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The Yeshivah – Beth Rivkah Colleges gala dinner, “Lighting the Way,” was held this past week at the Peninsula, Docklands with more than 700 people in attendance. Community Rabbis, major donors, parliamentary dignitaries and community members made up the crowd at the event which also hosted Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.
Rabbi Lau, who was formerly Chief Rabbi of Israel and currently is Chairman of Yad Vashem, spoke to the crowd about the importance of Jewish Education. Rabbi Lau asked us to remember the chilling last words of victims of the Holocaust, crying out to their children as the doors of the trains taking them to their death closed: “Gedank uz du bist a Yid,” – Remember that you are a Jew.” Rabbi Lau spoke about how the continuity of the Jewish People is directly related to our continued education, and not strength, money or intelligence.
Rabbi Lau reiterated his point by giving a call to action, begging us to make Jewish education available to every child, because if even one Jewish child is not afforded a Jewish education, it is the sin of the community. During his visit to Melbourne, Rabbi Lau visited the Gurewicz Early Learning Centre, a pre-school under the auspices of the Yeshivah Centre, and gave all the children a beautiful Bracha.
Guest speaker Morry Fraid, Chairman of the Spotlight Group, spoke warmly about his longstanding association with Yeshivah Beth Rivkah Colleges, dating back to when he was a Yeshivah College student himself. Morry recalled his grandfather making his children promise that they would ensure that their children had a Jewish education. Morry praised the schools for their continues dedication to a formal Jewish Education, and noted his pride in supporting the schools over so many decades saying, “there is no doubt that a strong Jewish education is key to a strong and engaged future Jewish community. Yeshivah Beth Rivkah Colleges is making a valuable contribution to the community.”
The dinner commemorated Rabbi Chaim New OBM, a longstanding Yeshivah executive member and active community member who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Rabbi Marcus Solomon QC gave a heartfelt tribute to Rabbi New, focusing on his passion and commitment to the Jewish people and Chabad. He spoke about Rabbi New’s unwavering commitment to the school, saying “The Yeshivah Centre occupied his mind, his heart and his soul in a state of perpetual motion, and not infrequently, agitation. Even the term 24/7 is too limiting to characterise Chaim’s commitment. It was unbridled, all-pervasive and entirely giving.”
Rabbi Solomon then presented Rabbi Dovid New, son of Rabbi Chaim New, with a plaque to be displayed in the Yeshivah Centre in his memory. Dovid accepted the plaque and spoke briefly about his father, mentioning again how important the Yeshivah Centre was to his father. “To my father, family was everything and the Yeshivah Centre is family. My father, together with my mother, taught my siblings and I so much, most importantly what it means to help others.”
Principal Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler thanked the attendees for the wonderful success the school has had, with over 1,300 students from all walks of life currently enrolled. “Being a top ranking
academic school is simply an incidental by product of our caring and encouraging teachers who provide our students with an exceptional learning environment.”
The Gala Dinner raised much needed funds for the YBR Capital program –constructing new wings to cater to the rapid enrolment growth at the Colleges, and the schools scholarship program, providing open entry to all students regardless of their ability to pay fees.