The Early Days

by Maurie Nossell, son of the late Rev. Nathan Nossell, co-founder of MHC

“Where will we hold our Rosh Hashanah services this year? Someone has booked the Moorabbin Town Hall ahead of us.”

This was the worried question asked by a committee member of the then Southern Districts Hebrew Congregation.

“Don’t worry,” said my father “I’m moving into my new home before Rosh Hashanah. If I delay delivery of the Lounge and Dining room furniture till after Rosh Hashanah we’ll fit them all in.

 So it was, in Sept. 1949, that my father davened the Rosh Hashanah Services in our new home with a small kitchen table for reading the Torah, a China cabinet for an Ark & several backless wooden benches to seat 83 congregants in the lounge, dining rooms and entrance hall of our home. 

The old Moorabbin Town Hall was available for Yom Kippur, so the 100 or so who attended were accommodated.

 IIn those days, our only regular services were the High Holydays, so my father suggested we hold weekly Shabbos services in our home. This was agreed and although I had to sometimes knock on a few doors, we usually got a minyan. I was Bar Mitzvah in August that year in my Grandparents Carlton Shule known as Stone’s Shule. (My Bar Mitzvah teacher was Rev. E. Loebenstein who is Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum’s grandfather.)

 The committee wanted to buy a block of land to build a shule. This was the subject of much debate, as my father didn’t want to walk to Brighton and back for each service. The majority finally decided to purchase land on Marriage Rd, which caused my father, several committee members, and myself to break away and form the Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation.

 Now there were two Shabbos services being held in private homes within a couple of miles of each other. They did not directly compete, but since there are only a limited number who will come to Shabbos services regularly both Brighton and Moorabbin struggled for Minyanim. Nonetheless they continued to try to gain sufficient funds to build Shules. Brighton was the first to erect their hall, then the beautiful shule that today is the Brighton Hebrew Congregation.

 On April 20th 1952, the Foundation Stone of the Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation was laid by the then Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Rabbi Israel Brodie, who traveled from England for the occasion. Both sides of Politics were well represented by State and Federal MP’s and Senators as well as the local Mayors and Councilors. Virtually every Jewish congregation, organisation or club attended. Hopes were very high that day that there would be enough funds pledged to at least start building the shule.

Sadly, this was not to be, and on April 20th 1958, six years to the day after the foundation stone was laid, my father died after a long illness without ever seeing his dream of a new shule fulfilled.

The determination of Mr. Yanki Crafti to see the shule built was of the highest order. He, together with the other members, strove incessantly to achieve this goal. His son Nathan was the first person to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah at the Moorabbin Shule (in 1961). My late mother was also able to spend several years attending the Shule until her death in 1967.

 I wish my fellow congregants L’shona Tovah and well over the fast and I know that you are just as proud as I am to be a member of the Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation.

 Maurie Nossell had been unaffiliated with our congregation for many years. Three years ago, after a series of fortuitous circumstances, Maurie and his wife Sara, resumed acquaintance with the shule and Maurie became a regular, and a friend.

In late June I commissioned Maurie to record his memories for publication.

He began that night and finished it 3 days later, the day before his sudden and untimely passing at the age of 68.

The above essay was found on his desk.

May this be a fitting memorial to Moshe Aryeh ben Reb Nosson, Alav HaShalom.