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Curator's Corner


 

#1 Haggadot


In time for the observance of Pesach, the book commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, Haggadah, will be read by the Jews around the world. Some of the most beautifully illustrated Hebrew manuscripts are in the British Library, and the 1330s 'Golden Haggadah' is one of them. www.bl.uk/collection-items/golden-haggadah

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    Haggadah translated by Isaac Levi		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">The Great Synagogue museum collection has two important Haggadot. One of the early English editions, translated by Isaac Levi, is dated 1808. It was published in London for the German and Polish Jews, the Ashkenazi congregation, who prayed in the Duke's Place Synagogue (destroyed in 1941 during the Blitz).</span>
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		                                    Australian Haggadah 1944		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">The second Haggadah is a war-time Australian edition dated 1944. It was issued under Rabbi Danglow's auspices and reprinted from an older English edition with Rabbi Falk's own artwork attached to the title page illustration. Rabbi Falk served as a military chaplain and some of the wartime Sedarim would be conducted by himself.</span>
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		                                    Seder Plate, Vienna		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Closing our first museum excursion is a detail from the Prague Jewish Museum's beautifully decorated Seder plate, a dish of six compartments for six herbs and food symbolising the Biblical story of Passover. It was made in Vienna before 1900.</span>

 

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#2 Ornamenting the Torah Scrolls


Last year, and every year before, when the curtain of the Ark of The Great Synagogue was drawn back for Passover services, the blue and silver shine and spark was revealed. Not this year. These photos were taken last year and show the nine Torah scrolls enveloped in embroidered velvet mantles and decorated with splendid silver ornaments.

Click through the images to continue reading.

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		                                    The Great's Ark for Pesach 1		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 3. Two old traditions meet here. It was the practice of the European Ashkenazi communities to ornate Torah scrolls with a large silver crown and a breastplate, while the Sephardi congregations customarily topped the rollers with a pair of silver finials, also known as rimmonim.</span>
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		                                    The Great's Ark for Pesach 2		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 3. Over the centuries, as the Jews migrated and settled around the world, these traditions merged. By the nineteenth century, it was common for the Ashkenazi synagogues to use the ornaments interchangeably, as was frequent in our synagogue, in London or Prague.</span>
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		                                    Italian Rimmonim		                                </span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 3. Italian communities, known for their magnificent silver, developed a unique way of combining the rimmonim and the crown in one large piece, as shown on the
image.

Di Segni silver-gilt rimmonim and crown, Rome, c. 1700. Exhibition Menorah, Vatican Museum, Rome 2017</span>

 

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#3 The Building Over Time


In this series, instead of spending time inside the museum archives, we take a walk to the see the shul, because maybe you are already missing it… and there are some treasured old images showing the splendour of the building.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    1879		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. The first one, 1879, is a rare photograph taken by Charles Bayliss (1850-1897) who was commissioned to capture important buildings for a new album to celebrate the colonial progress. The majesty of the synagogue towers dominated the landscape for another three generations.</span>
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		                                    c. 1900		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. The buildings on the north side were cleared soon after 1900 to prepare for the construction of one of the Sydney's first skyscrapers, the former Manchester Unity. The Unity building was finished around 1925.</span>
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		                                    After 1925		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. This is a 'toned' postcard with an amazing display of old cars. Parking was allowed in front of the main entrance then. Trying to date this image, we can only guess by the adjacent Unity building being completed, so it has to be after 1925.</span>
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		                                    c. 1950		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 5. This in another undated photograph. Maybe someone can recognise the car model and date it more precisely? There is also an old parking-meter in front of the car.  No trees yet on Elizabeth Street. If you know the date, or can suggest another 'identifier', please leave a comment.</span>
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		                                    c. 1965		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 5. Closing the walk today is a photograph from the collection of the former Historic Houses Trust, called the Sydney Living Museum today. The trees appear here for the first time on Elizabeth Street; and also, there is a parking (?) sign that can be seen also on the previous image. The Great Synagogue is now 142 years old. Designed and built between 1874 and 1878 by architect Thomas Rowe. It is still standing there in all its dignity, waiting patiently, alone but not deserted.</span>

 

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#4 ANZAC Day & Abraham Rothfield


Some objects from the AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum collection document the history of the early Jewish congregation in Sydney, and some tell not so distant stories of brave individuals of the community. These medals pay homage to Abraham Rothfield (1890–1968), an educator, who is still warmly remembered at The Great Synagogue where he was much loved teacher of Bar Mitzvah boys. As a young man, Rothfield was decorated for his outstanding bravery in action on the battlefields of the

World War I.

