Taking the helm of the Sydney rabbinate

Back (from left): Rabbis Paul Lewin, Eli Feldman and Chaim Ingram. Front (from left): Rabbis Eli Cohen and Yehoram Ulman.

NEW president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW (RCNSW) Rabbi Eli Cohen hopes to strengthen the RCNSW itself by uniting the rabbinate.

Rabbi Cohen, rabbi of Newtown Synagogue, was appointed to the position at the RCNSW AGM last week, replacing Rabbi Yehoram Ulman.

He told The AJN this week he is “confident and optimistic” taking up the role. “I have been given the support of the members of the RCNSW to do what is currently needed,” Rabbi Cohen said.

Stating that a unified rabbinate is able to give “clear messages to the community about important issues facing the community”, Rabbi Cohen said his vision and aim is to “engender respectful discussions and robust debate among the council members in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance for differences of opinion”.

“The immediate agenda is to increase the communication between rabbis and do everything we can to support one another to serve our communities and the general wider community as best as possible,” he added.

Rabbi Ulman, in his dual role as a senior dayan of the Sydney Beth Din (SBD) and as RCNSW president, achieved the centralised authorisation of marriages in Sydney and other communities in Australia that are under the jurisdiction of the SBD.

“This is a most important achievement for our community because apart from preventing mistakes in status determination, it puts the Sydney community on par with all major Jewish communities around the world in achieving accountability in this most important life cycle milestone that affects Jewish continuity,” Rabbi Ulman said, “thus creating acceptance and trust from the chief rabbinate of Israel and other rabbinates and easing future marriages processes for children of couples that are centrally registered.”

Rabbi Ulman, in his parting message, spoke about the necessity for a unified rabbinate.

“While dissenting views on all topics are always carefully heard, considered and respected, at the end of the day, Torah law also requires respect for and, where necessary, deference to majority view,” he said.

“The alternative is a divided Orthodox rabbinate which will benefit nobody.”

Rabbi Ulman wished Rabbi Cohen and fellow executive members Rabbis Eli Feldman, Chaim Ingram and Paul Lewin “much continued success”.