Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, born on 27 December 1935, was an Australian rabbi who worked in England and Australia and retired to Israel. He was the Senior Rabbi of The Great Synagogue of Sydney between 1972 and 2005 and one of Australia's highest profile rabbis, considered the leading spokesman for Judaism in Australia. He passed away on 19 January 2024. May his memory be blessed.
His passing is a great loss for family and friends, of course, but also for the large number of readers who looked forward to his Torah articles, posted weekly on Arutz Sheva for many years.
Rabbi Apple was born in Melbourne, where he attended high school, continuing his education at the University of Melbourne, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws, then at the University of New England in Australia, gaining a Master of Literature degree, and finally at Jews' College (now called the London School of Jewish Studies), where he received a teaching diploma and rabbinic ordination.
He received a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) honoris causa from the University of New South Wales and Doctor of the University (D.Univ.) from the Australian Catholic University. He was also an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney, a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award of the University of New England and he also received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal and the Centenary of Federation Medal.
Rabbi Apple served London congregations until 1972, returning to Australia to take up the role of senior rabbi at The Great Synagogue in Sydney, where he served as a rabbinic judge and registrar for the Sydney Beth Din. He was an Australian Army Reserve chaplain for fifteen years, and in 1988-2006 senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force.
Rabbi Apple was awarded the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) and the Australian Defence Medal. He was also a chaplain to the NSW Police.
Interfaith dialogue was a lifetime interest of Rabbi Apple, who served as joint president and chairman of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, founded the Christian-Jewish Luncheon Club in Sydney, and encouraged dialogue with Islam. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2004 Birthday Honours, for "service to the community through promoting inter-faith dialogue and harmony, to raising awareness of social justice, ethical and spiritual issues, and to the Jewish community."
After retirement, Rabbi Apple made aliyah in 2006 with his wife Marian (née Unterman, the famous rabbinic family). He served as president of the Israel Regional section of the Rabbinical Council of America between 2016 and 2018.
Rabbi Apple died in Jerusalem on 19 January 2024, at the age of 88. He is survived by Marian, his wife of 63 years, children Shmuel, Riva, Adina and Benseon, 20 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.
Rabbi Apple wrote a number of books, and also published numerous articles on Jews, Jewish history, the Jews in Australia, and various Jewish and interfaith themes. He was the author of "OzTorah", a weekly e-mail service and website presenting insights into the Torah reading and an Ask the Rabbi forum.
The OzTorah archives are available on his website at http://www.oztorah.com and an example is brought below in his memory.
This week's Oz Torah selections include Tu Bishvat:
Q. Is there a Jewish view about women using make-up?
A. Yes, and it is in favour despite a custom in Talmudic times of singing the bride’s praises for not using cosmetics (Ket. 17a).
This custom was probably a delicate compliment to the bride as being so beautiful that she needed no make-up.
However it was an established obligation of a husband to provide his wife with cosmetics (Ket. 66b) ranging from face rouge to eye make-up (MK 9b).
A woman was also entitled to enhance her beauty by plaiting her hair and trimming her nails. Travelling salesmen would take their range of cosmetic preparations from community to community (BK 82a/b).
The only main problem with cosmetics is when they are used for wanton enticement – "walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet" (Isa. 3:16-16).
NEW YEAR FOR TREES
Trees are a constant theme of our literature, both metaphorically (e.g. Psalm 1) and literally (e.g. Deut. 20:19).
Trees and human beings are often compared, The Psalmist (Psalm 1:3) likens man to a tree: both grow if they are properly nourished.
The Midrash says that the righteous, like a tree, is strong and solid and like a tree he produces results. The Maharal of Prague says that if well rooted, both humans and trees grow upwards.
Chassidic philosophy says that a tree grows quietly and gradually, and so does a human being. You can’t see a tree actually growing or see the human spurt of growth; but both have observable results.
May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
(Note: Some of the information was taken from the Wikipedia biography)