Sydney’s Rabbi Gary Robuck has been appointed to serve as interim rabbi of Temple Beth Israel (TBI) in Melbourne for the next 12 months, starting in January.
His appointment follows the standing down of Rabbi Gersh Lazarow, TBI’s senior rabbi, amid investigations into allegations he plagiarised sermons, drashes and articles. This month, TBI farewelled Rabbi Kim Ettlinger, who has become rabbi of Perth’s Temple David after serving at TBI for more than 11 years.
Announcing Rabbi Robuck’s appointment to members, TBI president Joanne Loewy Irons stated, “With this provisional support, we can provide the necessary relief to our spiritual leadership team whilst also enjoying the depth and breadth of experience from a very accomplished rabbi. Rabbi Robuck is passionate about service to klal Yisrael and is equally comfortable when working in a variety of religious and cultural settings.”
Rabbi Robuck, a former senior rabbi of Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel, has served as rabbi, chazan and principal baal koreh (Torah reader) for congregations both in the US and Australia. In 2000, he was presented with the Close-Caputo Educator of Humanity Award and in 2013 was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in recognition of his “fervent commitment to Jewish education”.
The father of three is married to Jocelyn Robuck, executive manager of the Union for Progressive Judaism. He will work with TBI cantor Michel Laloum in leading services and performing other key roles.
Rabbi Robuck told The AJN, “I’m really grateful to the congregation’s leadership for placing its confidence in me at this time and I look forward to the opportunity to meet and to serve the Temple Beth Israel community, which I’ve always held in high esteem. And I look forward to collaborating, being a good teammate in support of the staff, to assist the members of the community in whatever way they require, and to provide strong leadership at the board table.
I bring not only experience but enthusiasm.”
Union for Progressive Judaism co-presidents David Knoll and Brian Samuel welcomed the appointment. Samuel, a past president of TBI, described it as “an important step in the healing process for what has been a traumatic year … Rabbi Robuck comes with extensive rabbinic experience, maturity, intelligence and an outstanding knowledge of Torah and the principles of Progressive Judaism.”
Progressive Judaism Victoria (PJV) president Philip Bliss said, “We look forward to working with Rabbi Robuck and with Jocelyn Robuck and including them in our PJV programs. We look forward to hosting them and giving them a Melbourne Jewish welcome.”