Rural Synagogues in New South Wales
In the nineteenth century. Jews came to Australia in response to the Gold Rush in the 1850s, where they acted as shopkeepers and traders around several goldfields, including Broken Hill(SA), Ballarat (Vic), Fremantle and Kalgoorli in Western Australia and Koolgardie. They mostly did not fossick for gold, themselves. Newcastle Synagogue is the only coastal, rural synagogue in New South Wales, today.
Newcastle Hebrew Congregation was formed in 1906, with the first synagogue being consecrated in September 1927. Reverend Isack Morris was the Minister for the next 25 years. Recently a collection of sermons the latter cut out from the Jewish Chronicle was donated to the Archive.
A number of synagogues were established in rural, coastal areas, but when the goldfields declined, many of the former thriving centres became ghost towns, and the Jewish populations moved out to the cities.
This small building in Goulburn was believed to be a synagogue, built by the Emanuel family. It stands now on the Landsdowne Estate, built on the site of the former brewery, by the Emmanuel family in the 1840s. However, recently, Morris Forbes has written on this building in the Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, disproving the idea that it was a synagogue, as was first thought in the 1990s.
This house was built in 1820s by Hovell and Hume became the residence of the Emanuel family in the 1840s.In the wake of the Gold Rush, Jews also settled in other areas of New South Wales such as Bombala.
Maitland Synagogue(above) has been restored, but is used now for offices. After the renovations, a commemorative plaque was affixed to the building, on July 7th 1987, by the Australian Jewish Historical Society with Rabbi Raymond Apple, then the President, carrying out the dedication.
The Broken Hill Synagogue foundation stone was laid in 1910 and the synagogue was consecrated in 1911. It was one of four built outside of the Sydney Metropolitan Area, the others being Maitland, Newcastle and Wollongong. It closed in 1962, but was held in trust until 1990, when the Historical Society purchased it, after having placed a conservation order on it in 1989. It has recently had some restoration work done on it, and is now the home of the Historical Society. In 2010 the Australian Jewish Historical Society (NSW) will visit the site and there will be commemorative celebrations.
Today there are Jews in the Southern Highlands, and near Gosford, north of Sydney, but the rural communities have disappeared from most of the former gold towns.
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