The Talmidim of Cheder Levi Yitzchok in Melbourne had a lot to be excited about as they prepared to return home after a restorative and inspiring four-day winter camp at Creswick (90 minutes from Melbourne).
Their best of breed camp featured a program of specially designed shiurim, exhilarating activities, and 5-star cuisine, skilfully supervised by the Cheder’s dedicated Melamdim, Shluchim and Mesivtah-based counselors.
But the camp experience hadn’t quite finished quite yet…
On the journey home, the coach bus took a slight detour to stop at at one of Australia’s most historic Jewish sights- The Ballarat Hebrew Congregation- the oldest Synagogue on the mainland of Australia.
Founded in 1861, the congregation originally served the religious needs of those Jews who made the long and dangerous journey “Down Under” in the hope of striking gold during the frenzied Gold Rush period in the 1850s/1860s.
The talmidim were not only dazzled by the beauty of the shul, and intrigued with its marvelous history, but were amazed to learn that the shul still hosts Shabbos minyanim on a monthly basis.
In its heyday, the shul was once so thriving that locals would often find it was impossible to find a seat during the shabbosim and yomim tovim. This realization imbued the talmidim with an even greater sense of appreciation for the opportunity to once again fill the shul to its capacity with their soulful prayer.
It was deeply rewarding for the talmidim to daven Mincha in a shul that seemed all but forgotten. After davening, the talmidim were able to view the shul’s beautifully preserved Sifrei Torah, written in the 1800s, as well as other fascinating displays of Judaica.
Through their davening and exemplary behavior, the talmidim of the Cheder had breathed fresh chayus into one of Australia’s earliest Mikdoshei Me’At, and in doing so, readied it for its ultimate journey to Eretz Yisroel with the coming of Moshiach.