There was some very invigorating discussion over one Succot afternoon that forms the basis of this post.Â We were talking about the Jewish Centre and how it could be that a facility this valuable was sitting empty over Yom Tov.Â Â All the while the Jewish CentreÂ could have been used to hostÂ activities to bring members of the community closer to the “peak season” of the Jewish religious calendar with overflow, introductory, unaffiliated and less intensive exposure to the festive events of Tishrei.Â
Many decades ago, it was philanthorpistsÂ with anÂ incredible sense of forsight that purchased land that now houses Carmel School, the Maurice Zeffert Home, Maccabi, and the Jewish Centre.Â How many communities in theÂ Jewish world have the luxury of such aÂ large and strategically significant plot of land, that is debt free, so close to the centreÂ of a major city?Â YetÂ sections of this asset remain squandered,Â with no tangible current plans toÂ redevelop this into a future modern and functional epi-centre of Jewish community life in Perth.Â Â Â
Back a couple of years ago there was a group of people that started to discuss a number of “future vision” issues including poossible ways to revamp or redevelop the Jewish Centre.Â The group went nowhere, but the fact that some people felt it necessary to get some discussion of this matter was an encouraging start.Â
The ideas proposed were to create a Jewish museum, youth facilities, a larger function centre, and a cultural precinct.Â Also, some space to cater for the growing Israeli population was considered worthy of further thought.
Our discussion last weekend took a differentÂ world view.Â A culturalÂ centre is well and good, but why not focus attention on where the real growth in Jewish life is – as a religiousÂ centre?Â This is a concept that wouldÂ not reject the cultural needs of the community.Â In fact all aspects of cultural Judaism could be embraced, but within a framework that would be fully inclusive of theÂ needs of aÂ contemporaryÂ Jewish community that has an active OrthodoxÂ core.Â Â
So here are some of the ideas.Â First of all, there are a growing number of “Jewish resort” destinations in Australasia and around the world.Â Peseach stays, conventions and convocations, learning events and seminars, are being hosted in holiday destinations such as the Gold Coast and Maryville.Â Why not tap into this market by building a hotel style centre with conference and function facilities, a restaurant, pool, gym?Â A type of Kimberley GardensÂ facility right in the heart of Jewish Perth could be developed withÂ the raising ofÂ venture capital, and then contracted out to professional management.Â A number of Eastern States holiday makers and event convenors would seriously consider a vacation to Perth if a facility such as this existed.Â Perth would be on the international Jewish map too.Â We would have a place for people to stay and a reason to promote “Jewish tourism”.Â A tower block of residential units for the “nearly retired” could also be constructed for semi-permanent use on extended leases.
Another suggestion is toÂ create a unique and modern Jewish womens precinct.Â Complete with recreational facilitiesÂ (gym and pool), aÂ day spa andÂ Mikveh,Â learning programs, and a range ofÂ facilitiesÂ that are for use byÂ women only, this would be a very unique and well utilised facility.Â Â
With the right type of thinking, anything is possible.Â Sadly for the past decade the Jewish Centre has been regarded by the community as a white elephant, not suitable for community functions and with no incentives or benefits returned to those who invest in membership.Â Whilst some bold and respected efforts have been made to refurbish the facilities have been made in recent years, it may well be time to think big again.Â We need a different style of building that can meet a different set of needs.Â Be it for the youth, women, cultural Jews, religious Jews, Israeli Jews, Zionists, sports mad, elderly, secular, educationally focussed, culinary buffs, singles, artsÂ lovers, gamblers,Â geneaogists, historians, perpetual whingers, or all of the above,Â the very many diverse needs of the community could be well served with a newÂ future focussed community centre.Â
Reality dictates thatÂ voluntary community management would doom this concept to failure.Â Any future facility would need to be a privatised trading entity, with aÂ user pays focus, and revenue streams that were sustainably secured by both residential and commercial tenents.Â
Any takers? Â Â Radical ideas perhaps, but not so unrealistic if the collective motivation of the community fell behind a proposal of this nature.Â