We present to you a recently discovered historic film taken in Melbourne Australia in 1963. It documents events organized by Rabbi Sholom Gutnick OB”M whose 2nd Yortzait is this week on the 25 of Iyyar
“The World’s Largest Sukkah,” on the grounds of the Yeshivah Centre, was a major sensational project of Tzeirei Agudas Chabad, which was then called “Yeshivah Youth,” and Bnos Chabad.
Seen talking to the children is Rabbi Shmuel Gurevitch who together with Uri Kaplun ran the yeshivah youth organization is seen.
This was during Chol HaMoed Sukkos, 5724, late 1963 — long years before Internet, before cell-phones, before social media. Nevertheless, hundreds of boys and girls were contacted, and they streamed in from all over Melbourne to join in the excitement.
You can see how enthused they were when they discovered that they were being photographed by a movie camera
In the course of the program, side-by-side with all kinds of attractions and activities, every boy and girl enjoyed lunch in the huge sukkah at the Yeshivah College at 92 Hotham street and joined in all the relevant berachos (many for the first time). And, of course, each took his or her turn at saying a berachah over a lulav and esrog. Reb Abba Pliskin showed them, one by one, what to do, and said the berachah with each of them.
His command of English at the time was not that great. Nevertheless, several years after one of those little boys had enjoyed those hours in the World’s Largest Sukkah, he arrived at the Yeshivah Centre one day and asked to be taught for his bar-mitzvah by “the little rabbi with the long beard…”
The first Sukkamobile in Melbourne was organized in 1963 by Rabbi Sholom Gutnick who can be seen with his nephew Mottle Gutnick
Rabbi Sholom Gutnick drove the Sukkahmobile attached to his car to the schools and various locations all around Melbourne. As the Rabbi of the largest shul in Melbourne a Dayen in the beis din and teacher at the Yeshivah, he was a Chosid at heart and found the time to help with Yeshivah Youth activities.
As the Sukkahmobile made its way through the streets of Melbourne, the jaws of thousands of onlookers dropped in amazement. In addition, the principals of several non-Jewish schools were asked in advance to allow a lunchtime visit by the Sukkahmobile, which would enable their many hundreds of Jewish pupils to fulfill the season’s religious obligations, and they were most co-operative.
Every boy and girl made a berachah over a lulav and esrog, took a seat in the sukkah for a minute or two, said a berachah over a cookie plus a Leisheiv BaSukkah, and stepped out with a big smile. One headmistress was so touched at the sight that she asked if she, too, could be allowed to take a seat in the sukkah:
Each child was also given an explanatory page, prepared for various age-groups, to take home and share the experience with his family.
This video documents camp gan Israel in the Basen.
Seen is Rabbi Binyomin Klien who later become one of the Rebbe’s secretaries who was sent at the end of 1961 on Merkos Shlichus for 3 years together with his wife Leah. He was involved in strengthening Yiddishkeit the community at large and especially with the youth programs. He received a letter in 1962 from the Rebbes secretary, Rabbi Chadakov encouraging him to be involved in Lubavitch youth in Australia. He traveled to different states around Australia and also New Zealand were he strengthening Yiddishkeit and also distributed Kehos books including talks and tails. He gave many shiurim and he even accomplished that they should teach more Jewish studies in the mostly secular Mt Scopus school Mrs. Klien taught in beis rivka and was involved in the operation of mesibos Shabbos.
Seen is the young boy Sholom Ber Groner now a shliach in south Africa Also seen Shaya Kantor grandson of Moshe Zalmen Feiglin the first Lubavitcher to settle in AustraliaSeen with his orange beard is Uri Kaplun who ran the yeshivah youth in the early years of its establishment and was a teacher in the Yeshivah College.
Seen is Rabbi Chaim Gutnick a distinguished Rabbi in Melbourne who came to visit the camp gan Israel is seen enjoying a game of cricket at with the boys.
This video was presented Lelu nishmas Reb sholom Dov ber ben Reb Mordechai Zev hachoen Gutnick OB”M.
A special thanks to Meyer Gutnick who brought this to the public for the first time, Lelu nishmas Reb Sholom Dov Ber ben Reb Mordechai Zev hachoen Gutnick and Devorah bus Reb Avraham OB”M.