Honouring Rav Aron Amzalak
'He is respected by people of all ages and all communities, he's been very diligent and true to his values always, but also in a very pleasant and likeable manner'
An evening of gratitude and celebration was held by Machzika Hatorah and Nefesh synagogues to pay tribute to Reverend, now Rabbi, Aron Amzalak’s 50 years of service to the community.
Rav Amzalak is one of Australia’s longest-serving ministers, having served the Roscoe Street congregation consistently for 50 years.
Over 200 people attended the event, which included speeches by local community members and tributes from people across the world including Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau.
On behalf of the Sydney Beth Din, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick bestowed Rabbi Amzalak with honorary smichah at the event, ordaining him as Rabbi for his service to the community and broad knowledge of Jewish law.
“A lot of people from the whole community were present, not just Roscoe Street and Nefesh, but [from] throughout the whole of Sydney,” Rav Amzalak told The AJN.
“It was an outstanding event, and it was very nice of Rabbi Moss to have made this 50th year a very memorable one for me.”
Rav Amzalak took over from the then Rabbi of the Machzika Hatorah synagogue on Roscoe Street on the first night of Pesach in March 1973, having previously held a teaching position at Moriah College.
The Machzika Hatorah congregation was a thriving community of mostly Holocaust survivors for nearly 40 years but dwindled over recent decades without the support of new families and youth, almost leading to its closure.
Machzika Hatorah amalgamated with Rabbi Moss’ Nefesh shule 15 years ago, and the combined congregation has flourished ever since.
“Rabbi Moss brought all the young people, and that’s the future – if you don’t have the youth coming in the synagogue, the numbers go down and so on,” Rav Amzalak said.
“Who would have said that a synagogue that was going to be sold, would [become] one that is flourishing?”
The Amzalak family and Rabbi Moss surprised Rav Amzalak with a new chazzan’s lectern, dedicated with an inscription honouring his 50 years of service and contribution.
Rabbi Moss said the event was “very moving”.
“[Rav Amzalak] has connected a whole new generation,” he said.
“He is somebody who has been in the community for so long, with no controversy – he’s at peace with everybody.
“He is respected by people of all ages and all communities, he’s been very diligent and true to his values always, but also in a very pleasant and likeable manner.”