St Kilda Hebrew Congregation (the Shule) is a Traditional Orthodox Shule with services run along minhagim established in England in the 1800s. While men and women sit separately, a downstairs section for ladies (in addition to the upstairs ladies gallery) has a halachically-conforming, see-through mechitzah alongside the men’s section. The Nusach is Ashkenaz with Sefaradit (Israeli) pronunciation in services conducted almost entirely in Hebrew (using the Artscroll siddur) with prayers for the State and country being said in English. Page numbers are regularly announced for those who are not familiar with the flow of the Hebrew service.
The Shule has played a leading role in Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish Community for 145 years. When first established it was one of only three Congregations in Melbourne, all within 5 kms of the centre of the City and is situated within the Community Eruv. Since its inception in 1871 the Shule has been situated in this convenient location, within walking distance of the City, Beach and Community.
Under the inspired leadership of its long serving Rabbis – there have only been six in its long existence – the Shule provided Religious Services, Jewish Education, Youth Activities Pastoral Services as well as guidance and support through two World Wars, Economic Depressions and the vicissitudes of life ‘down under’.
Generations of new waves of arrivals from Jewish communities around the globe have been sensitively and successfully embraced. Post-World War 2 development saw other Congregations established in Kew, Caulfield, Elwood, and later Doncaster, Moorabbin, Brighton and East St Kilda.
More recently smaller Congregations and shtiblach have sprung up across these same areas catering to local or sectional interests within the wider Orthodox community. However the Shule continues to offer an enlightened welcoming general Orthodox approach, striving to engender a sense of belonging among all Jews. Its services are conducted in a ‘worshipper-friendly’ manner aspiring to high standards of inspiration, dignity and beauty by Cantor and Choir and sermons relevant to the challenges of contemporary Jewish life.
Morning services are conducted on weekdays and Sunday. Shabbat services are conducted on Friday evening and Saturday morning. In addition, services are held on the evenings before Chagim, Purim and Tisha B’Av. See also our Services page.
Life Cycle events
Life cycle events are a specialty of the Shule. Weddings, Aufruffs, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Births and Britot are conducted and acknowledged in a meaningful way seeking to achieve the very best for our congregants and members of the community. See also our Life cycle events page.
St Kilda Shule maintains a close, active and cooperative relationship with its neighbour, the Jewish Museum of Australia whose members conduct regular Synagogue tours and the Congregation’s facilities are a natural venue for its lectures, training sessions and grand openings. A cordial and constructive relationship also exists with Jewish Care, which is also a close neighbour.
Many groups and organisations from throughout the Jewish Community avail themselves of the Shule’s facilities on an ongoing basis, and anyone who has visited our beautiful historical Synagogue edifice can only be moved by the inspirational beauty of its construction.
In 2004 the Synagogue Building was Heritage listed thus acknowledging its unique architecture and importance to Melbourne’s historical past. Shortly thereafter the Congregation received its first heritage Grant and commenced the repair and refurbishment of the leadlight windows. In 2015, the Shule building underwent its biggest restoration works since it was built in 1927. Over $800,000 were spent on repairs to the leaking copper dome, paint works, replacing cracked concrete around the building, raising the sunken tiled foyer, repairs to brick piers and rusted steel I-beams and installation of heating/air conditioning units.
In October 2010 the Congregation entered its 140th year and commenced the search for a Chief Minister to replace Rabbi Heilbrunn who would be retiring in July 2011.
In May, 2011 the Members voted to appoint Rabbi Yaakov Glasman as its next Chief Minister to commence duties at the end of July 2011, when Rabbi Heilbrunn retired.
The Board have undertaken a complete review of the Congregation’s activities to try to ensure that it becomes more relevant to the many young families who belong to the Shule.
As part of this process Rabbi Ronnie Figdor was appointed CEO and commenced work in January 2012, and assists Rabbi & Rebbetzin Glasman as key figures in this development.