Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — The matter I wish to raise tonight is for the attention of the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, whom I recognise is in the house tonight. The action I seek is for the minister to visit the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, to meet with the rabbis and the board to talk about future opportunities surrounding the synagogue and to meet with the Rabbinical Council of Victoria to hear about some of its great community initiatives. I ask the minister to visit both the organisations because of the important link of Rabbi Heilbrunn, to whom I will come shortly.
The St Kilda Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1871. At the time it was one of three synagogues in Melbourne. The synagogue embarked on a project of renewal in 2008.
Realising that many members of the synagogue are ageing has put an emphasis on projects relating to youth, family and building a community environment. I believe this community has much to offer and is an important part of Victoria’s history.
I bring to the attention of the minister the impending retirement of the congregation’s senior minister, Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn. He has served in the role for more than 20 years. Throughout this time Philip Heilbrunn has provided spiritual guidance to many members of the congregation and across the Jewish community. The rabbi has been involved in the synagogue’s renewal project and has been extremely supportive of the youth, family and community initiatives. He has also conducted tours for many people from the broader community through this important synagogue.
I bring to the attention of the minister the fact that in December 2010 Rabbi Heilbrunn was named the inaugural patron of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria. The rabbinical council is the pre-eminent religious leadership body of Victoria’s Jewish community. Rabbi Heilbrunn was awarded this honour for his outstanding contribution to the council as a longstanding vice-president and chair of the community reference group. Under Rabbi Heilbrunn’s guidance the community reference group has tackled social issues as diverse and complex as binge drinking, drug abuse amongst youth and combating domestic violence. Rabbi Heilbrunn’s giving of his time and wise counsel has been more remarkable of late, as both his parents have passed away within the past couple of months. I know that even as they grew older and found it more difficult to attend Saturday morning services they were very proud of their son and would rarely miss an opportunity to hear him address his congregation.
Rabbi Heilbrunn is well known throughout Melbourne’s Jewish community for his amazing voice and oratorical style. These skills, combined with his strong faith, have helped him earn the respect he holds in his leadership role today. I would like to place on the record my and my constituents’ sincere thanks to Rabbi Heilbrunn for his many years of service. I hope the minister can find time with his very busy portfolio to meet with the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria.