Beit Or v’Shalom relies on the support and help of our many volunteers. Whether you can help with something once a year or more regularly, we welcome offers from interested / experienced persons to assist with activities in the following areas:
• Lay leaders – direct and run services
• Cantorial soloists – singers who lead familiar and new service tunes
• Torah readers – read Hebrew from our Torah scroll
• Gabbaim – organise key honours and assist the Torah reader
• Shammashim – welcome congregants and visitors and assist in preparing the sanctuary
• Drashot presenters – prepare and deliver relevant sermons.
• Cheder (Sunday school) Teachers and Assistants – guide and develop Jewish learning
• Bar / Bat Mitzvah tuition – prepare young people for their Bar / Bat Mitzvah
• Youth activities – support post-Bar / Bat Mitzvah young people in continuing their Jewish learning and commitment
• Adult learning – develop and deliver interesting and informative presentations.
• Organisers and assistants – plan and manage congregational functions usually associated with Festivals celebrations
• Caterers – prepare and provide food and drink for special congregational functions.
• Website designers and maintainers – ensure our website stays current and attractive
• Newsletter editors – prepare and publish congregation and community news to members and supporters
• Librarian / historian – catalogue books and reference holdings and record congregational events
• Membership and Outreach – attract and welcome new members and keep in touch with those in more distant locations.
• Life-cycle supporters – be a point of contact for families requiring congregational assistance for special family events such as Britot, baby naming, Bar / Bat Mitzvahs and weddings
• Visitors – visit the sick and keep in touch with them
• Advisors – offer confidential advice and guidance to those in need
• Funerals – assist in comforting the bereaved and in supporting Jewish ritual requirements before and after a funeral.
Property Care Team:
• Yard Care – Lawn Mowing, Whip snipping, Weeding, Pruning etc
• Building Care – Cleaning, Painting, General building repair and maintenance.
Please contact us if you are able to assist us with any of the above activities. We are so grateful for the work that all our Volunteers do – an extra pair of hands will lighten the load.
The Terry Pekarek Memorial Library maintains an extensive library of books and DVDs on Jewish topics that are free for members to borrow.
The Laurie Rosenblum OAM Resources Centre stores Shule’s Reference Texts, Siddurs and prayer materials, along with its collection of bar/bat mitzvah texts and previous generations of siddurim. There is also a set of Mishna. These are available for research within the building.
Bernie Jacks OA Hall
The Bernie Jacks OA Hall is situated behind our synagogue and is used for education classes, fun music and movie nights and other Jewish events. Our Sukkah is located next to the Hall giving us the opportunity to spread out from the Hall if we wish. The Hall, although small and cosy, is air conditioned making it comfortable for events summer and winter.
We have three Torah scrolls, each with its own unique story.
One scroll came into the congregation's possession early in the life of BKS, our predecessor in Carina. This scroll we call the BKS Scroll.
Another of our scrolls comes from Temple Shalom, Dallas. They gave it to us as part of the celebrations on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary in 2015, recognising that BOvS was growing and would benefit from their help. Their generosity has created a sister congregation relationship which we greatly value.
The BKS and Dallas Scrolls are the ones used for regular Shabbat and Festival services.
A very special Torah Scroll housed in our Ark at Beit Or v'Shalom Synagogue Brisbane, has travelled a long way from it's original home. It was taken from the town of Loštice (pronounced LOSH-tea-tseh), about 140 miles east of Prague, in Moravia, in the eastern region of the Czech Republic. For more information go to www.memorialscrollstrust.org and read more on the Torah Scrolls saved from destruction during the Nazi occupation. Also see certificate below which is hung on the wall in the entrance to the Synagogue.
Beit Or v'Shalom is proud to provide a home this Torah # 736 of the Westminster Memorial Scroll Collection. This Torah was among more than 2,000 rescued from Nazi pillaging during the Second World War. Its rescuers were among the millions who perished in the Shoah.
History of the Czech Torah Project
In the years after World War II a legend grew that the Nazis had planned to create a museum to an extinct race. This has little foundation in fact. We do know, however, that a devout band of Jews from Prague’s Jewish community worked to bring artifacts and Jewish possessions of all kinds to what had become the Central Jewish Museum in Prague. Here they labored under appalling conditions to preserve what little remained of Jewish communities previously at the mercy of vandals and plunderers. This Jewish initiative was directly responsible for the subsequent conservation of the Scrolls.
The Jewish community hoped it that these treasures would be protected and might one day return to their original homes. All the curators at the Museum were eventually transported to Terezin and Auschwitz. Only two survived and the Czech Jewish community after the war was too depleted to care for them. Their legacy was the catalog of the vast collection in the Museum, eventually to become the Jewish Museum of Prague.
After the war, they were transferred to the ruined synagogue at Michle outside Prague where they remained until 1963. Some fifty congregations re-established themselves in the Czech Republic and were provided with religious artifacts, not necessarily from their own communities. When the Communists took over the government in 1948 Jewish communal life was again stifled and most synagogues were closed. Their possessions went to the newly re-founded Jewish Museum of Prague.
In 1963 Eric Estorick, a London art dealer, was offered the opportunity to purchase the 1,564 Scrolls of the Law, stored by the Museum. Through the generosity of Ralph Yablon, the scrolls were bought and transported to the Synagogue Westminster Synagogue in London and the Memorial Scrolls Trust was established to care for them. The Torahs were then cataloged (ours is MST# 736 shown below) and sent to synagogues worldwide as a symbol of what was destroyed, and as an everlasting reminder that they will never be forgotten.
The Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum was built to keep some of the collection, a permanent memorial to the martyrs from whose synagogues they come; many of them are distributed throughout the world to be memorials everywhere to the Jewish tragedy and to spread light as harbingers of future brotherhood on earth and all of them bear witness to the glory of the holy Name.
The Memorial Scrolls Trust, a U.K. non-profit organization, has recently begun to reach out to synagogues and other institutions who received the Czech scrolls to gather updated information about them.
After fifty years, when most of the Scrolls have found new homes, the Trust is charged with the next phase of its work. It must ensure that those synagogues who have received scrolls are aware of what they have, that they investigate the original homes of the Scrolls or what is left of them, and hand on to the next generation the precious legacy they have acquired.
A vibrant and enduring focus for Progressive Jewish life and thought in Brisbane.
Beit Or v'Shalom exists to provide a welcoming, friendly environment where Jews can worship, learn and grow, and where everyone can contribute to the Jewish and broader community of Brisbane.
We accomplish this by providing, in a Progressive Jewish framework, for the religious, cultural, educational and social needs of Jews in Brisbane through services, learning programs and social activities that celebrate the principles of Torah, Talmud and Progressive Judaism.
- Respect – everyone is welcome and all views are listened to.
- Learning – we treasure learning as the core of Jewish life and our hopes for the future.
- Inclusiveness – there is a place here within a Progressive Jewish framework for all Jews, and all those who are studying to become Jews.
- Openness – our decision-making processes are clear, transparent and fair.
- Family – we value every member as part of our Progressive Jewish family, whatever their own family circumstances.
Jewish dietary practices vary widely across different congregations in the Progressive Movement. Our practice at Beit Or v'Shalom recognises that many of our members, while not insisting on sourcing their meat and poultry from kosher butchers, do prefer to limit their consumption to kosher species, and the separation of meat and dairy.
In keeping with this, at our functions and events we do not allow any non-kosher meat (except for chicken at Pesach Seder). Also excluded are dishes containing milk and meat together in the same recipe. All vegetables and fruit are allowed.
Kosher fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products such as milk, cheese (non-animal rennet) and yogurt may be used in cooking and consumed on Synagogue premises.
It is recommended that when people put food out on the table they should label the foods appropriately (i.e. milk or meat, gluten free, vegetarian etc).
Beit Or v'Shalom is incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981.
The Synagogue is managed by a board of directors elected by members of the Synagogue with the support of our members and the wider community.
To view a copy of our constitution click here.
Beit Or v'Shalom Synagogue Brisbane: A brief history of origin
An unusual donation and the insightful thinking of a small group of Brisbane Jewry who wanted a shul outside of orthodoxy -- with equal rights for women -- gave birth to Queensland's first reform shul, Temple Shalom, in 1978. This congregation was later renamed as Beit Knesset Shalom Synagogue Brisbane Inc.
The shul was -- 'miraculously' -- purchased without incurring any debt.
At a Special General Meeting in December 1977 the congregation decided to buy the dwelling and property now known as Beit Or v'Shalom Inc, at 13 Koolatah Street, Carina (then postal code Camp Hill) — for $25,000.
The problem was how to raise the money. The obvious way was to send the hat around and allow congregants to make their donations. The only problem with that, as was seen by the shul's forward-thinking and enthusiastic founding members, was that it could take years with members slowly chipping in their hard-earned pennies and cents.
Instead of waiting, a core group suggested that five members -- who could afford it -- each put in $5000 (fairly substantial amounts in those days) to buy the property outright and avoid an overdraft.
Four hands went up, including the late Bernie Jacks at whose house the first ever meeting of Brisbane's reform Jewry was held in April 1972, and Ben Shohet, who was a strong supporter of the shul until his passing.
A fifth hand was needed, and it came in a most unusual and generous way. Terry Pekarek, formally of Czechoslovakia (see separate story on this site), who was the only survivor in her family of the Nazi concentration camps, found a number of gold coins that had been hidden by her father during the War. She brought these with her to Australia, and sold the coins to make up the full amount for the purchase.
The acquisition of the shul was finalised in early 1978, and the first service was Purim, on March 17. The chief lay reader was Harry Silver. A few months later, on August 28, a special Dedication Service was held with Rabbi Dr R Brasch, Rabbi Richard 'Dickie' Lampert, Rabbi Hillel Avidan and Reverend Cantor Michael Deutsch involved.
The congregation had come a long way -- in a short time -- from that first Shabbat Service at the home of Bernie Jacks and his wife, Joan in early 1972. Even that first meeting was well represented in an official capacity with Rabbi Brasch from Temple Emanuel, Woollahra, Dr V Bear, the Australia-New Zealand Union of Reform Jewry President and ANZURJ vice-president, Mr L Rose taking part.
From that first meeting, events moved fast. The first General Meeting was held in May -- remarkably, at the John Oxley Motel, Wickham Terrace. The name Temple Shalom was adopted and Mr George Frey, President of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies, made an official invitation to the congregation for affiliation to the state's overarching Jewish organisation.
Fast forward to 2007. Some members of the congregation wanted a more "conservative" feel, while others preferred to retain the "progressive" approach to Judaism. This led to the creation of Brisbane Progressive Jewish Congregation as a separate entity. Over the next decade it became clear that the separation had been a mistake. In mid-2017 the two congregations reunited to form Beit Or v'Shalom, and Brisbane's non-orthodox Jewish community once again found expression in a single, strong voice.
Brisbane’s two major non-orthodox communities have reunited
Brisbane’s non-orthodox Jewish communities merge to become Beit Or v’Shalom
Beit Knesset Shalom and Brisbane Progressive Jewish Congregation (Beit Or) officially joined hands after putting a merger agreement to their two congregations in late August. The new congregation is known as Beit Or v’Shalom, and is based at the original Progressive shul (Temple Shalom) in Koolatah Street, Carina (previously Camp Hill).
Jason Steinberg, president of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies, the roof body of Queensland Jewry, said he was delighted to hear the two congregations had merged. “The efforts shown by the two congregations and their leadership to merge is a great outcome for our relatively small Jewish community in Brisbane,” he said. “The new merged progressive congregation demonstrates the importance of having a harmonious community with shared values.”
Beit Or president Hila Jacobi, who will serve as president of the reunified congregation until a new board is elected mid-2018, said, “The reunification has come about after years of hard work. The will of the two congregations is there and the time is right. We look forward to a strong, inclusive and growing centre of Progressive Jewish learning and worship.” BKS president Matt Goldman, who recently made Aliyah to Israel, and who with Ms Jacobi was instrumental in bringing about the reunification, said, “The merger will create a strong progressive community centre in Brisbane which will further strengthen the wider Brisbane Jewish community. We can now look forward to a lively, united and growing congregation.”
The split came about nearly 10 years ago because of ideological differences. Said Union of Progressive Judaism president Roger Mendelson, “The UPJ is delighted that after 10 difficult years, Beit Or and Beit Knesset Shalom have agreed to merge. This is wonderful news for the Jewish community in Brisbane, including the Orthodox, as it will strengthen the whole community.” He said the UPJ “especially acknowledges the wisdom and drive shown by both boards and their presidents.”
Brisbane is on of many vibrant centres of Jewish life in the UPJ region, which covers Australia, NZ and Asia. The cheder has been meeting at the Carina shul grounds since May 2017, with around 30 children involved. In September 2017 final approval for the merger was granted by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.
The coins pictured here once belonged to the Father of Terry Pekarek, a foundation member of Temple Shalom. Terry and her family lived in Czechoslovakia before World War II. They were all deported by the Nazis to concentration camps; only Terry and her husband survived.
After the war, Terry returned and found these 18 gold coins which had been hidden and which had been part of her Father’s valuable collection. Terry and her husband Rudi emigrated to Australia and eventually Rudi was appointed Chief Conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Terry generously donated the coins towards the cost of the purchase of this building in Koolatah Street.
Dedicated to the memory of Terry Pekarek’s Family.
In 1998 BKS celebrated it's 25th anniversary and to commemorate the event local artist and congregant Gael Levy was commissioned to design a stained glass window. Gael's design incorporates a dove, the universal symbol for our name shalom, together with the Hebrew lettering for shalom and Austro-Hungarian symbols taken from a collection of antique coins donated towards the purchase of the synagogue by the late Terry Pekarek Z"L. The cost of the window was donated byBen Shohet.
The left hand window was commissioned in 2003 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the congregation. Gael's design for this window features a shofar based on the midrash citing Psalm 89:15, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound", and continues the menorah theme from the original commission. The costs were donated by the Miszkowski familyto celebrate Sam and Liisa's 25th wedding anniversary.