NSW Labor welcomes listing of Goulburn Jewish cemetery on State’s Heritage Register

July 4, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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NSW Labor has welcomed the listing of the Goulburn Jewish cemetery on the State’s Heritage Register recommended by the Heritage Council of NSW.

Walt Secord in Goulburn

It is one of two exclusively Jewish cemeteries in NSW regional with the other being Maitland Jewish Cemetery.

The cemetery contains the grave of Rebecca Moses, originally known as Mary Connolly – the first woman to convert to Judaism in Australia in 1830.

The Heritage Council of NSW is an independent statutory body that advises the State Government and on heritage matters in NSW and makes decisions about the care and protection of heritage places and items that have been identified as being of State significance.

The listing – as “Goulburn Jewish Cemetery and Cultural Landscape” – officially occurred on June 25 under Section 37(1)(b) of the Heritage Act 1977 (NSW).

NSW Labor also called on NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin, who is responsible for heritage to provide assistance to permanently protect the site with its remaining headstones and to support more further research at the site to locate other graves.

The call was issued by NSW Shadow Minister for the Arts and Heritage Walt Secord and Shadow Minister for Corrective Services Tara Moriarty is State Labor’s spokesperson for Goulburn.

Mr Secord, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel visited the actual cemetery in late-October 2017.

Mr Secord paid tribute to Mr Gary Luke who has been advocating for the listing in association with the Australian Jewish Historical Society. (Mr Luke is the primary trustee of the Goulburn Jewish cemetery; was on the cemeteries committee of the National Trust of NSW and was a trustee of the Jewish Cemetery Trust of Rookwood.)

Headstone of Rebecca Moses, (Rivka bat Avraham Aveinu) aka Mary Connolly. The first woman converted to Judaism in Australia, converted by the Dayan of the London Beth Din who visited in 1830 to conduct an aguna gett for the sister in law of a convict. 

Ms Moriarty said: “We support the listing and now that it is on the Heritage register, we want to see that the NSW Government properly protecting this historic cemetery. It is part of our nation’s forgotten history.”

Mr Secord said: “Sadly, Jewish sites are under-represented on the NSW State Heritage Register and we welcome the inclusion of the Goulburn Jewish cemetery.”

During the 19th century, there were a significant number of Jews in NSW who lived in country areas, with communities in Goulburn, Maitland, Grafton and Broken Hill. At one point, Goulburn was the third-largest Jewish community in NSW.

Members of the Goulburn Jewish community were gold buyers, jewellery makers, traders and operators of boiling down works, however, by the 1880s, a decade of boom, the majority had left Goulburn.

In the 1840s Goulburn had a rich and active Jewish community associated with gold mining in the region. The 1851 census reported that there were 75 Jews in Goulburn.

Between 1861 and 1881, three Jewish MPs represented Goulburn in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

The Jewish cemetery was used from 1844 to 1943 and it was re-consecrated in 1987.

The Goulburn Jewish cemetery is maintained by the Goulburn-Mulwaree Council. It has around 25 known graves.  It has only 10 intact headstones.

The burials and the cemetery were associated with families of respected hotel owners, businessmen, industrialists and aldermen of early Goulburn and nearby towns.

The cemetery is located on Long Street in East Goulburn.

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