About us

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ARK Centre?

  • Is ARK Centre an Orthodox Shule?
    ARK Centre is an Orthodox Community Centre with a Shule in the middle. We offer a range of services and programs in strict adherence with halachah (Jewish law).
  • Do men and women sit together?
    The ARK Centre Shule is on a single level.  Men and women sit seperately but sit facing each other with a plant-filled Mechitzah, and the Bimah, between them.
  • Are women called to the Torah?
    ARK Centre is an Orthodox Shule, and as such, women are not called to the Torah.
  • What part can women play in the service?
    We ask women to read the Prayers for the State Of Israel, The Israeli Defence Forces, The Congregation and Prayer for the State in English during each service.
    In certain circumstances ARK Centre holds women’s only minyanim.
    Women are welcome to be part of our singing group, the ARKapella’s.
    Women are invited to say Kaddish for a loved one during the service.
  • What regular services do you offer?
    We hold a weekly Friday night Shabbat service which starts with a Kiddush prior to the service, as well as a weekly Shabbat morning service. Shacharit services are held on Rosh Chodesh as well as on Thursday mornings each month.  See our weekly newsletter for times and dates.  Click here to sign up for the newsletter (scroll down till you see ‘Sign up to our Newsletter’).
  • Is there music on a Friday night?
    In Summer when daylight savings allows, we have wonderful acoustic musical instruments to accompany the first part of the Shabbat service until Shabbat is officially brought in. Music is a highlight of all our services and, as such, singing is also a key component with or without accompaniment form instruments.


Who Comprises the Leadership?

  • Who are the ARK Centre Rabbis?
    Rabbi Shneur Reti-Waks is the Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann and Rebetzin Mushka Kantor Kaltman are the Rabbi and Rebetzin for Programs and Engagement. To read more about each of them, and to see who comprises the Management Team, click here
  • Are the Rabbis members of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria (RCV)?
    Rabbi Shneur is a full member of the RCV. Rabbi Gabi is an Associate Member.
  • Who is on the Board?
    To view the full list of Board of Directors please click here

Who Can Attend ARK Centre?

  • Can I attend a service if I am not a member?
    ARK Centre welcomes all families and individuals wishing to belong to an Orthodox Shule.  Come along to our Shabbat services and see what we are all about.  Membership is required prior to High Holydays and is renewable before each Rosh Hashanah.
  • Can I attend a service to say Kaddish even if I am not a member?
    Men and women are invited to say Kaddish. If they are unable, or would prefer, one of the rabbonim will say Kaddish on their behalf. For those who are not members but wish to fulfil this mitzvah we encourage sponsorship of the Kiddush.
  • Do I have to be a member to have a simcha at ARK Centre?
    At ARK Centre a call up, wedding and Bar / Bat Mitzvah entail more than ‘just’ the day of the event. To benefit from all that is on offer for the simcha and indeed throughout the year membership is part of our fee structure.
  • Will the Rabbi perform a Chuppah or Bar Mitzvah off site from the Ark?
    The Rabbi will be pleased to officiate a wedding off-site. In fact the rabbi regularly travels to a variety of locations to perform weddings. Bar and Bat Mitzvot generally take place at ARK Centre.
  • How do I book a simcha?
    For  more information please contact Jackie Sher, Events and Programs Manager via operations@arkcentre.com.au.
  • How do I ask a Rabbi to officiate a funeral?
    Due to the time imperative we have emergency protocols in place for when a loved one passes away. We recommend contacting the office on 03 8658 4044 as the first port of call. An after hours message advises the best emergency contact number.  For more information on funerals please click here

Does ARK Centre Facilitate Orthodox Conversions?