 

Names of the NSW Jewish soldiers who fought and lost lives during the WWI and WWII are commemorated in The Great Synagogue Roll of Honour Book, usually on display for the ANZAC Day.

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		                                    Rothfield Medals		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 4: These medals pay homage to Abraham Rothfield (1890–1968), an educator, who is still warmly remembered at The Great Synagogue where he was a much loved Bar Mitzvah teacher.</span>
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		                                    Abraham Rothfield		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 4: As a young man, Rothfield was decorated for his outstanding bravery in action on the battlefields of World War I.</span>
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		                                    TGS Roll Book WWI		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 4: Names of the NSW Jewish soldiers who fought and lost lives during WWI and WWII are commemorated in The Great Synagogue Roll of Honour Book, usually on display for ANZAC Day.</span>
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		                                    TGS Roll Book WWII		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 4: The Great Synagogue Roll of Honour Book, Second World War.</span>

 

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#5 Illuminated Addresses


The AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum was opened in the early 1980s when then Great Synagogue leader and soon President Rodney Rosenblum and his wife Sylvia, a talented Museum Studies graduate, recognised the importance of items which till then had been stored in less than ideal conditions around The Great.

Through the work of the Rosenblums, curators and volunteers, a professional approach has seen the objects in the collection properly stored and recorded and grants for aspects of the museum’s work from the State and Federal Governments.

Here are some of the Illuminated Addresses from the Collection, presented to leading community members on special occasions.

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		                                    1 of 5. To Coleman Cantor Esq., November 1883		                                </span>
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		                                    2 of 5. To Louis Phillips Esq. J.P., March 1896		                                </span>
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		                                    3 of 5. To George J Cohen Esq., February 1903		                                </span>
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		                                    4 of 5. To The Reverend P. Philippstein, January 1906		                                </span>
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		                                    5 of 5. To Louis Phillips Esq. J.P., May 1909		                                </span>

 

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#6 The Great's Women


The Great Synagogue in Sydney opened 142 years ago and women have always contributed to its success and development. Not a single week on religious or social and community calendar would be possible without the Great Women's talents and dedication. Their attire and fashion may have changed over the years but their love and enthusiasm remain ageless.

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		                                    Council of Jewish Women		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. The Council of Jewish Women was founded in Sydney in 1923.  This photo, taken in front of The Great Synagogue on Elizabeth Street in Sydney, is from the Council's first National Conference which was held in 1929. Photo courtesy of the State Library of NSW.</span>
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		                                    Bat Mitzvah Classes		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. A 1960s Bat Mitzvah class of The Great Synagogue in Sydney with Rabbi Israel Porush (1907–1991).</span>
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		                                    Woman President		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. Ros Fischl OAM succeeded Herman Eisenberg AM and became The Great's first female President, and the first female President of an Orthodox Synagogue in Australia. Pictured here with Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO.</span>
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		                                    Carrying the Torah		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 5. Women have carried the Sefer Torah at The Great for many years, here carried by Gloria Goldstein.</span>
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		                                    Bnot Mitzvah Today		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 5. Since Rabbi Apple’s time, Bat Mitzvah girls have addressed the congregation from the pulpit on Shabbat morning. (Picture not taken on Shabbat)</span>

 

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#7 Drawn to The Great Synagogue


Artists have always been drawn to the sandstone beauty of The Great Synagogue and some of these treasured artworks are over 100 years old. They depict the view that has been long gone and one we can only imagine: in clear line of sight, the pair of domed synagogue's towers dominating Elizabeth Street and visible from afar across the Hyde Park.

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		                                    1930s		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. Great Synagogue by Harold Byrne (1899–1966), aquatint, c.1935</span>
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		                                    1878		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. The New Synagogue, Sydney, The Australiasian Sketcher, engraving, 13 April, 1878</span>
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		                                    1880s		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. Detail of The Great Synagogue, Hyde Park by Julian R. Ashton (1851–1942), engraving, c. 1886</span>
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		                                    c. 1930		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">The Great Synagogue by Cedric Emanuel (1906–1995), pencil drawing, c. 1930</span>
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		                                    1912		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">Detail of The Great Synagogue, Illuminated Testimonial, unknown artist, 1912.</span>

 

