Newsletter No. 97
The Australian Jewish Historical Society Inc [NSW] publishes a newsletter four times per year. The items are from the latest newsletter. To contact or join the AJHS [NSW] go to our Contacts page. Contents of previous Newsletters are indexed
SOCIETY FINDS A NEW HOME
As the first stage in a bold plan to create a central research facility in Sydney for Australian Jewish history and genealogy, the Holocaust and also Religion and Judaica, the Society has been able to move to new premises next door to the Sydney Jewish Museum. This has also enabled us to comply with the request from the Mandelbaum Trust to vacate Mandelbaum House by 31 December 2012. In due course, it is hoped to house the Falk Library, presently at The Great Synagogue, and the Archive of Australian Judaica, presently at the Fisher Library, at Sydney University, all under the one roof, along with the library and archives of the Sydney Jewish Museum.
After allowing for some time to settle in the Society will reopen on 22nd January 2013.
The new address is :- 146 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
The new telephone number is:- 9830-5145
The office hours are the same:- Tuesdays and Thursdays – 10:30 to 4:00
There is no change to the email or website addresses.
AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS
Two members have received recognition in the Australia Day Awards. Marianne Dacy AM, Curator of the Archive of Australian Judaica, has been honoured for her outstanding service, and especially her work in the field of interfaith dialogue. Jack Fisher OAM has been honoured for service to the Jewish community and its organisations, in particular the former Rookwood Jewish Cemetery Trust.
AJHS GOES FULL CIRCLE
Helen Bersten On 10 December 2012 the Australian Jewish Historical Society returned to its birth place, next door to the former Maccabean Hall building, now the Sydney Jewish Museum. Seventy-four years ago, in the library of that building, a 'meeting for the purpose of discussing and considering the formation of an Australian Jewish Historical Society' was held on the evening of Sunday 21 August 1938. Those present were Rabbi L. A. Falk, S.B. Glass, Mesdames S.B. Glass,W. Lawrence Cohen and her daughter Miss Marise Cohen (now Marise Brass the proud holder of AJHS No 1 membership and the only person still surviving from that meeting) as well as Messrs P.J. Marks, Herbert I. Wolff, Hirsch Munz, E. Green, S.B. Glass, A.A. Keysor, H.A Kresner, D.J. Benjamin, H.H. Glass and H. Brando. A notice had been inserted in the Hebrew Standard advertising the meeting and interest had been shown from not only NSW and Victoria but also from as far away as New Zealand. A Provisional Committee was appointed. The first business meeting was held in the library on the evening of Monday November 7, 1938 when Percy J. Marks occupied the chair and those present included K.R. cramp, president of the RAHS with his wife, John Goulston, Mr and Mrs. Simon Green, Mrs W. Lawrence Cohen, Miss Neridah Cohen (later Goodman), Dr. and Mrs. Eric Blashki, Messrs A. R. Rothfield, H. Munz, S.B. Glass, L. W. Cohen, E. Green, Victor Cohen, A.A. Keysor, J. Wolinski, D. Bolot, H.H. Glass, Max Brando. Rules drawn up by the Provisional Committee were approved and office bearers elected: President Percy J. Marks, Vice-president Rabbi Falk, Treasurer Mr. A. D. Robb, Secretary Sydney B. Glass and a committee consisting of Mrs. W. L. Cohen, Messrs, Munz, Wolff, Victor Cohen and David Benjamin . Almost all of those early members have passed on but their names remain in the pages of the Journal which produced its first issue in 1939. One of our past long-serving secretaries, Louise Rosenberg, who will celebrate her 99th birthday in February 2013 still looks forward eagerly to receiving her copy and recently paid a visit to "approve" of our new home. The Society's first home was at the Great Synagogue and having "outgrown" this space moved to the "new" Mandelbaum House in 1996. Now, after almost 80 years, the Society has returned to the place where it was conceived. And that, as they say, is history.
2012 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING.
The highlight of the AGM held on 18 November 2012 was the paper presented by Niccolo Tofoni. Nic completed an Honours thesis in Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney in 2007 and a Masters degree in 2009 specialising in modern Israeli history and politics, which included a semester on exchange at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The topic of his paper was "The Australian Resolution: The Role of Australian Jewry in the Campaign to Rescind United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 (XXX)".
Nic presented a detailed account of the events leading up to the passing, on 10 November 1975, of UNGA Resolution 3379 (XXX) which declared Zionism to be a discriminatory ideology like apartheid, and thus should be considered a form of racism. He then went on to describe the influence of Australian Jewry on the Australian Government and their efforts to rescind UNGA Resolution 3379 at the United Nations in what became known as 'the Australian resolution'. Resolution 3379 was finally rescinded by the UNGA in 1991, being only the second UNGA resolution to be rescinded. Australia's role in beginning this process was significant.
