Flying In Style

Flying to Israel from Perth Australia is no joke.

The most common route is via Hong Kong with an hour’s transit time, flying Cathay and El Al. If Cathay is late, you miss your connection!

Last week about 40 Jewish school kids from Perth were left stranded in Hong Kong when they missed this connection. The result: a 40 hour journey via Paris or Zurich.

As a Qantas Frequent Flyer, my route takes me on Emirates via Dubai to Istanbul where I can visit my cousin Mehmet Imre for a day, and then continue my journey on Turkish Airlines to Tel Aviv.

Mehmet - Eli

When economy is full in Emirates, they like to bump me up to Business Class. This is the second time in less than a month, the previous time being on the last day of May, flying from Warsaw to Dubai. When this involves an Emirates Airbus A380, one is in for a real treat!

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The upper deck bar is amazing and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Liqaa and Basem, both from Egypt, made sure I had a great 11 hour flight!

As the barista at the morning minyanim at CHABAD Noranda, it was fun standing behind this bar!

A couple of videos:



Talk in Israel & New KehilaLinks

If you are in the Herzlia, Israel area on Sunday night, 5 July, don’t miss this presentation at Beth Protea at 7:30pm:

Exploring our Roots: Back to the Shtetl


A virtual heritage tour and contemporary photographic journey to unlock the mysteries of Jewish life in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Discover how to share your family stories and cultural yiddishkeit.

For more details, visit:

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From JewishGen

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We are pleased to welcome the following webpages to JewishGen KehilaLinks

We thank the owners and webmasters of these webpages for creating fitting
memorials to these Kehilot (Jewish Communities) and for providing a
valuable resource for future generations of their descendants:

Druskininkai (Drosknik, Druskiniki), Lithuania
Created by Eli Rabinowitz

GOOD NEWS!  The following webpages were adopted:

Created by Joseph Rosin z”l (webmaster: Joel Alpert)
Adopted by Eli Rabinowitz

I have updated Birzh

Birzai (Birzh)

The others will follow:

Alytus (Olita)

Kaisiadorys (Koshedar)

Kapciamiestis (Kopcheve)

Klaipeda (Memel)

Kybartai (Kibart)

Marijampole (Mariampol)

Kudirkos Naumiestis (Naishtot)

Panevezys (Ponavesh)

Varena (Aran)

This is the full list of the 25 sites adopted:


Habonim Dror Southern Africa History Project

From Keren Setton

The HDSA Habonim Dror Southern African History Project aims to collect, archive and honour the history of Habonim Dror in Southern Africa since 1930.

hevet Salk at National Machane Somerset West 1957-8

The project has exciting  goals, including:

  •  a multi-media exhibition that will be permanently installed on the HDSA Onrus campsite, telling the history of HDSA and serving as an educational tool for the chanichim;
  • an online platform that will digitize and archive the history of HDSA, and connect ex-members from around the world; and
  • a coffee table book which will be published for HDSA’s 90th anniversary in 2020.

The organisers are appealling to ex-members of Habonim Dror Southern Africa to donate or loan precious memorabilia to the project so that they can digitize, index and protect HDSA’s history forever. These mementos will be stored on an online database in an easily accessible format, enabling members from all over the world to share and enjoy, as well as possibly being included in the coffee table book and permanent exhibition.

If you have photographs, vdeos, stories, articles, uniforms, t-shirts, interviews, publications or any other memorabilia related to HDSA that you would like to add to the History Project collection,  please contact Keren Setton at or .

Add your experiences of the movement to ensure that the richest version of the history of Habonim Dror Southern Africa is remembered.

Maddies on mifkad Alan, Ian, Mike, Denis, Jill, Alan D, Johnny I, Hilary, Jeff , Terry Machaneh 2000 Machaneh 1982 Machaneh 93 - 36 Machaneh 82 - 122 Machaneh 82 - 109 Machaneh 82 - 105  Machaneh 82 - 048 Machaneh 82 - 001  Habonim 1982 Habonim 1940's Habonim 1940's girls gedud Habonim 1930's Gedud photo  002 1st Hachsharah Balfouria '45 (Dot Sadowsky)
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1968 ONRUS  Selwyn Cokes Galleid, Dave Kaplan, Mike Witkin, Step

Pockets of Hope – A New Documentary

I would like to introduce you to  “Pockets of Hope”…
a documentary of hope beyond hate, music beyond tears…

View Mini Trailer:

From the press release:

“Everything I believe in life is about looking ahead; but without looking back, sometimes you can’t appreciate the beauty of looking forwards.” – Fay Sussman, introducing her performance of the Yiddish song “Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh” on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto… which she dedicated to the memory of 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust.

