Making the history of Acland St

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Prize winning historian Dr Judith Buckrich is appealing to the Jewish community to support the crowd funding campaign for her history of Melbourne’s Acland Street.

Acland St c. 1960s

“From the end of the Second World War through to the 1990s, Acland Street in St Kilda was the centre of Jewish social life in Melbourne. Many Jewish refugees landed there straight off the boat. Jews who had been living in Carlton before the war also descended on St Kilda, Elwood and Caulfield and frequented the restaurants, cafés, delicatessens cake shops in Acland Street,” she said.
“Jewish migrants gave the street a totally cosmopolitan flavour. Sundays mornings on Acland Street was standing room only as Jewish men gathered on the street in an informal Knesset, to thrash out the politics of the day, eat latkes at the Café Scheherazade, buy kugelhopf from the Monarch, and the latest Bashevis Singer novel from the Balberyszski Bookshop.

“St Kilda has actually been the axis of Jewish life in Melbourne for over 150 years. Buildings like Linden, once the home of Michaelis family and now a council-owned art gallery, stand as a testimony to the influence of the Jewish community in the nineteenth century. Later, it was home to families like Sir Zelman Cowan’s.”

As well as delving into the archives, Dr Buckrich has interviewed many people from the Jewish community including comedian Rachel Berger who grew up above her parent’s Acland Street deli and has extensively mined this experience for her comedy routines plus Port Phillip councillor and former Acland Street resident Dick Gross; restaurateur George Biron whose parents owned a greengrocers and a pastry shop; and Hillel Benedykt whose parents established the famous Benedykt Deli.

Acland Street was St Kilda’s first named street, taking its name from Thomas Dyke Acland, the owner of the schooner Lady of St Kilda which gave its name to the suburb.

Dr Buckrich is close to completing her manuscript on the history of Acland Street, St Kilda 1842-2017. Her work on this massive project began in late 2015 and will be published in November 2017. The resulting book will be a superb hard-cover illustrated history of the street covering its many phases since it was first named in 1842.

The book is being published by ATOM, a non-profit organisation whose editor is affiliated with the St Kilda Historical Society.

“We need to raise money for printing 3000 copies,” Dr Buckrich says. “With this in mind we have set up a pozible crowd funding campaign which is offering what is effectively pre-purchase of the book for $50, There are also other ‘rewards’ for other amounts.”

Dr Buckrich who has made her living from writing plays and histories, was born in Hungary in 1950 of a communist father and Jewish mother and migrated to Melbourne in 1958. She explores her experiences in her recently published memoir, The Political is Personal.

She has written histories of St Kilda Road, Collins Street, the Port of Melbourne, Montefiore Homes, the Royal Victorian Institute of the Blind, Prahran Tech, and Melbourne University Boat Club. Her history of Ripponlea Village won the 2016 Victorian Community History Awards Local History – Small Publication Award.

Pledges to the Acland Street history pozible campaign need to be made by 10 April 2017:


2 Responses to “Making the history of Acland St”
  1. Bernard Rechter says:

    Interesting project. My wife and I live in Acland st.1A and have known the street for many years. I1m happy to pledge$90.00 but prefer to use a debit card. Bernard.

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