Broken Hill Synagogue overlooked in restoration funding

May 14, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord has expressed his disappointment the state government had failed to fund repairs to the historic Broken Hill Synagogue which recently suffered $140,000 in hailstorm damage.

Walt Secord at the synagogue

Walt Secord who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and Shadow Minister for the Arts spoke the matter last week in the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council.

Recently, the State Government through its Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton, who is also the Member for Vaucluse funded 220 projects including the restoration of the Broken Hill mosque – which Mr Secord welcomed.

However, the synagogue was overlooked in the funding round, but Mr Secord said the Berejiklian Government could rectify the oversight in the forthcoming State Budget.

Mr Secord called on the Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Arts Minister Don Harwin and Mrs Upton to fund the synagogue repairs in the State budget.

In early April, Mr Secord visited Broken Hill for a series of meeting with local government, water, Aboriginal, health and arts, and cultural officials in my capacities as shadow Minister for the Arts and shadow Minister for Health.

Mr Secord was given a guided tour by Mrs Margaret Price, one of the three editors of the book – Jews of the Outback the other editors being Dr Suzanne Rutland and Leon Mann.

The Broken Hill Historical Society which oversees the historic Broken Hill Synagogue says the 107 year-old building needs about $140,000 in repairs due to a recent hailstorm – especially the roof.  If the repairs are not undertaken, it would undermine all of the previous restoration work at the synagogue. It was purchased by the historical society in 1990 and was subsequently, restored. It is located on Wolfram Street in Broken Hill.

From the 1880s to the 1960s a vibrant and successful Jewish community existed in Broken Hill. The synagogue was once the heart of the Jewish community in Broken Hill. The community came to the region as merchants at the time of the birth of the silver mining industry. Many of them had their origins in the Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. They came to Australia to escape pogroms in eastern Europe and eventually settled in Broken Hill. Today, their descendants are scattered around the world. During the 1920s, the synagogue membership grew to around 250 worshippers with their own rabbi.

The synagogue closed in 1962 and the scrolls were transferred to Melbourne, but the ark, bimah and pews remain in place. Even though the Jewish community has since left and the last Jewish community member passed away in 2005, this synagogue remains a vital part of the history of our settlement in far western New South Wales.

But Gabrielle Upton told J-Wire: “I understand that they did not apply for the recent Major Works or Heritage Reports streams of the 2017-19 NSW Heritage Grant Funding Round. They can apply for an Emergency Works grant of up to $10,000 where it’s not covered by owner’s insurance. The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies  has been made aware of this opportunity. “



One Response to “Broken Hill Synagogue overlooked in restoration funding”
  1. Gary Luke says:

    In regional NSW we have two Synagogues and one cemetery listed as significant State Heritage sites, and a second cemetery is an LGA listed heritage site. None of them receive funding for conservation or essential maintenance via Jewish organisations.

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