History - Blake Street Hebrew Congregation Inc.

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Our Shule

Blake Street Hebrew Congregation is an independent, Modern Orthodox, Zionist Kehilla located in South Caulfield, Melbourne.

Our Shule began at the family home of John and Ginette Searle. The first service, held on Parshat Yitro on 10 February 1996, was attended by nearly 100 people and even included a baby naming. The men and women were separated by a homemade mechitza in the lounge area, whilst the children played in another room or outside. Rabbi Levy Tennenbaum of the Yeshiva Centre volunteered his time, leading the Kehilla in its early months.

No one could have predicted the speed with which the Shule would grow and a few months after services began, a meeting to discuss Blake Street’s future was held and the Shule’s founding principles were formulated. These principles still guide the policy and decision making of the Kehilla. They include Modern Orthodox, Independent, Zionist, Family-Friendly and Consultative.

With the Shule fast outgrowing the Searle’s lounge room, new premises were needed and we moved into 936 Glenhuntly Road in time for Rosh Hashanah that year. This was followed soon after by the appointment of Rabbi Yirmi Garfunkel as the Shule’s first Rabbi. Reb Yirmi remained with the Shule for over ten years and, together with the Committees of Management, oversaw the further expansion of the Shule membership.

In September 1998, the Shule took possession of its own Sefer Torah, which was donated by members of the community. By 1999, larger premises were needed and so began a six year project that resulted in the move to our current home at 868 Glenhuntly Road in November 2005.

As well as providing a place for prayer and study, Blake Street Hebrew Congregation is active in many other ways, including education, welfare and social activities. Our Kehilla has gone from strength to strength because of the vision of our founders, our dedicated presidents and committee members and the commitment of our members.

Blake Street offers a friendly environment in which to explore your Jewish identity. Over the years, it has developed several unique features, such as tailored Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, that take into account the wishes of the families. The Kehilla has also led in the development of proactive policies on issues such as Aguna (chained women). We also offer services on Shabbat, a morning and evening minyan each weekday, and services on all Chagim. Please feel free to come and join us.

Rabbi Ian Goodhardt was the spiritual leader of our Kehilla from 2009 to 2018.

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