A final resting place

November 20, 2020 by Henry Benjamin
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During excavations necessitated by the construction of Sydney’s Light Rail project, the skeletal remains of four bodies were unearthed in an area which had been a Jewish cemetery until the turn of the 20th century.

Devonshire St Cemetery

The partial remains of a single Jew and three of the Anglican faith were reinterred at Rookwood cemetery yesterday. The Anglican remains were discovered closeby.

During 1901 and 1902, the graves of the city’s Devonshire Street Cemetery were moved to various other areas to make way for the Central Railway Station.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick recited special prayers at the reinterment which was attended by David Knoll, historian Katherine O’Regan, Chair of the Rookwood General Trust, Gary Luke and the Sydney Chevra Kadisha’s Oded Simmon and Alex Zilich.


The cemetery portfolio for The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies is managed by David Knoll.

Alex Zilich, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Katherine O’ Regan, David Knoll and Oded Simmon

He said: “According to an Australian Jewish Historical Society from 1969, the first Jew in Australia was buried on 15 April 1788 and the Sydney Jewish Cemetery, Devonshire Street was consecrated in 1820”

He added: “The Devonshire Cemetery was relocated in large part to Raphael’s Ground in 1902 to make room for Sydney’s Central Railway Station.

Until two years ago we had thought that all Jewish remains had been carefully exhumed according to our religious tradition and reburied permanently at Raphael’s Ground, by then merged into Rookwood.”

He added: “However, in October and November 2018, two sets of human remains were unexpectedly discovered by Transport NSW as the Light Rail project we being implemented.”

Gary Luke, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Ales Zilich and Oded Simmon

The remains were found in two separate places with one in the Jewish area and the others in what had been the Anglican cemetery.

Knoll said: “The reinterment which we commemorate today acknowledges an imperfection in that relocation service.

For those whose names we do not know, we honour them by this act of reinterment.

We honour them by giving dignity to their remains.  For that opportunity, we thank Transport for NSW and Rookwood Cemetery.”

The names and sex of the remains remain unknown.

The Anglicans and Jewish contingents attended each other’s services.


2 Responses to “A final resting place”
  1. D. Helfgott says:

    The word Is “ interment “ not internment, which has a completely different meaning

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