Rabbi Yitzhok Riesenberg
Rabbi Yitzhok Isaac Riesenberg was the founding Rabbi of Central Shule since its inception in 1998. Central Shule under his leadership has seen the phenomenal growth of a fledging community of a handful of South African immigrants to becoming one the largest and most vibrant Shules in Australia
In 2013 we saw the completion of a purpose built, modern and state of the art Community Centre that houses an 800 seat Shule, Community Hall, Classrooms for Education and designated Youth areas for the children. Despite the rapid growth of Central Shule, the signature hallmarks of Central continue to be a heimishe, warm and user friendly Shule in the Chabad tradition. Yet cognisant of the membership’s South African roots, the Shule services are led by the Central Shule Choir.
Rabbi Riesenberg was born in Vienna, Austria. He received his Jewish Education at the Sydney Yeshiva, Yeshiva Gedola Melbourne and his semicha from the Lubavitch Yeshiva in New York.
Before founding Central Shule, Rabbi Riesenberg came with a wealth of experience of all facets community life, from his work in the USA and his 18-year tenure as Administrator of the Yeshiva Centre in Melbourne.
His Rebbetzin Sheyna is an integral part of the community engaging with people young and old, in particular when they are in times of need. They are both proud parents of eight children and many grandchildren and are eagerly awaiting many more.
Rabbi Didi Levin
Rabbi and Chazzan Didi Levin was born in London, England. Didi grew up immersed in a shule environment, with his parents being Rabbi and Rebetzin of London’s South Hampstead Synagogue. From an early age, Didi came to feel a deep love and commitment for Jewish communal life. At just 5 years of age, Didi began to sing in the Shule choir with his four brothers.
Didi also has a strong affiliation with his South African heritage. His parents are both South African by birth. After graduating from high school and attending Yeshivah in Israel, Didi felt a strong desire to return to South Africa, where he obtained Rabbinic ordination in Pretoria.
In late 2009, Didi married Chevi and moved to Melbourne. Didi and Chevi are now the proud parents of two beautiful children.
Since moving to Melbourne, Didi has trained as a cantor at the renowned GMV opera studio. Outside of Central Shule, Didi is employed as an educator for Chabad Youth and is completing his law degree at Monash University.
President Phil Goldman
Our family immigrated to Australia in 1998 and Melbourne became our new home. We have been members of Central Shule Chabad since 2000 and were part of the journey of the Shule into what it is today. My wife Ingrid and I have contributed to the Shule operation in volunteer capacities for many years and in December 2012 I made myself available for election onto the committee.
The Shule is now entering an exciting phase of its growth and development and I believe that everybody can make a contribution. The objective of our committee is to identify and meet the needs of our constituent members, provide an extensive range of services and become relevant to the broader Jewish Community.
Considering that our Shule is just 15 years old, it has achieved many memorable milestones and it can proudly say that the group of core contributors continues to grow. Thanks to that expanding group, the Shule has been able to deliver so much more of what the community demands of it.
In some way, we can all contribute to the continuing development of the Shule and what it can provide for the community. Our committee and I appreciate whatever contribution members can make.
Honorary Life Member – Ian Harris
President of Central Shule Chabad (1997 – 2013)
Emigrating from South Africa to Australia, Ian searched for some familiarity which he thought he would find in a shule environment. Although many local shules came close, he missed the old tunes that had shaped his former life. Whilst working with Yeshiva College, Ian and Rabbi Yitzchak Riesenberg began to chat when Ian conveyed he could not find a place (shule) of comfort that he was accustomed to.
Several discussions led to the eventual introduction of Central’s first service at the Caulfield Town Hall. This marked a significant turning point for as time evolved, the vision of having a place to call “home” would soon materialise.
As the founding president of Central Shule Chabad, Ian has served his community with passion, determination and commitment for 16 years. In that time, he has been instrumental in developing today’s vibrant community and watch it grow from a few people in a lounge room to a thriving 800 seat strong community centre.
The underlying foundation for the establishment of Central Shule Chabad was to ensure the focus of the organisation would be in the children and youth who would one day become leaders of the very same place. This was discussed with the late Rabbi Groner (z’l) who gave his blessing, financial assistance and continuous advice.
True to his word, the new Central Community lead by Ian ensures that their focus is around youth programs, youth education and instilling a fondness for going to shule, a strong Jewish identity, knowledge of Jewish festivals and comfort in being part of Central Shule into the next generation.
Ian has also been a strong driver behind the shule’s adult programs, sourcing a world class chazan in Didi Levine and encouraging the formation of a superb choir that has attained their own notoriety.
Inspired by his late grandmother who was largely instrumental in the formation of the Chassidic shule in South Africa, Ian has followed in her footsteps to build Central Shule Chabad. Ian always identifies his greatest achievement, apart from family, as the building of the Central Shule.
Ian also runs a successful family business and served as a board member of Council of Shules Victoria (COSV) for 5 years.