Our Story in The Courier

You can read Jessica Black’s story, “Oldest synagogue sees congregation resurge”, in The Courier, published on 22 October 2016.

Or here is the story in full below:

Oldest synagogue sees congregation resurge

By Jessica Black, 22 October 2016

Mainland Australia’s oldest synagogue opened its sukkah – a hut built for the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot – for the first time in 50 years on Saturday.

The 155-year-old synagogue has seen a “resurgence” in its congregation with many of Saturday’s attendees travelling from Melbourne, Ballarat Hebrew Congregation president John Abraham said.

He and the congregation’s secretary, Bernard Stone, attended the last service performed in the sukkah in 1966.

The service inside the sykkah had not been performed since because the congregation was so small, Mr Abraham said.

“We’ve had an increase in the frequency of our services and an increase in the people coming to the services and we’ve decided to use it.

“Having something in it (the sukkah) was a point of difference at that time and of course it’s very significant 50 years later.

“It’s part of the resurgence of the congregation.”

That last service was conducted by Mr Stone’s father.

Ballarat has not had an ordained minister since 1941, Mr Stone said.

“It was probably at a time when I didn’t think it would ever happen again. Until recently we
didn’t have many services, we just had high holy days,” he said.

Sukkot: Bernard Stone and John Abraham in the sukkah, a hut or booth where Jewish people celebrate the harvest festival Sukkot. Picture: Lachlan Bence.