  • Does ARK Centre do Orthodox conversions?
    ARK Centre now has a formal Orthodox Conversion program whereby candidates are educated in both the theoretical and practical elements of leading an Orthodox life. Rabbi Shneur, with the support of Rabbi Gabi and Rebetzin Mushka, teach conversion candidates. ARK Centre does not conduct conversions, but rather acts as educator and facilitator prior to candidates going before the estemmed Dayanim of the Beit Din of Gush Etzion in Israel.
  • Which Beit Din in Israel does ARK Centre have a relationship with?
    ARK Centre has fostered a close relationship with the Beit Din of Gush Etzion in Alon Shevut, Israel. A representative of that Beit Din visits ARK Centre regularly as a scholar in residence.
  • How long does an Orthodox conversion take?
    Each participant has a different set of circumstances and is at a different stage of immersion in the Orthodox community when they come to us.  The very minimum would be 12 months to learn and live the full Yearly Cycle though on average the process takes around 18 months.
  • Is every conversion candidate successful?
    The nature of an Orthodox conversion means it requires a high level of commitment and a significant change to day-to-day living. Approximately 20% of candidates do not continue to conversion.
  • How do I find out more about the conversion through ARK Centre?
    To have a confidential discussion regarding your personal circumstances, please contact the office to make an appointment with Rabbi Shneur.

What Does ARK Centre do for Bar and Bat Mitzvah?

  • Do you have a program for Bar or Bat Mitzvah children?
    The ARK Centre B’Nei Mitzvah Program is recommended for boys and girls in Year 6. It runs on a Friday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm, with families joining their children at our Kabbalat Shabbat service afterwards.  The B’Nei Mitzvah program runs in Terms 1, 2 and 3 each year with a Graduation ceremony being held in Term 4.  The B’Nei Mitzvah Program offers a range of activities within the 30 sessions that help young people to explore their identity – as young Orthodox Jews and as citizens of a rapidly changing world. For more information click here
  • Do you offer Bar Mitzvah lessons to learn a Parsha?
    Some schools teach parshiot as part of their offering. ARK Centre has a Bar Mitzvah teacher who can teach the relevant Parsha at a reasonable fee. Once you have met with Rabbi Shneur and confirmed details for your son’s Bar Mitzvah the office can put you in touch with the teacher should you wish to take up this option.
  • What do you offer for girls in the way of a Bat Mitzvah ceremony?
    The format of the Bat Mitzvah ceremony is open to discussion with the family to determine what is going to be most suitable and meaningful to the Bat Mitzvah girl.

Does ARK Centre Officiate Life Cycle Events?

  • For information on our approach to all lifecycle events – Bris / Baby Naming, Bar / Bat Mitzvah, Call up / Wedding & Funeral / Consecration please click here

Why Should I Become a Member?

  • How much is membership?
    Individual membership is $500 per person, with a family membership of $1500 for family members living in the same household.  Membership enables ARK Centre to continue to thrive and offer a multitude of services, events and educational offerings.  Meals, events, educational offerings and other services are always offered at a discounted rate for members. To become, or renew membership, please click here
  • Does membership give me an allocated seat?
    ARK Centre is a community centre where inclusiveness is high on the priority list.  As such, there are no allocated or set seats for any of our services.
  • How do I get your weekly newsletter?
    Head to our home page and toward the bottom there is an option to sign up for our newsletter. Click here to go there now

Does ARK Centre Offer Kosher Catering?

  • Is the food Kosher?
    Ark Catering offers Mehadrin Kosher food.  Catering with KA certification is available on request.
  • How do I buy food?
    ARK Catering offers Shabbat Take Away meals each week. Click here to read more, view the menu and find out how to place your order. Or email catering@arkcentre.com.au. You can also follow us on your socials – Facebook & Instagram @ark_catering
  • How does function catering work?
    There are a number of menu options depending on your requirements.  Email operations@arkcentre.com.au to find out more.

Can I Hire ARK Centre as a Venue?

  • Can I hire the whole centre or just one room?
    Ark Centre can be hired as 1, 2, or 3 rooms, depending on your requirement. To learn more about seating capacities, configures or to make an enquiry click here
  • Can I hire a space on an ongoing basis for classes etc.?
    ARK Centre spaces can be hired on a one-off or permanent basis, depending on availability.
  • Is there parking available if I hire space during the week or on a Sunday?
    Depending on the time of the year, weekday off-street parking may be available.  Off-Street parking is available on Sundays.
  • Can I bring my own food or caterer?
    All food at ARK Centre must be provided by ARK Catering due our Kosher status.
  • Do I have to be a member to hire space?
    Anyone can request to hire space at ARK Centre.  Email operations@arkcentre.com.au for more information.