Even three generations after the Holocaust, many Jews have a deeply conflicted, even suspicious view of the Polish people… perhaps even more than towards the people of Germany itself.
The sheer scale of the murder that took place on Polish soil – with the active and undeniable collaboration of many Poles – speaks for itself. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka… just some the infamous death camps where 3 million Polish Jews met their deaths.

The tiniest remnants of that community survived and Australia has the largest population of such survivors, after Israel. Many of them – and their children – hold painful memories and still harbour anger toward Poland.

Against these stark facts – and the alarming current resurgence of European anti-Semitism – is the surprising discovery that Poland is one of the few countries in Europe now trying to reconcile with the history of horror on its home soil.

What then does one make of a tour of Jewish Australian musicians playing klezmer music in small Polish towns where entire Jewish communities were wiped out?

Amazing, inspiringly, this is exactly what singer Fay Sussman and her band, Klezmer Divas, did last year. And an extraordinary documentary – currently in the making – is set to tell the story.

Fay Sussman was born in Poland in 1946 and – until recently – vowed never to return. But overcoming her fears – and the anger she inherited – Fay decided to make this surreal pilgrimage as a gesture of hope and love.

Filmmakers Judy Menczel and Paul Green accompanied Fay and her band; what they recorded is both stunning and moving. In each town the musicians were greeted warmly – with standing ovations – by people who didn’t even realise Jews had ever existed in their towns… and were hungry to know more. She met with young local people preserving Jewish graves which lay forgotten in peoples’ backyards or recovering broken gravestones being used as building materials; campaigns to save a synagogue being turned into a shopping centre; moves to remove a public toilet built over a Jewish gravesite.

It’s a story that will move you and restore your faith in the human spirit.

The team behind “Pockets of Hope” (working title) is now seeking support to fund the making of the full feature documentary.

The film looks at the issue of reconciliation between Jews and Poles through the 3rd generation of young people “on both sides of the fence” as they try to come to terms with the horrors of the Holocaust – and make genuine moves towards peace and understanding.

“The film we aspire to make looks at the attempts by individuals to respect each other’s pain, reach out and move forward towards tolerance and healing,” says Judy Menczel. “Fay and her music deeply touch the people leading this new movement for truth and reconciliation. It is a microcosm of what can be achieved by individuals to somehow move forward after genocide as well as a lesson in how the young can respectfully and honestly deal with the traumas of the past.”

Our Jewish faith tells us that we cannot hold the children responsible for the sins of the parents,” says one holocaust survivor in the film.

“I don’t hate,” adds Fay. “My vision is that we change the cycle of hate so that the children of tomorrow have hope.”

Short (3 minute) preview of Pockets of Hope here;

Longer (6 minute) trailer here;


If you would like to help financially towards the completion of this film, please contact:
Judy Menczel, Producer:

The New Birzh Kehilalink

The Birzh ShtetLink has been upgraded to a KehilaLink

Birzh front.12.15 pm



  • the tribute to Joseph Rosin z”l by Joel Alpert
  • the report by Abel and Glenda Levitt on their recent visit
  • my photos from last month’s visit

I have four talks coming up:

Perth, Australia

Exploring our Roots

Beth Protea, Herzlia, Israel


IAJGS International Jewish Genealogical Conference, Jerusalem, Israel


Gitlin Library, Cape Town, South Africa


Limmud Oz Sydney has finished.

A most successful Festival of Jewish Ideas with 200 presenters over 2 ½ days.

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Limmud 15 1 Limmud 15 2

My bond with Atzalyno Gimnazija, a school in Kedainiai


The students take me on a multicultural tour of Kedainai, the last stop being the two former synagogue complex, one of only a handful in Lithuania. The centre is run by Rimantas Zirgulis, director of the Museum and includes a permanent Jewish display, one of the first towns in Lithuania to do so.

The video report on a Lithuanian TV channel with a synopsis in English by two of the students: Juste & Julija

Kedainiu Zinios 7:21 – 9:55 – meeting at our school
The English teacher Laima Ardavičienė surprises her students every single lesson. She is diversifying her lessons with various tasks and even guests.
Laima says, „ Last year I was working on a project and the main idea was to introduce different cultures to students. I found a video of Jewish weddings which reflected Jewish traditions. After watching this video, I asked the author if I was able to use it and I got shocked when he replied „ Laima, you can use it. By the way, you can be really surprised, but I‘m rooted in Kėdainiai“. The author of the video was our guest Eli Rabinowitz. It‘s the second time Eli Rabinowitz is visiting our school. Last year he was a participant in our project too, while students were learning about different communities in Kėdainiai. Meetings like this never end. We keep in touch via skype and have skype meetings with students.

