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75 Years – The History of a Jewish Newspaper
To record the history of a newspaper (The Australian Jewish Times) which spanned the formative years of the community and mirrored the growth and development of Sydney Jewry, and today plays an ever more important role in communal life, is a timely and significant undertaking.
The Press is a mirror of the vitality and quality of the society it seeks to serve. The Jewish Press is no exception. The weaknesses of our small and isolated Community manifest themselves everywhere: in Jewish learning, in religious observance and in leadership. It is not surprising that also the only Jewish newspaper in Sydney should have suffered from anemia and malnutrition for many years. It is to the credit of its devoted servants that the Paper has survived so many straits and has in latter years somewhat caught up with the growth of the community. That the Paper was until recently a defender of the Establishment and often came into conflict with the forward looking elements is not really surprising in the context of the conservative character of our leadership.
The author has rightly drawn a. broader canvas than just reporting on the fate of the journal and its editors; she has related the narrow contingencies of the paper to the broader events of the day reported therein.
IF YOU WILL IT, IT IS NO DREAM
An extensive and personal story of the history off Sydney’s oldest and largest Jewish day school. The author, Professor Suzanne Rutland , is one of Australia’s most chronicler of Australian Jewish history and book written to celebrate 50 years since its founding is a mixture of academic scholarship and personal stories
It is hard to be a Jew in isolation. Two thousand years ago the sage Hillel taught ‘Do not separate yourself from the community’ . It is true that far more important than abstract theological creeds Jews need to belong to a family, a school, a teacher and a community. Without these basic ingredients, Jewish identity in a land such as Australia will vanish. In rural towns and villages, Jewish surnames can still be seen written on the shopfronts of the main street. They are silent witnesses. Those signs remind us of the Jewish dealers who carried their stock upon their back and who recognised a promising place to open a pub or to build a general store. Today the descendants of these pioneers are often only dimly aware of a distant and almost forgotten Jewish heritage.
This work of scholarship illustrates a different story. We can see the beginning of a community in the photographs of the solemn ceremony of 30 November 1910 when the Broken Hill synagogue’s foundation stone was laid. The shiny top hat and (the slightly dusty) frock coat of Solomon Saunders, president of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation, who officiated at the ceremony; Rev Zalel Mandelbaum in minister’s garb reading from a siddur; Abraham Rosenberg (who chaired the ceremony) wearing a pith helmet; the other men wearing formal bowler hats or informal white boaters; and the women shielded from the sun beneath a white umbrella are witnesses of a rare sight. The synagogue still stands today even though the community itself is but a memory. It is preserved in the handwritten minute books, cashbooks, the family names and stories that have now been handed on through generations.
The story of the arrival of Nazi war criminals to Australia (and the fact that it took 40 years before the Australian government took action), is a complex one and shall only be briefly outlined here. Immediately after the war, an army of Nazi collaborators and war criminals found refuge in Australia, presumably more than 5, 000. Many came through the International Refugee Organisation (IRO), which brought in 170,000 European displaced persons (DPs) between 1947 and 1951, sponsored by the Australian government on a twoyear work contract. In addition, another 30,000 were privately sponsored. Australia took in the largest number of DPs, after the United States, under the IRO program.
There are a number of reasons why Nazi war criminals entered Australia and other Western countries after the war. The Australian selection procedures were inadequate, with no formal policy. The focus was on the exclusion of ‘enemy aliens’ (Germans and Italians) rather than on Nazi collaborators.
Take Heart Again
In December 1981. the pioneer of the Fellowship of Jewish Doctors, Dr Isaac Friedman, died. At that time the Fellowship considered in detail a number of proposals for a suitable commemoration of his achievements. Dr Friedman was a man whose selflessness contributed enormously to the effective entry and assimilation into medical practice of many migrant doctors. His force continued throughout the years to serve the various purposes of the Fellowship under different leadership. It seemed, therefore, that the greatest tribute would be to record for posterity the history of the organisation which he founded.
This is a remarkable story and hopefully will be an inspiration to future generations. Here is a story of struggle and determination in the face of prejudice and discrimination. only one of many throughout the history of the Jewish people
Sion’s evolving understanding of its raison d’être in the Catholic Church and the Sisters’ subsequent commitment to Jewish/Christian dialogue worldwide, and, in particular, in Australia, were the result of several factors: reflection on the plight of European Jewry in World War 11, attentive listening to prophetic voices in the post–war era and courageous decision-making by the Congregation’s leadership. The atrocities of the Shoah were the catalyst for a radical change of mentality in the way the Congregation interpreted its vocation. From the 1950s to the rewriting of its Constitution in 1984, the Congregation, through subsequent general chapters, made sweeping changes to the Sisters’ prayer, apostolic ministries and indeed, the interpretation of their raison d’être and hence for the orientation of their entire lives.
Winds of Change focuses on Australia and as a title captures the progression that was made from the idea of conversion to encounter with Jews. In late 1962 Sr Shirley Sedawie returned to Australia after study in Jerusalem to found the Centre for Jewish/Christian dialogue. Her early activities led her to make frequent contacts with Jews and she was joined by other sisters. In 1967 she became a foundation member of the Catholic Ecumenical Affairs Commission. In 1970 a house was purchased in Kew for the Centre which was named Shalom, Centre for Jewish/Christian Dialogue. By 1986, the meeting room at Shalom was used monthly including by the Council of Christians and Jews (founded in 1985), the Victorian Council of Churches Working Group and the Ecumenical Affairs Commission Working Group.In 1980 Sion’s work expanded to Sydney, till early 2017. During that time the NSW Council of Christians and Jews was founded, the Archive of Australian Judaica at Sydney University and close contacts were maintained with the Jewish community.
It would be presumptuous to make extravagant claims as to the role the Australian Maccabi Sports Carnivals have played for Australian Jewry. It would be proper, however, to acknowledge the Carnivals, and their continuity, as a major factor in uniting our co-religionists over the past half century. As much a social event as a sporting contest, the Carnivals have, during this period, brought together annually over the Christmas-New Year holidays, large numbers of individuals who, by their interest in involving themselves in these annual events, have created a spirit that has pervaded the community. The growth of the Carnivals since their inception has been dramatic and, from a gathering of 24 competitors participating in one sport in 1924, the Carnival programme today extends to 19 sports and the number of competitors has increased to nearly 500 annually. The purpose behind the publication of this book is to record, as accurately as possible, the complete results of the sporting side of the Carnivals, to relate many of the incidents that have transpired in relation to the Carnivals and to re-create the social elements that have always been a part of the Carnival curriculum.