The outcome of the elections held at the meeting was:-
President: - Russell Stern.
Honorary Treasurer: - Vacant.
Honorary Secretary: - Philip Moses.
Committee :- Sophie Caplan, Joe Kensell, Brian Lenny, Harry Lewis, Gary Luke, Helen Rasko, Suzanne Rutland, Jeanette Tsoulos, Sarah Vorchheimer.
Suzanne Rutland continues as Journal Editor and Jeannette Tsoulos will continue to look after genealogy enquiries.
(Well, perhaps, not so new anymore but we sure are glad they have decided to join the committee, ed.)
Joe grew up in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in the time when it was the centre of the Jewish community. Unlike Jewish boys of his era, in 1955 he started as a 16 year old apprentice with Burns Philp and spent the next 14 years travelling the world on various cargo ships. He came ashore in 1969 and was manager of a ship chandlery. He then became Sydney Secretary/Manager of the Commonwealth Shipowners Organisation and at this time married Rochelle, (grand-daughter of H I Wolff, long time secretary of The Great Synagogue). He continued his career in practical ship management, organising the loading/discharging for several shipping companies for almost twenty years. This allowed him to make frequent trips inter-state, and also to New Zealand so that he could regularly take his children to see their Kiwi cousins and their grandmother.
In 1990 he completed a graduate business degree, and continued his career mentoring Defence Force personnel to obtain civil qualifications for life after serving in the Australian Defence Forces and as a materials handling consultant for the P&O Group. This lead to interesting assignments in places as far apart as Weipa, the Northern Territory, Mozambique, and the Philippines. In 1995 he joined the Board of the Great Synagogue, unfortunately, following a heart attack in 2004 he was forced to resign. However, he continues to work as a volunteer in the office and as a volunteer guide. He is presently completing a Masters Degree in Information and Technology at UTS and is providing invaluable assistance cataloguing and managing the Society's archives and library.
Having been a member of the Society for over 40 years Brian has decided to put some personal effort into the Society's activities and has joined the Committee. He is enjoying his retirement which allows him to indulge his love of travel and spend quality time with his many grandchildren, nephews and nieces. He is particularly proud of his Australian heritage, his great Great Grandfather, Isaac Lenneberg arrived in 1862 from Germany and settled in Brisbane. He was a member of the Committee which established the first synagogue in Brisbane.
Brian has spent the major part of his working life in the 'Not for Profit' sector and would like to bring some of his experience to the Society. In particular, he is looking to bring new ideas and forward planning strategies to the Society to ensure its continuation and growth. He wants to carry out review process and asks if there are any readers/members who are interested in assisting him in a small, short term working group to review and make suggestions for the future of the Society to contact him at:
MAITLAND JEWISH CEMETERY – CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT PLAN
The Conservation Management Plan (CMP) commissioned by Maitland Council was presented to the Friends of Maitland Jewish Cemetery for final review on 21st December. Newly discovered historical information is included in the CMP about the "cottage" and the timber paling fence, both of which appear to have been removed from the site around the late 1930s or early 1940s. A newspaper clipping calling for tenders for construction revealed that the cottage was intended as a Tahara House. A land title document for a neighboring property has anecdotal information about the cemetery and a burial, the effects of flooding, and that granny Davis lived in the cottage in the early 1930s. Who is granny Davis? The appendices to the CMP contain a very detailed technical review of the state of the headstones along with recommendations for their preservation. The botanical section of the CMP has advice on selection of plants, with short, medium and long term procedures to ensure stabilisation of the soil, low watering and maintenance, and safety from harm to the monuments due to mowing.
These are a few of the other major recommendations. The cemetery should be submitted to the Heritage Council of NSW for inclusion as a significant state heritage site. The gravel track from the road passing through other properties should be registered as a public pathway to ensure permanent access. The paling fence should be re-installed to stop horses in the neighboring property from pushing over headstones when they graze the grass by pushing their heads through the wire fence. The Council should declare it a closed cemetery as any modern burial would be an infringement on the cemetery as an intact record of a vanished community.
A copy of the CMP will be lodged in the files of the AJHS. Incidentally, the representative of the AJHS on the Friends of the cemetery group has had to resign due to other committments. If anyone is interested in taking on this position please contact AJHS. At the next few meetings the Friends group will be deciding on priorities for a programme of work, possible sources of funds, and organisation of volunteer work groups.
