Cyclone hits Australia's Jewish suburbs

By Dan Goldberg, February 10, 2011
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Flash flooding triggered by a category five cyclone wreaked havoc on Melbourne's Jewish community last weekend.

Wild waters ripped through several suburbs heavily populated by the city's 50,000-strong Jewish community last Friday night, flooding at least four synagogues, two Jewish schools, a kosher café, the headquarters of the Australian Jewish News and the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Sephardi Synagogue was closed on Shabbat because the men's section was flooded, while other shuls suffered damage to halls, foyers and administrative areas.

Bialik College - one of the largest Jewish schools in Australia - was forced to close its kindergarten on Monday and Tuesday due to water damage.

"The streets were like rivers," said Yossi Aron, the religious affairs editor of the Jewish newspaper. "The water was waist-high in some places. People were affected all over the place. This is the worst I've ever seen."

The flooding was caused by the tail end of Cyclone Yasi, a category five storm that blitzed through Queensland last Thursday.

It came just weeks after devastating floods in north-eastern Australia.

    Last updated: 12:28pm, February 10 2011