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#8 Offertory Books


Tzedakah - Jewish charity - is one of the most important religious and social obligations. Whether supporting the poor and elderly, orphans' education, or a Jewish hospital and refuge, by the 1870s several Jewish charitable institutions were established in Sydney and Melbourne. In the past as today, donations are customarily pledged when being called up to the Torah on Shabbat and Jewish festivals. But have you ever wondered how the offerings were recorded on Shabbats in the past? The inventiveness knew no boundaries: the Jews in England came up with an Offertory Book, also known as Shabbat or Gabbai Book. A hefty parchment-bound register with the congregants' names listed on the left and columns with various amounts, and a list of charities on the right or along the top, was common in the colony as well. Each page was provided with a lace that could be inserted in the hole indicating the purpose and the specified amount. The marked names and amounts and other details were later transferred to an account book during the week.

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		                                    Shabbat Book, c. 1825		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. From the collection of the Jewish Museum in London.</span>
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		                                    Sydney Synagogue Offerings, c. 1850s-60s		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. This rare register would have been used in the first synagogue in the Australian colony, the York Street Synagogue. A simple system of holes and strings recorded donations on Shabbat when writing is forbidden. Names of some well-known Sydney Jews, Moses Joseph (next image) and Simon Hoffnung, can be seen. Courtesy of the State Library of NSW: Mitchell Library Microfilms.</span>
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		                                    Sydney Synagogue Offerings, c. 1850s-60s		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. Another page from the York Street Synagogue register showing the name of Joseph Moses.</span>
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		                                    Gabbai Book, London, prior to 1850		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 5. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain produced a video of a Gabbai Book of a London synagogue, in use prior 1850. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YYrH07FLEc</span>
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		                                    Alms Box, Prague 1834		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 5. Maintenance and running of the synagogue required regular donations from the congregation. This alms box was used to collect money for a Prague synagogue winter heating, 1834. www.jewishmuseum.cz</span>

 

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#9 Etrog Boxes


Celebrated by Jews around the world and over the centuries, the festival of Sukkot inspired the creation of Etrog containers of many sizes and shapes. Silver remains the popular material, and it is rather common to find a lovely collection of Etrog boxes in any Jewish museum.

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		                                    1800s image of the citron, Wellcome Collection, London		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 7. A fragrant citrus fruit, the Etrog grows in a warm climate and transporting it around the world naturally required special care. Once at home, the fragile fruit had to be stored and protected: an Etrog case was born.</span>
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		                                    c. 1870 silver gilded, collection of The Great Synagogue, Sydney		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 7. An etrog box in size (15 – 20 cm) and shape of the citrus fruit is one of the most common designs of the nineteenth century, ranging from elegant clear forms to more elaborate renditions.</span>
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		                                    Poland around 1850, Jewish Museum Prague		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 7. This lifelike silver Etrog box on a stand was probably made in Poland around 1850 and is from the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague.</span>
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		                                    Collection of The Great Synagogue		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 7. From The Great Synagogue is also this more recent example of a silver Etrog box, decorated with geometrical engraving and chased image of the citrus.</span>
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		                                    Germany, c. 1890, The Jewish Museum, New York		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 7. This truthful representation of an Etrog in gilded silver highlights the significance of the holy fruit.</span>
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		                                    Repurposed Sugar Box c. 1840, Jewish Museum Prague		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">6 of 7. Sometimes, a dedicated Etrog container was not at hand, and other domestic silver dishes were used instead. This Etrog case from the Jewish Museum in Prague shows reusing a lidded and lockable sugar box for the purpose of this Sukkot festival tradition.</span>
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		                                    Repurposed silver dish c. 1670, Jewish Museum Prague		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">7 of 7. A two-handle oval silver dish, commonly known in English as a sweetmeat dish, was made in the 1670s in Augsburg and brought later to the Jewish community near Prague. It is a rare and early example of repurposing secular silver into an object of ritual Judaica. Collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague.</span>

 

#10 Shabbat Candelighting Postcards


A Shabbat Shalom greeting this week comes from three collections of Judaica showing early Jewish postcards. Lighting Shabbat candles is traditionally performed by the woman of the house as she ushers in the Shabbat on Friday evening. Usually, two candles are lit, but blessing four candles became common in larger households in Europe more than a century ago.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    Lighting Shabbat candle, Stanislaw Bender (1882-1975)		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 3. This 1920s postcard shows a painting Lighting Shabbat candle הדלקת נר שׁבּת by a Polish Jewish artist Stanislaw Bender (1882-1975), known for his portraits of Jewish subjects. The Great Synagogue, Sydney, AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum Collection.</span>
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		                                    Blessing of Shabbat Lights, Geskel Saloman (1821-1902)		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 3. Postcard with the painting Blessing of Shabbat Lights, c. 1900 by Geskel Saloman (1821-1902), a Jewish portraitist of Danish-Swedish origins. The National Library of Israel.</span>
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		                                    Lighting of the Sabbath candles, c. 1905		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 3. Postcard with a reproduction of artwork showing the lighting of the Sabbath candles, c. 1905. The College of Charleston Libraries, William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection.</span>