ORIGINS OF THE MAITLAND JEWISH CEMETERY
Maitland Mercury, December 9th, 1846, p.2
COMMANDER ROBERT JOHNSTON RN
4 October 2013 marks the centenary of the first arrival in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) of the Royal Australian Navy vessels HMASs Australia, Sydney and Melbourne and a number of celebrations are planned. However, most people would be unaware that the first Australian born Royal Australian Naval Officer was Jewish.
Robert Johnston was born on the 9 March 1792. He was the second son of the First Fleet Jewish convict Esther Abrahams and her then (common law) partner, the Royal Marine officer Lieutenant George Johnston and the only godson of Governor Phillip. In 1800 he accompanied his father to England as an 8 year old 'volunteer' on HMS Buffalo and was enrolled in a school at Newington Butts on the outskirts (then) of London in the County of Surrey. In 1807 he joined HMS Malabar and subsequently served on the Namure as a midshipman and then on the Semaris. This was followed as master's mate on the Norge, which led to him joining the Asia as Lieutenant on the Portugal and North American station where he took part in the navy blockade and war of 1812 between England and the recently independent United States. He had the honour to attend Lord Nelson's funeral. He was then appointed to command an 'advice vessel' (despatch ship). At the end of the war he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant and returned to the Asia.However, with the reduction in the servicemen numbers in the English navy, he obtained leave and returned to NSW in 1816.
In November 1818 he was a member of Sir John Jamison's party which explored the Warragamba River from its junction with the Nepean River to the junction with the Cox River. Then in December 1821 he took the schooner "Schnapper" into Bateman Bay where he explored the river flowing into the Bay which he named the River Clyde. He later returned and explored this river with Alexander Berry and Hamilton Hume. Then when in Port Macquarie with Governor Macquarie he saved the vessel Lady Nelson from becoming a total wreck.
The death of his elder brother George was followed soon after by his father's death. Johnston then decided (apparently reluctantly) to resign from the English Navy and took up farming at George's Hall, Bankstown, with his younger brother David. In 1829 he tried to have his mother declared insane so that he would have early access to the family estate at Annandale which under his father's will belonged to Esther and was then to be inherited by Robert. However the application was unsuccessful. In 1831 he married Fannie Weller and they subsequently had seven sons and two daughters. In 1865 he was promoted Commander RN. He died at the family property in Annandale on 8 September 1882.
A 20th century descendent of Esther Abrahams and George Johnston who also became an officer of note in the Royal Australian Navy was the late Rear Admiral Sir David Martin KCMG AO who was Governor of NSW in 1988 – 1990.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT.
Anna Marks is continuing to conduct the Oral History Project initiated by Sophie Gelski and is looking for additional subjects for her and her team to interview. Anna is looking for fourth or fifth generation Australian Jewish men and women aged over 80. These individuals are of particular interest because they have witnessed and lived through the following events: growing up Jewish during the 1920s; the Great Depression of the 1930s; the 'anti-refugee' feeling in the late 1930s; the outbreak of the Second World War; awareness of the Holocaust, the Dunera experience; the appearance of Japanese submarines in Sydney harbour; the post war migration including Holocaust survivors, Hungarians, South Africans, Russians and Israelis. The establishment of the State of Israel has changed the face and participation in the Australian Jewish community today. You DON'T have to be FAMOUS or EXCEPTIONAL to be eligible, your personal story is important.
If you are interested in participating and willing to share your story or are able to suggest a family member or friend who would be willing to participate, Contact:
Anna Marks (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ph:(02) 9329 9888; Mob 0418 965 827.
A new member of Anna's team is David Samuels. David is an experienced interviewer having acquired his skills over many years in the legal profession where he worked for a number of government departments including State Attorney General, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Department of Labour and Industry, Workcover Authority and culminating with the Environment Protection Authority from which he retired as Principal Legal Officer in 2007. He has also been very involved with in communal affairs having been President of both Bankstown and Illawarra Synagogues. He has also been President of Syd Einfeld B'nai B'rith Unit, where he remains an active member.
PUBLICATIONS FOR SALE.
A reminder that Society publications are available for purchase.
THE SOCIETY'S JOURNALS – COMPLETE YOUR COLLECTION.
The Society continues to reorganise the archives. There are still surplus copies of most Journals and these are being offered to Members at no cost. Copies can be collected from the office on Tuesdays or Thursdays. We will also mail them out if the postage is paid. Please ring on (02) 9518-7596 or email to email@example.com.
Philip Moses. Newsletter Editor.
Contributions to the Newsletter are most welcome. They can be mailed to AJHS Newsletter Editor, 146 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.