In another "moment in time" for the Perth Jewish community, yet another monumental literary work by Rabbi Shalom Coleman was launched tonight.
A large crowd attended a very dignified launch function at the PHC
, where the transcript of "They Gave of Their Time - A record of volunteers shaping the Jewish community" was released in electronic format.
In his launch address, Professor Keith Shilkin noted that it was 47 years to the day since Rabbi Coleman arrived in Perth.
It was also noted that the account of Rabbi Coleman as author of the work was modestly recorded.
On perusing the text and exploring Rabbi Coleman's previous autobiographies, this turns out to be quite an understatement.
Rabbi Coleman is without question one of the most fascinating and influential people I have met.
represents for me a link to a generation that carried yiddishkeit from the rebuilding of the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel, to the renaissance of Jewish education.
His Rabbinic standing in Australia is marked by his honorary life presidency of ORA, and by the respect that Rabbi Coleman commands from his Rabbinic colleagues.
Outside of the Jewish community Rabbi Coleman's influence has extended far.
To cite but a few examples, Rabbi Coleman has been a Rotarian member, President and Governor, patron of the Family Association of Western Australia, Murdoch University Senator and UWA educator and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate, Chairman of the Perth Dental Hospital Board, and vice President of the Save the Children Fund.
has edited the "Listening Post" journal as part of his
contribution to the Returned Services League
(he was an RAF Radio Operator in World War 2 for the British Army).
From his work to free Russian Jewry, to his Chairmanship of the Bangladesh Cyclone Warning Project that saved the lives of some 40,000 people, Rabbi Coleman has touched the lives of many people who do not know him, and thousands upon thousands of more people who do.
What is however most remarkable is that on any given Shabbat, you can still daven at the Maurice Zeffert Home
and experience the pleasure of Rabbi Coleman's chazzanut and the power of his
94th year he
demonstrates an energy and a perseverance that is unlike any other.
It is worth noting that this is poignant as one of Rabbi Coleman's most influential teachers at Jews College in London during the 1950's was blind, but could recall the teachings of Judaism by heart.
Perhaps the greatest reflection regarding Rabbi Coleman's use of technology is to put some further context around the generation he
has historically contributed to and recorded, and the generation to which he
gifts this transcript.
Rabbi Coleman was born shortly after the end of the first world war (his parent's gifted him the name Shalom in deference to the peace of the armistice).
I marvel at Rabbi Coleman, and everything he represents.
carried communities through a period of sustained growth and upheld a tradition that was not always embraced by his
peers, and how his
leadership gave a stature and kavod to the Rabbinic profession in a manner that is not commonly seen today.
The collective values of the volunteers who have been profiled by Rabbi Coleman are the essence of our community.
Whether it is by ink on a page, or electrons on a screen, we need to digest the importance of the recording of this work, learn from it, and use its inspiration it to shape our own values of community identity and involvement.
Thank you Rabbi Coleman for this wonderful publication.