 

#11 Archibald Connections in Our Museum Collection


To mark the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, we share some of the paintings from our AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum collection. Established in 1921, the 'Archibald' is awarded annually to the best portrait. In Australia, perhaps nothing speaks higher of artistic quality than being a finalist or a winner of this coveted art prize. It may come as a surprise that over the years, several artists commissioned by The Great Synagogue reached this status.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    Portrait of Rabbi Francis Lyon Cohen by Joseph Wolinski, 1921		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 4. This painting was amongst the selected finalists in the inaugural year of the Archibald Prize.</span>
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		                                    Portrait of Rabbi Abraham David Wolinski by Joseph Wolinski, 1931		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 4. An Australian artist and frequent 'Archibald' finalist painted his father, Rabbi Wolinski who served at The Great Synagogue from 1883.</span>
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		                                    Portrait of Rabbi Leib Aisack Falk by Valerie Lazarus, c. 1940		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 4. Lazarus, one of the early Jewish women artists, painted prominent Jewish personalities and was an 'Archibald' regular from the 1930s.</span>
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		                                    Portrait of Rabbi Israel Porush by William Pidgeon, 1961		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 4. The well-known artist William Pidgeon won the Archibald Prize three times. In 1961, this captivating portrait celebrated Rabbi Porush's twenty-one years of service and was declared the winner.</span>

 

#12 Unique Silver Chanukiahs


Leib Aisack Falk (1889-1957) was born in Latvia and after a few years in Britain he was appointed to The Great Synagogue as an Assistant Minister in 1922, becoming a rabbi in 1936. He was Second Minister for many years and Acting Chief Minister for two periods. Despite exclusion from guilds and other restrictions, Eastern European Jews worked in many trades, and it was probably during his earlier yeshiva studies in Lithuania where the young Falk met Jewish craftsmen and discovered his talents. Later in Sydney, Rabbi Falk's craftsmanship enriched the Synagogue's collection of ritual objects, admired to the present day.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    The Falk Menorah in the Shule		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. Fondly known to The Great Synagogue congregation as the 'Falk Menorah', this large silver chanukiah was again at the centre of reverence during the eight-day Chanukah festival. With the last candle lit and the shamash set aside, we can reflect upon the uniqueness of this silverware.</span>
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		                                    The Falk Menorah		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. The eight-branched silver candelabrum, 80 cm high, was made by Rabbi L. A. Falk around 1950 and donated to the Synagogue by a Sydney family. It is probably the only known silver chanukiah crafted by a serving rabbi. During each night of Chanukah, while remembering the Temple rededication, candles are lit in a special order with the 'servant' light or shamash.</span>
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		                                    The Falk Menorah - Base Detail		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. Rabbi Falk the silversmith crafted symbols of twelve tribes of Israel to the foot base while the Star of David highlights this exceptional artefact.</span>
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		                                    Chanukiah, Moravian Jewish Community c.1870s		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 5. Over the centuries, the chanukiah lamp has taken many forms while always displaying eight receptacles for oil or candles and one additional attached for lighting. This stunning silverwork comes from the 1870s Vienna made for the small Moravian Jewish community in Prostejov. Collection Jewish Museum Prague. www.jewishmuseum.cz/</span>
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		                                    Rare Chanukiah, Amsterdam 18th Century for Portuguese Synagogue		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 5. Richly decorated with scrolls and rocailles, its centre presents a cartouche with an interlaced monogram or cipher, apparently not decoded to the present days. Collection Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam. www.jck.nl/en/location/jewish-historical-museum</span>

 