An article in the Lithuanian press:

Anglų kalbos pamokos kitaip
Iš arčiau 2015/05/29 by Vilija Mockuvienė
Vieni „Atžalyno“ gimnazijos mokiniai mokytojos Laimos Ardavičienės anglų kalbos pamokų laukia su baime, kiti – su džiaugsmu. Gimnazistai žino, kad šios patyrusios pedagogės pamokose nebus nei nuobodulio, nei tuščio laiko leidimo.
Paįvairindama pamokas „Atžalyno“ gimnazijos mokytoja Laima Ardavičienė į Kėdainius pakvietė Australijoje gyvenantį žydą E. Rabinovičių, kuris turi sąsajų su šiuo miestu ir mielai bendrauja su jaunimu.

For further see:

My images are supplemented with some provided by Vilius, a delightfully engaging student, who would like one day, to have sports photography business, possibly in South Africa!

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WJC Seminar at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library

I visited the Vilnius Jewish Public Library where the WJC, the World Jewish Congress, were running a seminar “Pearls of Yiddish Culture” over three days. 26 top educators from Israeli schools, universities and other institutions came to study Yiddish culture, language and literature. Study tours of the Jewish sites of Vilnius were part of the program. This seminar was a result of the cooperation between the WJC and Shai Bar Ilan Jewish roots travel agency affiliated with Bar Ilan University (Israel).


 1 whole group
2 lecture of Dr.M.Yushkovsky in the new premises
The same tour group were at the Choraline Synagogue in Kaunas on the previous day.
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Jewish Education In Vilnius

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From Wikipedia
Vilnius Sholom Aleichem ORT gymnasium – full-time secondary school in Vilnius, IT Kraševskio g. 5 engaged in primary, secondary and non-formal education programs in Hebrew, Lithuanian, Russian. Named after writer Sholom Aleichem.
Vilniaus Šolomo Aleichemo ORT gimnazija – dieninė bendrojo lavinimo mokykla Vilniuje, J. I. Kraševskio g. 5, vykdanti pradinio, pagrindinio, vidurinio ir neformaliojo ugdymo programas hebrajų kalba, lietuvių, rusų kalbomis. Pavadinta rašytojo Šolomo Aleichemo vardu.

I met with the Director Misha Jakobas, who kindly showed me around the new campus and its impressive facilities. The students appeared to be very well behaved and there was a lovely atmosphere in the building, which they moved into only 3 months ago.
Parents attended the year end concerts, including my friend, Daniel Gurevich. We were quite surprised to bump into each other!

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On a related, but somewhat tangential subject:
Roman Vishniac Exhibition at Polin in Warsaw, Poland
Which includes a segment on ORT. Runs until 31 August 2015.…/4632,roman-vishniac-at-polin-mu…/'s photo.
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From Wikipedia
Roman Vishniac (/ˈvɪʃni.æk/; Russian: Рома́н Соломо́нович Вишня́к; August 19, 1897 – January 22, 1990) was a Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe before the Holocaust

Vishniac was a versatile photographer, an accomplished biologist, an art collector and teacher of art history. He also made significant scientific contributions to photomicroscopy and time-lapse photography. Vishniac was very interested in history, especially that of his ancestors, and strongly attached to his Jewish roots; he was a Zionist later in life.[3]

Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photos of shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and microscopic biology. His book A Vanished World, published in 1983, made him famous and is one of the most detailed pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe in the 1930s.[2] Vishniac was also remembered for his humanism and respect for life, sentiments that can be seen in all aspects of his work.

In August 2014, the International Center for Photography in New York City announced that 9,000 of Vishniac’s photos, many never printed or published before, would be posted in an online database.[4]

Using Online Resources To Find Hidden Holocaust Sites

This post on Kelme’s two mass graves sites illustrates the importance of the website, Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania. Using the coordinates provided together with GPS, data roaming, and online maps such as Google Maps, it is an essential tool for finding well hidden Holocaust memorials.

