• Strictly Jewish: The Secret World of Adass Israel (SBS)Source: SBS
In Strictly Jewish, Shlomo Abelesz, Raizel Fogel and Rabbi Aryeh Goldman reveal a community steeped in ancient rites and rituals.
16 Mar 2016 - 2:47 PM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2016 - 9:28 AM

Shlomo Abelesz

The Elder

Shlomo Abelsez

Shlomo was born in Hungary and raised inside Adass Israel in Melbourne from the age of three. But whereas some others in Adass Israel are totally cut off from wider society, Shlomo has become the reclusive community’s unofficial multimedia guru. His e-newsletter bulletins have become somewhat famous inside the close-knit sect. He doesn’t just announce births, marriages and deaths within a click of these milestones happening, he is also integral to the Adass Israel community’s womb-to-tomb free services. If someone needs a pram for a newborn, Shlomo posts it on his bulletin board, and within 24 hours a pram is found, all free of charge. He also acts as a human filter, surfing the internet for news that is relevant to his community and kosher enough for their eyes. And he is an unofficial spokesman, appearing in the film chatting to Channel Nine news after the assault. Finally, as an elder of Adass Israel, he knows virtually everyone within the community and is a popular figure on Ripponlea's high street.


Raizel Fogel

The Matriarch

Raizel was born into Adass Israel. A self-described “rebel”, she also dips her toes in the outside world, especially with her volunteer work helping mothers through childbirth (and there are many!). She has plenty of experience: at the time of writing she has 37 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her world is often filled with the sound of young children. She also works, running the local kosher delicatessen with her husband Yankel. Eshel, the name of their business, is kosher by Adass Israel standards, under the supervision of the Adass Israel Chief Rabbi, Avrohom Zvi Beck. Their deli is also a catering business for weddings, bar mitzvahs and the like, and she also serves the non-Adass Israel community and is therefore exposed to Jews and non-Jews more than the average Adass Israel member.


Aryeh Goldman 

The Rabbi

Aryeh was not born into the Adass Israel community. He is a rare exception, having been born a secular Jew and spent his first years living far from the Jewish community – in Greensborough, some 25 kilometres away from Ripponlea. His parents moved the family back into the Jewish community and Aryeh became a traditional Jew before his epiphany in his late teens when he decided to become not just an Orthodox Jew, but an ultra-Orthodox member of Adass Israel. A deeply spiritual man, he is now a rabbi whose job it is to teach the next generation. 


Strictly Jewish, the third documentary in three-part series Untold Australia, airs Wednesday 27 April on SBS.