Our Ministers

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence is Chief Minister of The Great Synagogue, Sydney. He is a religious advisor to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies (NSWJBD). Rabbi Lawrence is a founder member and director of the Jewish Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS).

He has an MA (hons) in Jurisprudence from St Catherine's College, Oxford University. Rabbi Lawrence qualified as a rabbi in Jerusalem attending Yeshivat Knesseth Beth Eliezer and Yeshivat Hamivtar on a Stanley Kalms Fellowship. He also graduated the Shaal & the Rothschild Foundation training courses for Diaspora rabbis. In Israel Rabbi Lawrence lectured in the adult education program of the NCSY Israel Centre.

Rabbi Lawrence has a background in both informal and formal education. After university he served for three years as the National Executive Director of the Association of Jewish Sixth Formers. In this capacity he was a coordinator of the informal sixth form program at the Jewish Free School in London. Rabbi Lawrence was also a research assistant to Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks for his 1990 Reith Lectures.

After his semicha (rabbinic ordination), he served for two years as deputy head of Jewish Studies at Carmel College boarding school.

Among his various activities in London he was on the Education Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, led five study tours to Israel and in his student days was co-ordinator of the Oxford campaign for Soviet Jewry. He was also secretary of the Oxford University CriminologyPenology Society and a member of the Oxford Union.

Rabbi Lawrence has wide-ranging interests from computers to environmental issues, magic, computer animation as well as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Rabbi Lawrence presented the Jewish welcome to Pope Benedict XVI when he visited Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008.

Rabbi Lawrence is a regular lecturer at Limmud & LimmudOz. Popular presentations include:

  • Compatibility or Conflict - Halacha and the Law of the Land
  • The Gift of Life: Organ Donation in Halacha
  • Darwin, Dawkins, Doubt & Devotion
  • Master Chumash in 60 Minutes
  • Magic & Miracles – a Jewish Perspective

Before arriving in Sydney, where he took over The Great Synagogue pulpit from Rabbi Raymond Apple, Rabbi Lawrence was senior rabbi of the Auckland Hebrew Congregation for seven years. He was a founder member of the Auckland Interfaith Council; he established the Kosher Kiwi Licensing Authority in New Zealand and has produced a wide range of publications and guides to Jewish life. He was a regular speaker at the annual CCJ and CCM inter-meetings.

His role with the Auckland community has included close involvement with Kadimah College, liaison on a variety of issues with the New Zealand Government, interfaith work, public speaking and broadcasting.

He is married to Mandy, who has a post-graduate qualification in health psychology. They have four children ranging in age from 6 to 20, Devora, Bracha, Shira and Rafi.


Cantor David Hilton

Rev David Hilton


Chazan David Hilton joined The Great Synagogue in 2008.

Born and educated in London, David has been professionally employed in sales and marketing and for some years has run his own highly successful kosher catering company which, among other contracts, has provided 6000 meals per day over the past nine years for the English Limmud conference.

His musical career began at the age of six when he joined his local synagogue choir and by the age of eight he was a boy soloist at Covent Garden.

At 18 he won several opera scholarships and was admitted into the master class of famed singer Titto Gobbi.

Unfortunately the death of his father meant he could not continue as a professional singer but he has retained membership of major Jewish choirs as a soloist since 1964.

From 1975 he has acted as chazan for the Mill Hill Synagogue and has davened for the High Holydays in Birmingham , Edgware, Mill Hill and Auckland (for eight years) where he worked with Rabbi Lawrence .

He has appeared in countless charity productions over the years and has regularly given solo performances.

David has also taught numerous Bar Mitzvah pupils as well as taken many adult education classes and served as co-chairman of Limmud with which he has been involved for 20 years.

He ran the senior cheder at Mill Hill Synagogue for seven years and instituted a Bar Mitzvah Breakfast program for boys and their fathers.

His wife Stephanie is a specialist in the education of autistic children, so David has also been involved with both handicapped and behaviourally disturbed children.

Rabbi Raymond Apple

Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple AO RFD

Emeritus Rabbi

Rabbi Apple retired in 2005 after many years as Australia’s highest-profile rabbi and a leading spokesman for Judaism.

After heading London congregations at Bayswater and Hampstead, he was senior rabbi of the Great Synagogue from 1972-2005, and was the guide and mentor of other synagogues and organisations, including the Women’s Tefillah Group.

He was born and educated in Melbourne and also studied in London. He has degrees in arts, law, history, religion and education, a Doctorate of Laws honoris causa from NSW University and is an Honorary Fellow of Sydney University.

He was an army reserve chaplain for 15 years and from 1988-2006 senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force. He had two terms of office as chairman of the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services.

He has taught at Sydney and NSW Universities and is Master of Mandelbaum House at Sydney University. He has lectured at universities and seminaries in several countries.

For 30 years he was judge/registrar of the Sydney Beth Din. He is life rabbinic governor of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australian and New Zealand, of which he had two terms as president. He is patron and past president of the Australian Jewry and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, and has held office in many public bodies.

He has had a long involvement in inter-faith dialogue and is joint president of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews and a life member and former chairman of the NSW Council. He was a founder of the Christian-Jewish Luncheon Club in Sydney and of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews.

In Freemasonry he is Past Junior Grand Warden and Past Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT.2

He writes the weekly Oz Torah, with a world-wide email circulation. He has written articles, academic papers and books and has frequently appeared on radio and television.

An Officer of the Order of Australia, he holds the Reserve Force Decoration, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and the Centenary of Federation Medal.

He and his wife Marian have four adult children and a number of grandchildren.

Take a look at the new OzTorah website – http://www.oztorah.com. It contains a searchable archive of Rabbi Apple's Torah essays, "Ask the Rabbi" pieces and feature articles. We are in the process of updating the site with content from the OzTorah emails from the past ten years – join our RSS feed to view the latest updates.