In addition, on the initiative of the British Jewry & Lord Janner, granite markers were placed at many of the 220 Holocaust mass murder sites in Lithuania. On the side looking towards the site, is information indicating the direction and distance to the site.…

Holo Map




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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Church of Kelmė

Church of Kelmė
Flag of Kelmė
Coat of arms of Kelmė
Coat of arms

Location of Kelmė

Coordinates: 55°38′0″N 22°56′0″ECoordinates55°38′0″N 22°56′0″E
Country  Lithuania
Ethnographic region Samogitia
County Šiauliai County
Municipality Kelmė district municipality
Eldership Kelmė eldership
Capital of Kelmė district municipality
Kelmė eldership
First mentioned 1484
Granted city rights 1947
 • Mayor Vaclovas Andrulis
 • Total 7.85 km2 (3.03 sq mi)
Elevation 128 m (420 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 9,150
 • Density 1,200/km2(3,000/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Website Official website

Kelmė (About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in central Lithuania. It has a population of 9,150 and is the administrative center of the Kelmė district municipality.


Kelmė’s name may come from the Lithuanian “Kelmynės“, literally “the stubby place” because of the forests that were there at the time of its founding.[1]

Kelmė was first mentioned in 1416, the year that Kelmė’s first church was built.[1]

Prior to World War II, Kelmė (YiddishKelm‎) was home to a famous Rabbinical College, the Kelm Talmud Torah.

According to an 1897 census, 2,710 of Kelme’s 3,914 inhabitants were members of the town’s Jewish population, the vast majority of whom were merchants and traders and lived in the town.



Kelm Talmud Torah

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kelm Talmud Torah was a famous yeshiva in pre-holocaust KelmėLithuania. Unlike other yeshivas, the Talmud Torah focused primarily on the study of Musar (“Jewish ethics”) and self-improvement.

Under the Leadership of Simcha Zissel Ziv

The Talmud Torah was founded in the 1860s by Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, known as the Alter of Kelm (the Elder of Kelm), to strengthen the study of Musar in Lithuania.

In 1872, Rabbi Ziv purchased a plot of land and erected a building for the Talmud Torah, which began as a primary school and soon became a secondary school.

In 1876, the Talmud Torah was denounced to the authorities, who began to watch it closely and to hound it. Many traditional Jews in Kelm saw Rabbi Ziv as a “reformer,” as his school supported unconventional prayer practices and an unconventional, musar-focused curriculum.[1]

The curriculum of the original Talmud Torah under Rabbi Ziv’s leadership was fairly unique for a nineteenth-century Lithuanian yeshiva in two respects:

1. Significant time was devoted to Musar, work on the improvement of character traits. In most Lithuanian yeshivas, nearly the entire day was spent studying Talmud. By contrast, at the Talmud Torah, according to Menahem Glenn, “Musar was the chief study, while the study of Talmud was only of minor importance and little time was devoted to it.”[1]

2. In addition to Jewish subjects, students studied general subjects such as geography, mathematics, and Russian language and literature for three hours a day. The Kelm Talmud Torah was the first traditional yeshiva in the Russian empire to give such a focus to general studies.[2]

Under pressure from the Jews of Kelm, Rabbi Ziv decided to open his school elsewhere: he re-established it in Grobin, in the Courland province.

In 1881, Rabbi Ziv returned to Kelm, where the Talmud Torah became an advanced academy for the study of Torah and Musar. Most of the students who came to study at the Talmud Torah were married. Entry to the Talmud Torah was difficult and restricted to select students from other yeshivas, who had to bring letters of recommendation from their Rosh Yeshiva. Students were chosen after they passed rigorous examinations on Musar. At its peak, the Talmud Torah had a student body of between 30 and 35 members.[citation needed]

Rabbi Ziv established a group that was known as “Devek Tov,” comprising his foremost students. He shared a special relationship with the group’s members and he worked on writing out his discourses for them.

The Talmud Torah after Ziv’s death

Simcha Zissel Ziv died in 1898. Upon his death, his brother Rabbi Aryeh Leib Broida became the new director of the Talmud Torah. Aryeh Leib moved to the land of Israel in 1903, and his son Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Broida (also Simcha Zissel Ziv’s son-in-law) became the new director of the Talmud Torah.

After Tzvi Hirsch Broida’s death in 1913, Simcha Zissel’s son Rabbi Nahum Ze’ev Ziv became the new director of the Talmud Torah.

After Nahum Ze’ev Ziv’s death in 1916, Simcha Zissel’s student Rabbi Reuven Dov Dessler became the new director. He was succeeded by Simcha Zissel’s sons-in-law, Rabbi Daniel Movshovitz and Rabbi Gershon Miadnik.

On June 23rd, 1941, Nazi forces entered Kelm. Shortly after, the faculty and students of the Talmud Torah were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators and are buried in a mass grave in the fields of the Grozhebiski farm.

Famous students

The Mashgichim in many of the yeshivas in Poland and Lithuania were students of the Talmud Torah of Kelm. Some were: