Australian Jewish Historical Society gets a facelift

December 1, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Former JCA president Peter Philippsohn has taken the reins of the Sydney-based AJHS [Inc] with plans to streamline NSW’s Jewish archives.Talking of his new committee Philippsohn said: “They all have a passion for community and its future. In the words of Confucius “Study the past if you would define the future ”  Sadly, we could see the records of the past of our community slipping away.

The change impacts only on the NSW Australian Jewish Historical Society with the Victorian Society of the same name remains unchanged.

Peter Philippsohn and Russell Stern

Peter Philippsohn and Russell Stern

In his address he added: “There are three local communal bodies charged with being keepers of the history of Australian Jewry. All three have strengths and weaknesses.

While SJM has covered Australian Jewish history, its focus has been teaching the Holocaust. SJM is now expanding its work to encompass human rights.

Deep down in Fisher Library at Uni of Sydney is the home of Archive of Australian Judaica, a poorly catalogued repository of the priceless records of many of our communal organisations including the ECAJ and NSW Board of Deps plus many sets of private papers and copies of publications from years gone by.

AJHS similarly has been overwhelmed with material. Being under-resourced and underfunded, the Society has struggled to handle the influx of papers from many sides.

A few communal organisations have good archival policies and have followed them. But, much communal history is stored in battered archive boxes in storerooms and attics. More has been destroyed by fire, by vermin or just dumped into waste bins.

The Communal Archive Project (CAP) will be conducted by AJHS. Funding is already in place to retain an archivist and conduct a survey of communal archives. This project will commence in 2017. The objective of CAP is to establish what records are held by the community, their relevance, volume, condition; and the space where they are stored. Once this assessment is complete, AJHS will lead a communal-wide project to set and implement archiving policies.

Let me be clear. The current activities of AJHS will continue. If anything, they will be expanded and enhanced. We will look to leverage relationships with other organisations to promote greater interest in Australian Jewish history.

It is one of our priorities to increase our membership and to provide opportunities for more volunteers to take on roles within the Society.”

The incoming AJHS committee is comprised of Peter Philippsohn President, Charles Aronson Vice-President, Philip Moses Secretary,  Ralph Hirst Treasurer, Paul Bondin, Gary Eckstein, Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton, Denise Lvoff, Anna Marks, Dr Suzanne Rutland,  Rev Charles Samra and Peter Wertheim.


2 Responses to “Australian Jewish Historical Society gets a facelift”
  1. Miri Orden says:

    A very impressive new Board wishing you all much success and lots of strength and health!
    Miri Orden
    JFC Ha’Moadon Ha’Israeli
    NCJWA NSW Division

  2. Maxine Finberg says:

    Mazaltov Peter, on becoming President of the AJHS.
    I thought it pertinent, as a former Brisbanite, to mention that the fate of the Margaret St. Shule is in the balance. Michael Solomon, a stalwart of the Brisbane community, whose son-in-law is Jason Stein, President of the QLD Board of Deputies, has written to me of the crisis the shule is facing, the inability to raise a minyan on a Shabbat and therefore the demise of the Rabbi if the situation doesn’t improve.

    I was shocked to hear this, considering that I attended the 130th Anniversary of the Margaret St. shule last July at a gala dinner where about 150 people attended.

    AJHS aims for the continuity of the Australian Jewish Community. Is there any way of offering any constructive suggestions or help ?
    Maxine Finberg.

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