2021

Read The Australian Jewish News story, 12 March, 2021, about Ballarat’s 160th anniversary here

Annual general meeting 2020

The annual general meeting of Ballarat Hebrew Congregation Inc, on Sunday, 22 November, 2020, resulted in the election of:
John Abraham, president; Carol  Hughes, vice-president; Harry Cook, treasurer; Michelle Challis, secretary; board members Bernard Stone, Patrice Braun, and Malcolm Brown.


Greetings to all

I do hope everyone is keeping good health and wellbeing, and that somehow you were able to celebrate Pesach.

The very first stages of our restoration project have happened. The geotechnical report, and the arborist’s activities have been completed.

Our beautiful Canary Island pine has been carefully pruned and looks fantastic. The arborist reports that it is in excellent condition, and good for at least another 50 years.

The plaque on the Canary Island pine tree.
The plaque on the Canary Island pine tree.

This tree has been heritage listed for a number of years, but right now it has been nominated as a finalist in the National Trust’s “Tree of the Year”.

 You can vote for our tree by going to the website of Victorian National Trust “Tree of the Year”  https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/treeoftheyear/ and vote for it on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/NationalTrustVictoria/ and spread the word to your friends.

I have Spanish friends in isolation and, because this is a Canary Island pine, they are also going to vote for us online.

Stay positive and well.


John Abraham


Greetings to all

Times are difficult for all of us individually and the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation as a whole.

We needed to cancel our last Shabbat service, and we will not be able hold services in April and May. Please check our website for further news.

Our special general meeting on 29 March was postponed to 5 April and will be held online for the first time. Big adjustments for all of us.

I want to wish everyone good health, and considering our demographic, ask you all to be kind to yourselves, make good safe decisions, and look after yourselves wisely and well.

Our nurses and doctors go to work to keep you safe. Stay at home to keep us all safe.

We will return to shul as soon as it is safe for our community.

John Abraham

Refurbishment at Ballarat

The Australian Jewish News
March 2, 2020

BALLARAT Shule has been awarded a matching grant of $107,000 by the Victorian government for repairs and maintenance to preserve the structural, aesthetic and cultural integrity and values of the historic synagogue.
Synagogue president John Abraham said that apart from matching the grant amount, the shule plans to raise a total of $500,000 for the conservation project.
The grant is part of the state government’s Living Heritage program overseen by the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning, to fund the exterior works, including maintenance works on a 150-year-old Canary pine at the front of the shule.
“Furthermore, BHC Inc will need to raise funds required for the interior works to the shule, as well as a contingency amount to invest for ongoing and future repair and maintenance, and also ultimately the Paul Simon Hall, which in due course will become the subject of a heritage listing application,” said Abraham.
Ballarat Shule, which was built and consecrated in 1861, underwent major renovations in 1866, 1878 and 1903. Extensive restoration work was done in the centennial year of 1961, then in the 1970s, and the shule was recognised by the National Trust in 1974. Further restoration occurred on the 150th anniversary in 2011.
Former Labor MP Marsha Thomson tweeted: “This is great news. It is the oldest functioning synagogue on mainland Australia and should be restored.”

See the story at this link.

Nathan Mond (Natan Meir)

It is with deep regret we express our condolences to the Mond family at the untimely passing of Ballarat Hebrew Congregation member and J-AIR station presenter Nathan Mond.

Nathan was passionate supporter of the BHC and often led shul services under the guidance of Max Lasky. He was co-host with Gary Mallin and Max Lasky on J-AIR’s TenKradius, and other programs.

Nathan was always available for the road trip to Ballarat for Shabbos or yomim tovim, and he passionately advocated Yiddishkeit in the goldfields and Melbourne. He was dedicated to J-AIR and forged relationships with Israeli and North America radio presenters.

May his memory be a blessing.

A video of his eulogy, delivered by his niece, Ilana Weinman, can be seen here


Nathan Mond.


Mond honour

J-AIR has presented Morris Mond with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of the exceptional, unsung work his late brother Nathan did over many years for Australia’s only Jewish radio station J-AIR. Morris is pictured receiving the certificate from his co-hosts on the TenKradius program Gary Mallin and Max Lasky. Nathan is sadly missed by his many friends and colleagues at J-AIR.


Nathan’s community involvement has been recognised at many Melbourne functions: a band concert and the dedication of plaques in his honour, for example. For more details, click on this link to the Facebook group, J-Air.

International recognition

“The gold is long gone, but here at the far fringes of the diaspora, on a recent Shabbat morning, the two dozen worshippers who sit shoulder to shoulder in the pews of Shearith Yisroel seem determined to live up to their synagogue’s name: ‘Remnant of Israel.’ “

These words form part of a splendid story about Ballarat synagogue published on 24 January on Moment, a US internet site about Jews and Judaism founded by Elie Wiesel and Leonoard Fein.

Moment writer Mark Pinsky visited Ballarat last year and penned this story about “A Gold Rush Synagogue Hangs On Down Under”. You can read the full version here.

Pinsky is an Orlando-based journalist who writes about diaspora communities around the world.

UIA visit 2018

Bernard Stone and Avi Gurion were on hand recently to give a big group from the UIA a guided tour of the synagogue. BHC extends its thanks UIA members for their support.