#13 146 Years Ago


In the midst of the global pandemic, two of The Great's important anniversaries have passed without much notice. Yet, they both mark significant moments in the Synagogue's history and are documented by rare artworks. First, 146 years ago, on 26 January 1875, the Foundation stone of The Great Synagogue was laid. The occasion inspired a group of Sydney Jewish women: they formed a lively fundraising team to hold a 'Ladies Bazaar'. By December, a second milestone was reached when almost £5000 was raised for the Synagogue building fund.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                                    Laying of the Foundation Stone, 26 January 1875.		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 4. Commemorative Illumination, 1875, tempera and gold on paper. Laying of the Foundation Stone, 26 January 1875. The Great Synagogue, Sydney, AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum Collection. The occasion marked a new chapter in the history of Australian Jewry.</span>
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		                                    Hebrew Ladies Fancy Fair, 14 December 1875.		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 4. Commemorative Illumination, 1875, tempera and gold on paper. The event raised £4806.17, over AUD$600,000 today, significantly contributing to the Synagogue building fund. Sydney Jewish Museum Collection.</span>
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		                                    Illustration, The Hebrew Ladies' Bazaar		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 4. The success of the first major Jewish fundraising event, The Hebrew Ladies' Bazaar, which run over six days in a pavilion near today Martin Place, was highlighted in words and images in the Illustrated Sydney News. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/63335894</span>
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		                                    Novelty Bookmarks, Ladies' Bazaar		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 4. It was reported that … 'the Ladies set to work, without delay, to obtain donations of money, goods, and needle and fancy work, and applied for assistance from their various friends in this and the neighbouring Colonies, as well as from Europe and America.' Novelty machine-embroidery bookmarks were commissioned in London for the occasion, the first of their kind in the Australian colony.</span>

 

#14 Happy Birthday Great


4 March 1878 – 4 March 2021

4 March 1878 was Monday in Sydney. The weather was fine and The Sydney Morning Herald - for the price of twopence – was just out. On this day, the Sydney omnibus fares were to be increased and the Original Royal Marionettes performance was to highlight the evening at The School of Arts. The Sydney weekend activities seemed to be too much for twenty-two persons appearing before the Central Police Court and charged for drunkenness, use of obscene language and property damage. The price of wool and gold was steady, transatlantic shipping was on its way … yet, none of these news attracted the usual interest among the Jewish community.

It was the Religious Announcements on the Herald's first page that the Sydney Jews wanted to see. David Cohen, Honorary Secretary was reminding the congregation that the long anticipated consecration of The Great Synagogue on Elizabeth Street will take place on this day, Monday 4th March at 3 pm. The Secretary was also prompting the officials to be in attendance at the Synagogue chambers at 'half-past 1 o'clock precisely' to ensure the success of the ceremonial pomp. And success it was … The Sydney press was captivated with the Synagogue's imposing architecture by Thomas Rowe and the dignified consecration ceremony presented by the Jewish clergy.

Click through the images to read more.

Curator's Corner

  • 		                                		                                <span class="slider_title">
		                                    Herald Announcement		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 4. The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 4 March 1878, p. 1.</span>
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		                                    Consecration Image		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 4. Consecration of The Great Synagogue Sydney, engraving, Illustrated Sydney News, 4 March 1878.</span>
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		                                    TGS c.1880		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 4.The Great Synagogue, architect Thomas Rowe, photo c. 1880. Magnificent and eclectic, the two-tower sandstone architecture with Romanesque and Gothic arches is still one of the grandest Victorian elevations in Sydney. Powerhouse Museum Tyrrell Photographic Collection.</span>
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		                                    Interior Today		                                </span>
		                                		                                
		                                		                            	                            	
		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 4. Interior of The Great Synagogue Sydney today, 143 years later. Happy Birthday!</span>

 

#15 Matzah-Making Tradition


Whether you spell it matzah, matzoh, matzha or matza, it all means one tradition: commemoration of the Exodus and the unleavened bread eaten by the Israelites fleeing slavery in Egypt. The eight-day Festival of Passover or Pesach includes rituals celebrated at home around the dinner table centred on the symbolic matzah. The 1890s matzah-making machine in Waterloo Solomon's factory in Sydney was turned off almost a decade ago. Today, tonnes of boxes of matzah are imported from Israel every year, but have you ever wondered how they were made before the first manufacturing?

