A visit to Jewish Goulburn

October 14, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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NSW Shadow Arts Minister Walt Secord recently visited Goulburn – as part of his ongoing exploration of historic Jewish sites in rural and regional NSW.

Walt Secord in Goulburn

Mr Secord, who is also the deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel paid a visit to a Jewish cemetery on Long Street in East Goulburn and the site of a supposed synagogue on the historic Lansdowne Estate – outside the town.

Mr Secord said he was excited to discover that there was a possible synagogue in Goulburn –especially when the NSW Heritage Register listed it as part of the Lansdowne Estate (1830).

Earlier this year, Mr Secord also visited the Broken Hill Synagogue in the State’s far west.

Mr Secord personally inspected the ruins of the building which some tourist operators claim to be site of Goulburn’s synagogue.

Upon his return to Sydney Mr Secord sought an Australian Jewish Historical Society essay published in June 2005 – which canvassed whether it was actually a synagogue.

The report’s author Morris Forbes consulted the then Great Synagogue chief minister Rabbi Raymond Apple who said it was unlikely to have been a synagogue; however, he said it was likely to have been used for prayers.

“After visiting the site and looking at it, I tend to agree that it was likely a site for prayers and low-level services for the sons of a colonial Jewish family – the Emmanuel family – in the 1840s-50s,” Mr Secord said.

“Whatever, its actual use, it was exciting to locate the building. It was some distance away from the main road and was it was located in the middle of a vineyard. A woman at the site warned about tiger snakes.”

During the 19th century, there were a significant number of Jews in NSW who lived in country areas, with communities in Goulburn, Maitland, Grafton and Broken Hill.

Members of the Goulburn Jewish community were gold buyers, jewellery makers, traders and operators of boiling down works, however, by the 1880s, a decade of boom, the majority had left Goulburn.

In the 1840s Goulburn had a rich and active Jewish community associated with gold mining in the region. The 1851 census reported that there were 75 Jews in Goulburn.

Between 1861 and 1881, three Jewish members represented Goulburn in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

The Jewish cemetery was used from 1844 to 1943 and it was re-consecrated in 1987.  The Goulburn Jewish cemetery is maintained by the Goulburn Mulwaree Council. It has around 25 known graves

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