South Island, New Zealand

posted 26 Dec 2017, 21:15 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

Where in the world is Rabbi Eli

South Island, New Zealand

Here is a land of wild backcountry, of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and Alpine peaks, scenic contrast and haunting natural beauty.

Monroe Beach, where tawaki penguins play.

The summer is so tranquil, so laid back here, people started asking me whether there were any downsides at all to life in New Zealand. Whatever other considerations you may have, it's not easy to be Jewish in the South.

Take the synagogue in Christchurch. Its congregation, which has been around since 1860, only recently returned to the building after the devastating earthquake 7 years ago. It is currently run by the lay leadership, (if you want to become The Rabbi Of Christchurch, let me know; the position is wide open,) who do their best to provide the services to the Jews in the city, including a tiny Cheder and certain social activities.

There also used to be a Lubavitch House in the city but it was destroyed by the earthquake.

There is no source of kosher food whatsoever on the island. You can order your food from Auckland in the north, with yet another catch; the meat must come from abroad, usually Australia. See, the thing is, in May 2010 kosher slaughter was banned in New Zealand. Totally. Well, almost. Well, absolutely with no exceptions. Well, some. Well, maybe.

While the discombobulated government bodies were trying to reconcile various laws and statutes they were pushing into effect, the Jewish communities raised awareness of the violation of their rights. Eventually, some vague compromise was reached; the chickens can be schechted locally, and there is a specific dispensation for an unclear number of sheep being slaughtered annually, while the beef has to come from Oz.

There, now. Hope you understand the rules. (If you do, please let them know; no one else here does.)

But, of course, as a part of a kosher group of travelers, you have nothing to worry about.

Come, join me for a couple days, I'll take you to the kiwi sanctuary, (that would be the bird, not the fruit,) if we are lucky, we’ll see a crested penguin, and enjoy a Shabbat service at the foot of Franz Josef glacier on our way up from the Fiordland.

If you want to read more about the Jewish life "up north", here are the sites for Auckland congregations:

More on Christchurch congregation:

Kia Ora from Down Under,

Rabbi Eli