‘How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity’ (Psalm 133:1)
From the day that the Archdiocese purchased 486 Albert Street East Melbourne to become the St Patrick Centre, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has been neighbour to the historic East Melbourne Synagogue (or 'Shule') at 488 Albert Street.
In order that we should come to know each other better, David Schütz, of the Archdiocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, arranged for a CAM staff visit and tour of the Cathedral with Rabbi Dovid Gutnick on Wednesday morning (5 December).
About 25 staff members took up the invitation, and Rabbi Dovid gave an hour of his time to tell the story of the early Jewish Community in East Melbourne, and of the beautiful Synagogue that was their home. These days, without a resident congregation in the City Centre, the Shule is reimagining their future, with the hopes for establishing a Jewish educational and cultural centre adjoined to the Synagogue.
Some responses from the staff who attended the visit:
‘I found it so fascinating how our Faiths connect, I always knew it did but this experience gave me a brand new appreciation for this very fact. I also enjoyed learning about the history of the Jewish community here in Melbourne. I didn’t realise that they resided largely in East Melbourne and the northern suburbs before they headed south.’
‘Incredible! Rabbi Dovid Gutnik is a very impressive young fellow. Wonderful experience which I will share with my family and friends.’
‘I am often struck listening to a well-read Rabbi, both how close their thinking and ethos is to ours, and how deep is the wisdom flowing from a line of prayer and study that extends for thousands of years back before Christianity. We have much we can learn from and share with our ‘elder brothers’ in the faith. In an increasingly and at times aggressively secular society like our, I think it more than symbolic that their synagogue and our office stand side by side. We need one another. It was great that the two David’s brought this visit together.’
‘Thank you for the opportunity to visit the Synagogue. I loved the way Rabbi Dovid shared how his faith impacted his life, such as being aware as he passed through thresholds from the public to the private and back again. I loved hearing the Torah read, as it probably has been since the time of Moses.’
‘Two things stood out for me: The deep reverence for the Torah, that it is a living document to be taught, and even argued over! And the statement that ‘every member of the congregation believes that they are a ‘rabbi-in-waiting’’, and so feels free to challenge the rabbi in mid-sermon! (How many of our clergy could cope with that, I wonder?). Thanks for organising this – it was a superb experience.’