Synagogue Museum

Synagogue of the Outback Museum

Broken Hill’s Synagogue is one of only three Synagogues outside Sydney, NSW to have been preserved, restored and heritage-listed. The property is owned by the Broken Hill Historical Society and now houses the Synagogue of the Outback Museum.

The museum is one of the most remote Jewish museums in the world, with its Synagogue reminding us of the evolution of the Jewish community in regional Australia.

Where we are

The Synagogue Museum is at 165 Wolfram Street, Broken Hill.

Where we are Synagogue

When we’re open

The museum is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm or by appointment with the Synagogue Museum’s Coordinator, Margaret Price. You can contact the Coordinator to make an appointment via:

  • Telephone                               08 8088 7448
  • Mobile                                     0439 680 944
  • Email                                       margaret_price@hotmail.com.au

Entry fee

There is no entry fee, but donations are very welcome.

Synagogue history

A vibrant and successful community of Jewish people existed in Broken Hill for three generations from the 1880s to the 1960s, most of whom had their origins in Central and Eastern Europe.

In 1900 when there were about 150 in the local Jewish community, a Hebrew congregation was formed. Religious services were initially held at the Masonic Hotel and, in 1905, Rev. Mandelbaum was appointed minister. In 1907, the Wolfram Street site was granted by the NSW government for the erection of a Synagogue.

The foundation stone was laid on 30 November 1910 by Solomon Saunders, President of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation. The Consecration of the Synagogue was performed by Rabbi F L Cohen of the Sydney Synagogue on 26 February 1911.

Following the slow decline of the Jewish community in Broken Hill during the 1950s, in 1962 the Synagogue closed and its scrolls and silverware were transferred to a Melbourne synagogue (although replicas of some original items are now included in the museum collection). The last Rabbi to serve the Broken Hill congregation was Abraham Berman.

Kippah of Rabbi Abraham Berman

The kippah of Rabbi Berman donated to the museum by his family

The building was subsequently used as a residence. In 1989, however, a permanent conservation order was placed on the building. The building had declined but was saved through the efforts of people such as Alwyn Edelman and Harold Griff, descendants of Jewish families in Broken Hill, and also local historians Richard (Dick) Kearns.

The Synagogue was purchased by the Broken Hill Historical Society in 1990 and restored as the Society’s headquarters, which were opened in 1991. The Society later built, at the back of the Synagogue complex, the Ralph Wallace Research Centre, which then became the Society meeting room. The work of building the collection now held in the Synagogue of the Outback Museum has taken place over many many years.

Torah replica

A replica of a Torah showing the first page of Genesis in the First Book of Moses

This replica of a Torah was given to the Historical Society on 13 February 2017 by Ronald and Devorah Zmood and Benzion and Barbara Eras. Dr Zmood constructed the Torah replica and Mr Benzion constructed the display case.  The Zmood and Benzion families drove from Melbourne to deliver the replica and case to the Broken Hill Synagogue.

In March 2018 the Synagogue Museum had the pleasure of participating in and helping host a celebratory happening: a five-day visit of over sixty members from the Orthodox Jewish Ark Centre in Hawthorn, Melbourne where the Synagogue was once again used for worship.

Women from the Ark Centre in Melbourne sitting in the womens' section of the Broken Hill Synagogue

Women from the Ark Centre sitting in the women’s section of the Broken Hill Synagogue

Women from the Melbourne Ark Centre praying in the Synagogue

Women from the Ark Centre praying in the Synagogue

Further information

Further detailed information about the Synagogue of the Outback Museum is offered at the Broken Hill City Council site, under Outback Museums.