UIA1 2018

UIA2 2018

UIA3 2018

UIA4 2018

Succoth 2018

BHC Succoth 2018

About 25 worshippers attended Shabbos chol hamoed Succoth at the shul, followed by a kiddush and shiur in the succah.


rodalsRodals ride into town

On the last leg of his goldfields trek from Bendigo and surrounding towns, Rabbi Yossi Rodal and his family spent last Shabbat (13 & 14 July) in Ballarat.
Rabbi Rodal and Cairns-based Rabbi Ari Rubin recently featured in the acclaimed and
fascinating documentary Outback Rabbis on SBS.
Commencing with a communal Shabbat dinner on Friday evening in Golden Point, the Rodals next morning visited the historic Ballarat shul, where about 35 worshippers had assembled for the monthly Oneg Shabbat service.
We were honoured with Kriyat HaTorah by Rabbi Rodal, in addition to his talk about his shaliach experiences.
Rebbetzin Malki Rodal later spoke at the kiddush and said she had a warm, friendly, heimishe feeling as soon as she stepped into the shul.
We were delighted to hear from her about some of the quirky and interesting aspects in the making of the documentary.
Kol Hakavod to the Rodals and to all shluchim of Chabad of RARA.
They do great work ,”digging deep” in the goldfields and the outback, reconnecting Jews and rekindling their Yiddishkeit.
Hazak boruch.
May you be strong and blessed.
Max Lasky

Above: Rabbi Yossi Rodal and Rebbetzin Malki Rodal. Photo courtesy The Australian.


BHC 17DEC17.pdf

Nitza and Shimshon Marom, of Melbourne, were given the honour of lighting the Menorah on the sixth night of Chanukah at the Ballarat shul on Sunday (17 December). Some 30 people attended the shul’s mincha service, candle lighting and festive meal in the Paul Simon Hall. Visitors included people from Ballarat, Clunes, Colac and Melbourne. 



At our monthly Oneg Shabbat service on Saturday, 11 November, we were privileged to have Mark Pinsky, an American Jewish journalist/author, as guest speaker.

Pinsky often writes about his explorations of fringe Jewish communities in the diaspora, for The Jewish Daily Forward in New York, The Tablet and Moment magazine.

Pinsky was a civilian volunteer in the 1967 Six-Day War with the IDF, in El Arish, Sinai. He served with Jewish Australian volunteers.

His website can be reached here.


Ballarat Heritage Weekend, 27-28 May

See the Ballarat Courier’s coverage of events at the shul at this link (and a lovely photo of Bernard Stone and John Abraham).

About 350 people visited the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation shul during the Ballarat Heritage weekend.  The shul was open from 10am to 3.30pm on Sunday. President John Abraham gave talks to visitors at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. A big shout out to Avi Gurion, Jono Vandor and Max Lasky who helped out with security during the day. The temperature hovered around nine degrees during the talks, but John’s words of wisdom helped cheer and warm the audiences.

BHC Heritage 5 BHC Heritage 2

BHC Heritage 3

 BHC Heritage 1BHC Heritage 4

The Australian Jewish News, 12 May 2017

Ballarat and St Kilda shuls held a joint Shabbat service on 29 April. The service was featured in a picture-story, Around the Shuls, in the Jewish News in early May. Pictured below are Ballarat ba’al koreh Max Lasky and St Kilda rabbi Yaakov Glasman. Ballarat and St Kilda celebrated the “Ballarat Shabbat” (Parshah Tazria-Metzora) at Charnwood Grove, St Kilda, shul. The service featured chazzan Brett Kaye and the St Kilda Shul choir.

Max Lasky and Rabbi Yaakov Glasman

Purim: Sunday, 12 March, 2017

Some 65 people attended Ballarat Hebrew Congregation’s reading of the Megillah on Sunday, 12 March. The reading was held in conjunction with Jewish radio station J-AIR and interfaith program Tikkun Olam, hosted by Abe.

Visitors in their fancy dress came from as far away as Torquay, Melbourne, Ballarat, Hepburn Springs and Clunes.

The reading of the Megillah by Ami Even-Chaim was broadcast live on J-AIR and streamed on the internet from 5.30pm to 6pm.

Later, in the evening (from 9pm to 10pm), Abe broadcast Tikkun Olam live from the Paul Simon Hall.

BHC 12mar17

Guests, members and visitors were addressed by BHC president John Abraham (pictured, below), who invited all to take part in a sumptuous Purim seudah in the Paul Simon Hall.

JA 12mar17

As part of the Purim celebrations, the Australasian Guild of Town Criers publicly acknowledged David Goldman, of Hepburn Springs, who is believed to be the first Jewish town crier in Australia. David is the deputy town crier for the Hepburn Shire.

BHC3 12mar17BHC2 12mar17

Monday, 26 December, 2016

Ballarat Hebrew Congregation’s Chanukah soiree was held at the home of the Gurions of Gordon and coincided with the affixing of a mezuzzah on their new home. Mazeltov to the Gurions. The mezzuzah service was led by Alan Jacobs. Max Lasky led the lighting of the candles and Chanukah service.
Some 40 friends of BHC from the Ballarat district and Melbourne were in attendance.
Great company, great food, great time.



Avi and Lauren and their new mezuzzah.




Max and the menorah. Avi and neighbour Inna light the menorah.



Avi and Alan; and David, of Hepburn Springs, with his Chanukah cabaret.

John Abraham, Max Lasky and Bernard Stone during 2015's Chanukah service.
John Abraham, Max Lasky and Bernard Stone at 2015’s Chanukah service.

Watch video of 2015’s Menorah lighting in the Paul Simon Hall here