Sir Asher Joel, politican and businessman (1912-1998)

Sir Asher Joel was an Australian legend, and an exceptional Australian. He was a politician, businessman, publisher and communal identity and the first Australian Jew to be made a Papal knight, was twice knighted by the Queen in 1970 and 1973 and was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1986. Born in Sydney in 1912, Asher Joel was educated at Enmore Public School and Cleverland Street High School. At the age of 14, he went to work as a copyboy at the Daily Telegraph. He became a reporter and worked on The Labor Daily, until, before he was 20, he became their parliamentary roundsman. His political reporting was so skilful that before long he was in public llife as publicity director for the coronation of George VI and the 1938 sesquincentenary. A year later he organised Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations. After being in the armed forces during the war, he ran the Lord Mayor's Patriotic and War Fund and the Australian Comforts Fund. In 1946 he established and chaired the Asher Joel Media Group.

Sir Asher Joel's commitment to public service involved being elected as an Independent Member of Parliament in 1957, and joining the Country Party, serving in parliament for twenty years. He retired from the New South Wales legislature in 1978. Large scale events he helped organise included the visit of Princess Alexandra of Kent in 1956, the visit of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and that of Pope Paul VI in 1970. He was also very much involvd in the Establishmnet of the Sydney Opera House, the 1973 Eucharistic congress in Melbourne, and wrote two books: Australian Protocol Procedures and Without Chains Free . The latter is an absorbing and moving story of a Filipino family who befriended him during his duties with the American military forces.

He has been described as a fantastic man with a vibrant personality. He would stand out and be the centre of attraction because of his eloquent turn of phrase. He did a great deal of good for the secular and Jewish communities and or Israel and was often asked for advice. He was well respected in parliamentary circles and had a tremndous ablity to find solutions to problems.

Sir Asher Joel served on the United Israel Appeal board of governors and was a founder and governor of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, laying the basis for close business ties between Israel and Australia. He was also on the executive of the Jewish National Fund and was active in promoting the Anzac and Menzies Forests in Israel. In 1990, the major benefactors Joseph Brender and Sam Moss named the Kehillat Masada Synagogue in St Ives the 'Sir Asher Joel Synagogue' in his honour.

In 1975 he set up the Sir Asher Joel foundation to assist Macquarie University ancient history and archaeology students to participate in archaeological digs sponsored by Tel Aviv University. In addition he supported Moriah College, Montefiore Home, Masada College, Yeshiva College as well as a number of other communal, cultural and business organisations.

Sir Asher Joel's love of writing caused him to publish his own newspaper, the North West Star, which circulates in Mount Isa, Queensland, and is distributed over an area of 400,000 square kilometres. He also became the chairman of Mount Isa Television for a time, and was active in many causes, doing much to bring extra happiness to others, from sponsoring and encouraging the Waratah Spring festival to his concern for the Smith Family and the helping of autistic children. He wrote: 'Communication is the nervous system of our society, community structure and person-to-person relationship. There is no greater need in the world today than the necessity to communicate ably and fluently with others. Surely this is what public relations is all about.'