In the Beginning
Here they sang the ‘lecha dodi’ every Friday night full of hope that Coogee, Australia would be their safe haven, a start of a new beginning to rebuild the lives that they lost for themselves and for their children. There is a tradition that communities will transplant themselves in the times of Moshiach and be there for everyone in Jerusalem. What happened in Coogee was that War saw,Budapest,Minsk, Satmar, and East London were transplanted to these distant shores.
The life of the refugee after the holocaust in Australia was challenging and demanding. Families had no language, no money, no understanding of Australian culture and no family support yet they had each other all sharing the common experience of surviving the hardships of war. It was an enormous traumatic bond that was etched in their lives and in their memories forever. Unequivocally each and every one had a burning desire to rebuild the homes that they lost, and to establish community in the spiritual desert that they found themselves. In this way Coogee Synagogue was no different than the many other post holocaust communities that sprung up to continue the light of the eternal Jewish flame.
Approximately twenty families found themselves in a small little three-block area not far from Coogee Beach. They did not intend to meet but they bumped into each other at the grocer, butcher or just taking a stroll along the beach promenade. It was these unassuming yet heroic people who started the Coogee Randwick Clovelly Hebrew Congregation – Or Chadash.
Today the Synagogue looks back with pride on its achievements as a communal pillar and strong supporter of the land of Israel. In the last 10 years over 300 Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have taken place at the synagogue. The circle of life seems to be turning as many of those Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are now celebrating their weddings. Those who were married in the synagogue are now celebrating their children’s birth. The role of the synagogue throughout the ages has been to provide a second home for its membership. Coogee Synagogue is no different. Coogee is a place where its members come together to celebrate joyous events and happy occasions and to mourn over sad ones. It is a place, which creates the remarkable sensation to laugh and cry at the same time, to shed a tear of both sadness and joy.
New Seating installed by Effuzi September 2011