The modern trend in educational circles today, is to promote the idea of the “community school”. Tertiary institutions, according to latest thinking, should not be Isolated ivory towers of learning but centres whose influence emanates throughout the community they serve. Melbourne's Rabbinical College, steeped in traditional teaching of Jewish knowledge, has always adhered to this principle, and has been successful on a variety of fronts.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Until the establishment of the College, Rabbonim, teachers, youth directors, and the like had to be brought to Australia from abroad. Now it is possible for such people to be educated within our own community. Thus, not only is the future of Yiddishkeit in Australia guaranteed, but, most importantly, community leaders are being produced who, as it were, “speak the same language” as the community. Dozens of former students, who occupy posts of the above-mentioned nature, attest to this fact.
Students regularly go out into the community, spreading an awareness of Judaism, all the while giving help and encouragement to fellow Jews, no matter in which circumstances they find themselves in.
During their free time, students from the college visit homes, speaking to families about the importance of proper Jewish education for both themselves and their children. They assist in affixing kosher mezuzot or checking old ones, koshering kitchens, and in general, attempt to spread the light and warmth of Torah-true Yiddlshkeit throughout the community.
Each Friday afternoon, students take part in “Mivtzoyim”, in which they visit workplaces including Victoria Market, shopping centres and offices to share a word of Torah, and to encourage their fellow Jews to fulfil an extra Mitzvah, be it Tefillin, Shabbos candles, or charity. Some of the students also visit patients in area hospitals and homes, offering a word of encouragement and sympathy in their time of distress.
On Purim, the customary Mishloach-Manot food presents, are distributed to thousands of people, and Megillah-readings are arranged for those who are not able to hear it at a synagogue.
Prior to Pesach, thousands of hand-baked Shmura Matzot are distributed. The students immerse themselves in the mammoth task of arranging communal Pesach Seders, Australia-wide. The students then fly to the various locations, in order to conduct these Seders, and to spend time with those Jews who do not live within a large Jewish community.
Shofar blowing is yet another of the services provided by the students of the College. On Rosh Hashonah afternoon, the bochurim walk to many hospitals and homes, in order to enable Jewish patients to fulfil the mitzvah of hearing the blowing of the Shofar. This is then repeated several weeks later, in order to enable all to fulfil the mitzvah of Lulav on the festival of Sukos.
Before, or during, some of these holidays, the Yeshivah Gedolah students visit Jewish inmates at Victoria’s prisons, providing them with a spiritual boost and any Judaica which they require.
On Yom Tov, Melbourne synagogue members regularly hear students of the Yeshivah Gedolah address their respective congregations.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the students’ community involvement is their work with Jewish youth. Every week, students lead youth groups on Shabbos, imparting their knowledge to the participants. In summer and winter camps, seminars and Shabbatons, they take an active role In creating a traditional Jewish atmosphere at these programs.