Does ARK Centre Offer any Pastoral Care?

  • I have a sick friend or relative, can someone visit them?
    ARK Centre’s Pastoral Care initiative is run by Gabbi Sar-Shalom with the assistance of appropriately trained volunteers.  Gabbi is a highly trained professional in the area as well as being very approachable and deeply compassionate. Despite our efforts to be inclusive, there are always some in our community who feel isolated, often due to illness. Please contact us at Gabbi on gabbi@arkcentre.com.au if you know someone who would benefit from a call, a visit or a meal.
  • How do I get involved in Pastoral Care as a volunteer?
    Please email gabbi@arkcentre.com.au to find out how you can get involved in the program.

Message from Rabbi Shneur

We, in Australia, are very blessed to be living in such a wonderfully free and fortunate society especially considering so much of humanity is still, or again, living in war, hunger, disease and poverty. But physical freedom, health and prosperity only goes so far. It is a matter of fact that mental health in our society is a real issue from eating disorders, depression, to alcoholism and violence.

Part of the reason for this, I believe, is the disconnectedness people feel from any sense of real community, social media notwithstanding. Add to this the grind of modern life and our hectic schedules, the blessing of technology has bestowed upon us and we easily find ourselves rundown physically and emotionally. Finally, with blessed liberal freedoms we seem to be more prone to a high level of sterility in our lives. Liberalism has ensured we don’t encroach on the rights of others to live the good life as they see fit so long as they are respectful of everyone’s right to the same freedom. But what it hasn’t given us is the story of what the good life is. According to the pre-eminent neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, when you have a ‘why’, a reason to live, then almost any ‘how’ is tolerable. Coming from a Holocaust survivor of one of the most notorious death camps this surely carries some weight.

At ARK Centre we are looking to address these issues. First and foremost, we are building a dynamic community. Secondly, we are trying to establish a refuge from the pressures of life. And finally we would like to be an organisation that promotes the good life. How we do this is by creating a community, centred around a physical building, out of which an array of different classes, activities, programs and opportunities for spiritual engagement are available.

We aim to be a space where people of all ages and a myriad of different backgrounds come and be – hang out, eat, develop their minds and their souls.

The opportunities are endless. I look forward to bringing our vision to fruition together.

Rabbi Shneur

About ARK Centre

Through our openness and inclusive approach to Judaism, ARK Centre has redefined the 21st Century synagogue within the context of Modern Orthodoxy and with a greater focus on community needs, with our multi-purpose space, that provides a home for enrichment and engagement. The whole community is welcome to come together to participate in all we have on offer.

Over seven years in East Hawthorn, and three years at Cato St, ARK Centre has grown to be more than just a meeting place, or a shule – it is the centre of Jewish life in our area, stretching out to hundreds of Jewish families who are looking for somewhere to feel free to express their Jewishness in their own unique way.

Fundamentally, we’re delivering to a need / gap that exists in our community. We pride ourselves on not being like everyone else. Three core pillars underpin everything we do:

o Tikkun Olam – philanthropy with a broad range of organisations, domestic and international
o Spirituality – not just doing for the sake of it but engaging in a real, authentic, meaningful and enjoyable way
o Wellbeing – body, mind and soul…the whole person

If you walk into ARK Centre on a typical Friday night, you will see around eighty to a hundred people of all ages from small children to seniors. They are praying, singing, talking, eating, drinking. The remarkable aspect of this is that before ARK Centre was founded, only a handful of them would have been doing anything like that.

Why are they here? ARK Centre gives them a social, spiritual and gastronomic experience that is engaging and attractive, and allows them to connect to their Judaism in a way that is Modern Orthodox, interesting and relevant to them, while still being based on our ancient traditions.

Coming on a Friday night opens the way to a host of other Jewish experiences – an occasional Shabbat morning, coming along to a chag to be part of the service, or to join in one of the many events that ARK Centre has become renowned for, such as Purim, Pesach, Sukkot or Channukah. Maybe they might now choose to have a bar or bat mitzvah for their child, or join in Rabbi Shneur’s discussion groups. Or join a one of our many class and programs, or become one of our vital volunteers who ensure that every event we hold is well run and successful. There are so many possibilities and more being added all the time.

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