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Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton

Chief Minister and Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton has been Chief Minister of The Great Synagogue since 2015. Born in Manchester, England, Rabbi Elton earned an MA in History at Queens’ College, Cambridge and a PhD in Jewish History at Birkbeck, University of London. For seven years he worked in the Ministry of Justice in London and then studied for four years at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) in New York. There, he was editor of its journal, a member of its Advanced Kollel and winner of the prize for excellence in Talmudic study.

As part of his pastoral training Rabbi Elton undertook residencies as a hospital chaplain and leading a grief support group. He received Semicha from YCT in June 2015, and in addition has Semicha from Rabbi Chaim Rapoport of London. In addition to his 2014 book, Britain’s Chief Rabbis and the Religious Character of Anglo-Jewry, 1880–1970, he has authored several articles on Anglo-Jewish and Australian Jewish religious history and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of London. He is also an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney, Jewish Chaplain to the Returned Services League (NSW Branch) and Orthodox Rabbinic Consultant to the both the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

He sits on the Committees of Mandelbaum House, the Australian Jewish Historical Society and the New South Wales Council of Christians and Jews, of which he is a former President. Rabbi Elton is married to Hinda Young are they are proud parents of a daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzie).

Rabbi Elton and Hinda are excited to be leading The Great Synagogue. They are dedicated to sustaining a warm and vibrant community, with a love for Judaism and for each other.

Please feel free to contact Rabbi Elton via email to  about any matter, large or small.




Rabbi Phil Kaplan 

Minister and Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Phil Kaplan grew up in Queens and Long Island, New York. He graduated from CUNY-Queens College with a BA in Jewish Studies. He received semicha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York in June of 2019. During his studies, Rabbi Phil served as rabbinic intern at Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford, CT, Congregation Sherith Israel in Nashville, TN, and at Congregation Tiferet Israel in Austin, TX. He also completed the AIPAC Leffell Fellowship, the iCenter for Israel Education Fellowship, a Certificate of Spiritual Leadership and Social Impact from New York University and one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, TN. Prior to arriving in Sydney, Rabbi Phil sang with renowned Jewish acappella group, Six13, for seven years.

Rabbi Phil, his wife Abra, and their son, Roee Yaakov, live in Woolloomooloo. The Kaplans enjoy hosting Shabbat meals and other events at their home.

At The Great, Rabbi Phil is heavily involved in teaching, pastoral care, leading services as Chazzan with the Great Synagogue Choir, coordinating events for children and young adults and supporting Rabbi Elton in all aspects of ministerial work. Rabbi Phil is also the contact person for any inquiries relating to conversion. Rabbi Phil has a passion for building warm and welcoming Jewish community.

He welcomes you to reach out to him at  




Rabbi Mendel Kastel OAM

Rabbinic Fellow

Rabbi Mendel Kastel has been providing Rabbinic expertise to the Sydney community for over 20 years. He has taken a particular interest in social welfare, and has been the driving force behind various youth and welfare organisations such as Point Zero, WAYS (Waverley Action for Youth Service) and J Junction.

He is currently Chief Executive Officer of Jewish House, a leading Sydney Jewish charity, offering social services to the Jewish and wider community. After 15 years of service at the Great Synagogue, Rabbi Kastel joined the Jewish House at the beginning of 2008. His efforts have seen the Jewish House grow and develop, becoming an expert provider of crisis services in the Sydney community.

In 2015, he rejoined The Great as Rabbinic Fellow, offering consultancy and support to the Synagogue.






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 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.

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 OzTorah website. 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.

Wed, 1 December 2021 27 Kislev 5782