Life full for city’s Jews

Rabbi Lifhsitz in Dianella Shule, which is the centre of education and prayer for the Jewish community. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d402644
Rabbi Lifhsitz in Dianella Shule, which is the centre of education and prayer for the Jewish community. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d402644

They enjoy a full and active life in the suburb surrounded by everything they need, said Rabbi Avi Lifhsitz of the Dianella Shule on Yokine’s Woodrow Street.

The society includes several Jewish associations such as an old-age home, kosher caterers, a school, youth group, charity fund, sporting club and women’s council.

Most of the Perth Jewish population was centred on Yokine, Coolbinia, Menora and Dianella, Rabbi Lifhsitz said. ‘There has been a Jewish population here for more than 100 years. It has always been very small, numbering in about 3000 Jews.’

He said the primary function of the Shule was education and providing a place of prayer every morning and evening. ‘We constantly have teaching here for people in the community and it’s more than just sitting around and reading the Bible. It’s an intensive learning of Jewish text and Jewish tradition,’ Rabbi Lifhsitz said.

Shule was full on Friday nights and Saturdays for Sabbath. ‘The Sabbath is structured so that we all come together Friday night for services and sometimes there is singing and dancing ” it’s very lively,’ he explained.

‘Then we go home and families often eat with other families. It’s not uncommon to have 20 people over for a meal on the Sabbath and there is actually a commandment we have called a mitzvah, which means you have to enjoy the Sabbath.

‘The next day we come here and have the prayer service and an intellectual discourse and then intergenerational learning. Everyone has the opportunity to have a personal encounter with the Torah.

‘On Saturday night at the end of Sabbath we have a communal meal in the synagogue after the afternoon services.’

Born and raised in New York, Rabbi Lifhsitz later moved to Israel before coming to Perth with his wife and two children 10 months ago.

‘I came because I heard the Perth community was very warm and welcoming and people were very interested in continuing their education,’ he said.

At just 26, he is young for a rabbi. ‘A rabbi indicates there is a certain level of Jewish learning, which has to do with family life, dietary laws and the Sabbath,’ he said.