From Australia’s Jewish Past: Fanny Sarah Breckler – a business and community leader

June 22, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Fanny was born in 1877 in Minsk Russia, the daughter of Joseph and Bella Masel.  She came to West Australia in 1889 having married Yoel Breckler, a Russian immigrant who, in 1897 set up a shoe repair business in Fremantle.

They had four children and Fanny was a philanthropist and known as a founder of the West Australian shoe retailer – Betts & Betts.

When Yoel passed away in 1912, Fanny and her sons, Cecil and Alec, took over the business.  They decided to expand into retailing, and opened a store, The Dainty Walk, on Hay Street in the Perth central business district. The business became a most successful one, expanding into a chain of stores that became one of the largest in Australia by the 1940s. The business had been known by the names Cecil Brothers, Betts and Betts and more recently Betts.

The brains behind it all was Fanny.

Her philanthropic work saw her become a long-standing president of the National Council of Jewish Women in West Australia, and was involved with Jewish and non-Jewish charities.

The Brecklers became one of the richest and influential families in Australia and, one of the few wealthy Jewish and influential families not from Melbourne or Sydney.

Fanny, died on 9 December 1946, her memorial service held at the Perth Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, was attended by close to 600 people.  She was buried in the Jewish section of Karrakatta Cemetery

Her estate was valued at over £44,600. While most was left to her family and friends, bequests were made to a number of West Australian charities, including the Jewish Philanthropic Society, the Children’s Hospital, and the Institute for the Blind, Adult Deaf and Dumb Society, Parkerville Children’s Home, Children’s Protection Society, and Home of Peace.

From Australia’s Jewish Past will spend several weeks focused on the Jewish women who shaped our community.

The Australian Jewish Historical Society is the keeper of archives from the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 right up to today. Whether you are searching for an academic resource, an event, a picture or an article, AJHS can help you find that piece of historical material. The AJHS welcomes your contributions to the archives. If you are a descendent of someone of interest with a story to tell, or you have memorabilia which might be of significance for the archives, please make contact via www.ajhs.com.au or its Facebook page.

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