New Exhibition at the Great

June 16, 2011 by Susan Bures
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A specially commissioned art glass Seder plate and a ruby Bohemian glass Kiddush cup, a silver, brass and gilt pair of rimmonim  and a silver circumcision knife, the earliest Australian Jewish marriage records and the portraits of the first bride and groom from that list –  Sydney’s The Great Synagogue’s heritage collection is vibrant and diverse.

Curator Brittany Freedlander

Special and in some cases unique items from that collection are now on show at the synagogue, courtesy of the AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum…Treasures of The Great Synagogue.

“The richness of The Great Synagogue’s collection is incredibly striking,” curator Brittany Freelander said.

“It takes in works in precious metals, textiles, works on paper and parchment, works in glass and paintings in oils.

“Some of the items were created for the collection, others reflect the high status of The Great Synagogue in its colonial years, still others are symbols of historic occasions in the lives of The Great’s congregation and leadership,” she said.

Spanning three centuries, the objects are all of significance and some are examples of particular beauty.

Many of them are also “Great Synagogue specific”, the Great’s president Michael Gold said.

“It is remarkably satisfying to be able to show our visitors items of great importance in the Jewish life of Sydney,” Mr Gold said.

These include the magnificent cedar Ark from the York Street Synagogue, predecessor of The Great, the Chumash used in the first formal Jewish service in Sydney, a Pesach Haggadah illustrated by artist Rabbi Leib Aisack Falk, published for World War II Australian Jewish sailors, soldiers and airmen and a plan of the Jewish Cemetery in Devonshire Street, Sydney with the location of graves for bushranger Edward Davis (“Teddy the Jew Boy”) and for Barnett Levey, founder of the first theatre in Sydney.

“Even the image of the Sturt Desert Pea we have used on our invitations and other published work is significant; a number of illuminated addresses and Rosh Hashanah cards from the end of the 19th century show Australian wildflowers ahead of a more general trend,” Mr Gold said.

The AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum was opened in the early 1980s when then Great Synagogue leader and soon President Rodney Rosenblum and his wife Sylvia, a talented Museum Studies graduate, recognised the importance of items which till then had been stored in less than ideal conditions around The Great.

Through the work of the Rosenblums, curators Marcelle Jacobs, Monica Christopher, Lori Burck and Brittany Freelander and volunteers including Win Rubens and Avril Symon, a professional approach has seen the objects in the collection properly stored and recorded and grants for aspects of the museum’s work from the State and Federal Governments.

The museum is open during tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Shabbat morning.


For further information: Brittany Freelander



(in ConS/Heritage/New Treasures etc/PR for opening etc)



One Response to “New Exhibition at the Great”
  1. The artist creates a portrait of him- or herself, it’s called a self-portrait.The subject for his/her portraits in many ways is at the mercy of the photographer and ultimately it is his image. . But I think a real portrait is a true balance between the subject and the photographer.

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