Broken Hill synagogue defaced

December 1, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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The coordinator of the historical synagogue in the outback city of Broken Hill arrived at work yesterday to prepare for a visit by tourists and found the front of the building had been defaced with Nazi and Islamic symbols.

Margaret Price at the door of the synagogue Photo: Darrin Manuel/Barrier Daily Truth

Margaret Price at the door of the synagogue Photo: Darrin Manuel/Barrier Daily Truth

Margaret Price, the co-ordinator of the Synagogue of the Outback Museum told J-Wire: “I arrived at work and found the symbols and slogans across the front of the building which is under the ownership of the Broken Hill Historical Society. I can only ever remember one other such attack about ten years ago when the building was daubed with swastikas on Hitler’s birthday and a bookstore was defaced in 2010 with nazi symbols at this time of year as it featured items being shown in a Jewish promotion for Chanukah. Although there is no Jewish presence in the city these days, I grew up with Jews and my family worked with them. They were Broken Hillers and a strong part of our community. We are dismayed by this scurrilous attack on the building on the very day of its 105th anniversary.”

She added: “People are asking why this is happening now and one man offered me $50 to help clean it up.”

The Broken Hill Synagogue was established in 1910 to meet the spiritual needs of a small bu vibrant Jewish community serving the booming mining town. When the mining boom slowed down to a trickle of its former self, most of the Jewish community left. Broken Hill is situated in far west New South Wales and lies 400kms from the Jewish community of Adelaide, 1500kms from the Jewish community of Sydney and 850kms from Melbourne. It is the first city in Australia to be heritage listed. “The presence of the synagogue played a part in the listing” said Margaret Price.

Detective-Inspector Michael Stoltenberg of Broken Hill police told J-Wire: “The police are canvassing the area and making enquiries as to how did this to our synagogue. These sorts of incidents are not common in our area and we want it to stay that way.”

CEO of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies Vic Alhadeff told J-Wire: “I visited the Broken Hill Synagogue two years ago while on the Board’s annual bridge-building tour of Regional NSW. The bigotry inherent in any such attack is exacerbated by the idiocy of the perpetrators. The Broken Hill Synagogue, which is 105 years old, is cared for by the same dedicated group of volunteers who take care of a mosque and two museums in the city, so attacking it impacts those other institutions too as funds will now have to be raised to remove the graffiti.

All acts of racism are strongly condemned, and how much more so in a city which was built on its multicultural ethos, with Jews having a long and proud history in Broken Hill until recently.”

The synagogue, which houses prayer books, ark curtains, tallit and an Israeli flag is visited by over 800 tourists annually. It last functioned as a synagogue in 1962. The torahs did not remain and were sent to a congregation in Melbourne.

Anyone with any information should contact Broken Hill police on (08) 8087 0299.



3 Responses to “Broken Hill synagogue defaced”
  1. Margaret Price says:

    On behalf of the Broken Hill Historical Society but in particular myself and the volunteers of the Synagogue of the Outback Museum, I wish to thank Harry Benjamin of jwire, Vic Alhadeff any many the other supporters of this old building and not forgetting of course Darren from The Barrier Daily Truth the only newspaper in town. With heartfelt thanks to you all, Margaret

  2. Gary Luke says:

    Broken Hill has the rare distinction of being the only regional town or city in NSW with a Synagogue and a Mosque both listed as significant heritage sites on the State Heritage register.

  3. Kate Mannix says:

    As a student of Broken Hill Jewry I am quite sure there is nothing but goodwill towards Jews amongst those born in Broken Hill.

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