When hand-made, the matzah dough – flour mixed with water - required to be quickly flattened by wooden rolling pin, and perforated to prevent the fermentation before baking. While throughout the old Jewish world, the punctures were made either by using a round metal plate or a roller with sharp teeth, Jews in the heart of Europe came up with other matzah contraptions.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 7. A round metal matzah dough 'hole-maker' from Moravia, c.1900. Jewish Museum Prague</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 7. A rare wooden matzah-roller, c. 1860. Jewish Museum of Switzerland. Wikimedia commons.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 7. An inventive contraption for matzah dough perforation, early 1900. Jewish Museum Prague.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 7. Another unique metal matzah-roller, c. 1920. Jewish Museum of Switzerland. Wikimedia commons.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 7. The significance of the Exodus and matzah inspired creation of Pesach artefacts, like this early 1900 matzah cover from The Great Synagogue Sydney.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">6 of 7. A delicately embroidered matzah cover from Bohemia, late 1800. Jewish Museum Prague.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">7 of 7. Colourful flowers decorate this matzah cover from Czernowitz (today in Ukraine), c. 1900. Holocaust Museum Montreal.</span>

Curator's Corner

#16 The Mystery of Church Furnishings


Tucked between the busy Goulburn Street and tall city buildings stands the Sydney's oldest Lutheran Church. Built in 1883, it may be guarding a century-old mystery linked to the early Jewish community. Carved cedar furniture there looks familiar to those who visit The Great Synagogue, but it is the six-point star that catches the eye. The Star of David has not always been associated exclusively with Judaism, but its presence raises curiosity.

Where did the church furniture originate? It is possible that answers lie in some unexpected twist, involving also The Great Synagogue – today the oldest continuous place of Jewish worship in Sydney.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 7. Magen David detail in Martin Luther Church.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 7. The church pulpit could have its origin in the York Street Synagogue, 1844-1878.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 7. The Church gallery features Star of David motifs.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 7. Some of The Great Synagogue fittings may have been reused from the earlier synagogue.

Photo: Jono David/HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library www.JewishPhotoLibrary.com</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 7. Furniture historians agree on local carpenters' skills shown at both worship places.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">6 of 7. Carved railings decorate the gallery stairs in the Synagogue, and in the Church.

Photo: Jono David/HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">7 of 7. Martin Luther Church's old records may reveal the mystery of its cedar furniture.</span>

 

#17 ANZAC Day 2021


Today, thousands of young and old across the nation commemorate the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died on the world's battlefields. A century ago, the portico of The Great Synagogue in Sydney was transformed into a memorial to Australian Jews who served and died in combat during the World War I. They fought alongside the 'diggers' and many sacrificed their lives. While the name of General John Monash may be the best known in Australia, three plaques affixed at the eastern side of the Synagogue commemorate those whose courage, contribution and suffering must not be forgotten. This year again, The Great Synagogue's community remembers the sacrifices made by Australian Jewish soldiers, past and present. Lest we forget.

First three images credit: Jono David/HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library www.JewishPhotoLibrary.com

Click through the images to read more.

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		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 5. The Great Synagogue Sydney's entrance portico on Elizabeth Street.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 5. A First World War memorial plaque in The Great Synagogue portico, designed by architect Gordon Samuel Keesing, honouring the memory of Jewish Australian soldiers.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 5. A wooden First World War Roll of Honour at The Great Synagogue. The second part of the Roll can be viewed before entering the Ladies' gallery portico entrance.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 5. A rare brass Chaplain's badge from the collection of The Great Synagogue. Usually, Jewish chaplain insignia bear the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) form.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 5. Rabbi Leib Aisack Falk (1889-1957) was one of The Great Synagogue's Jewish chaplains. Marking the forthcoming centenary of his appointment to the Synagogue in 1923, we remember Falk's chaplain services with the Jewish Legion in Egypt and Palestine. Collection of the Sydney Jewish Museum.</span>

 

#18 York Street Virtual


What happens when a museum curator meets a 3D specialist in The Great Synagogue? They virtually walk inside the long-lost synagogue built in Sydney in 1844. Interest in Victorian architecture recently brought together Jana Vytrhlik and Zac Levi to create an unrivalled visual reconstructions.

Click through the images to read more.

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		                            <span class="slider_description">1 of 6. Virtual reconstruction of the view from the back of the women's gallery.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">2 of 6. A rare 1870s photograph of Australia's oldest synagogue, the 'York Street Synagogue' in Sydney which stood near the Town Hall until 1878. No interior photo is known.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">3 of 6. After finding old newspapers' clippings and old architectural plans, a 3D virtual interior of the synagogue started to emerge.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">4 of 6. Virtual reconstruction of central bimah facing the Ark – now in The Great Synagogue's Rosenblum Jewish Museum.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">5 of 6. Virtual reconstruction of the stairs leading to the ladies' gallery.</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">6 of 6. Ornamental details inside the York Street Synagogue. Virtual reconstruction 2021.</span>

 

Mon, 21 June 2021 11 Tammuz 5781