The Australian Jewish Historical Society is dedicated to promoting the study of Jewry in Australia from 1788. Since its founding the Society has sought to compile and make available unique and authentic records relating to the Jewish people in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands via the acquisition and preservation of historically significant documents and materials. Equally, the Society has pursued the conservation of places of Jewish interest and continues to foster the interchange of information through lectures, discussions and exhibitions of historical interest or value.
Founded in August 1938 by Rabbi Leib Falk, Sydney Glass, Hirsch Munz and Percy Marks, the Society was initially focused on the publication of a journal and operated without an official address. Yet, under the long and dedicated stewardship of the Great Synagogue’s Rabbi Israel Porush the Society flourished, in time expanding to Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. After many years of adding to, storing and preserving its archives at various sites around Sydney, a home was ultimately found at the former Maccabean Hall in Darlinghurst. There, the Society’s assets are available to the public and academics and are used by the Sydney Jewish Museum to source material for displays and publications.
Through this website, the holdings of the Australian Jewish Historical Society are electronically accessible. The Society has a unique collection of documents spanning books, manuscripts, newspapers, historical records, audiotapes, videotapes and other printed electronic or audio-visual material. Material on almost every aspect of Jewish life is available, such as personal papers, photos, bound newspapers and corporate records sourced from individuals through to synagogues, communities, and Jewish organisations. The Society is continually building databases of communal interest including marriages, burials, military service and more.
The Society has been given the mandate by the NSW Jewish community to be the repository of archives of communal organisations and communal leaders. Today a growing collection of these invaluable records is housed in the Society’s secure climate controlled archive. The management and accessioning of new materials is overseen by the Society’s senior archivist and her team.
The Archive of Australian Judaica housed in the Rare Book Department of Fisher Library at Sydney University is also managed by the Society with the ultimate plan being that the resources of the Archive also being available on this website.
Significance assessment is the process of researching and understanding the meanings and values of a collection. The assessment process considers not just the physical collection, but incorporates all the factors which contribute to its significance including its history, provenance, associations, rarity and social or spiritual values, and comparison with similar collections. The results of the analysis are synthesised in a statement of significance, which is a readable summary of the values, meaning and importance of the collection.