Synagogue Museum 2019
Margaret Lee Price
After the excitement of last year’s visit from the Orthodox Jewish Ark Centre in Hawthorn, Melbourne, this year at the Synagogue Museum has proved to be a relatively quiet one but, as always, fascinating.
Visits in 2019
In 2019, five hundred and fifty visitors came through the Synagogue of the Outback Museum’s doors, some from as far away as Romania, Ireland and Germany—to name just a few countries. Many also came from all across Australia. So knowledge about the Synagogue of the Outback Museum is certainly still spreading, both nationally and internationally.
This year, too, I also found myself making morning or afternoon tea in the dining room of the Synagogue complex for at least four different and very interesting groups of visitors.
The first three groups were tourists, brought to the Synagogue by the tourist guide from the Rakow Street Caravan Park, and were of mixed faith, but nevertheless fascinated by the Synagogue and the museum. It’s wonderful, by the way, to be developing this partnership in tourism with the Caravan Park.
The final group was very special. It entailed a small number of Jewish people from Brisbane, who then had morning tea with me—using the Museum’s Royal Doulton china tea set (donated by the estate of deceased member Bill O’Neil), this itself a separate little pleasure we all enjoyed. The Brisbane group were so interested in spending time researching local Jewish history that they went out, bought lunch, and came back to share it, ultimately spending at least three hours in the museum.
Another special visit occurred in November when a group of students from Broken Hill High School came particularly to look at the Synagogue itself, loved it, and were delightfully appreciative.
Two donations of special items have been made by the Under the Silver Tree bookshop this year.
The first is a rare collection of poetry by the last-known Jewish person in Broken Hill who had been part of the Jewish Congregation, Alwyn David Edelman. He died in August 2005 and is buried in the Jewish section of the local cemetery.
This poem by Edelman is displayed on a vintage truck filled with mullock on the Broken Hill Line of Lode, reminding the observer of the dangers of mining
The second donation from the Bookshop consisted of two bound copies of Cassier’s Magazine. These cover the years 1900–1907 and 1912.
They came from the Broken Hill South Silver Mining Co. Ltd Mine Library and have now been collected as valuable acquisitions for the mining section of the general research library held at the Synagogue Museum.
We have been fortunate this year to have small amounts of work undertaken by various volunteers. They have:
- painted all the wood and iron at the rear of the Synagogue and of the Rabbi’s Residence
- put shade cloth on the shade shield at the back door
- repainted all our metal tables and repaired the BBQ by adding wheels to allow it to be moved easily
- laid paving at the rear of the kitchen under the seat
- repaired the left-hand window at the front of the Synagogue.
This year a new connection was made with a Jewish community, JCA, in Sydney. JCA is the communal hub of the NSW and ACT Jewish communities, connecting the needs of the Jewish community with the services that member organisations provide in the areas of aged care, community care, engagement and culture, education, history and heritage, social justice and outreach and security and advocacy. JCA’s role incorporates planning, engagement, fundraising and facilitation (see their website here.)
For the last four years JCA has run a ‘Shark Tank’ event, in which the organisation encourages other not-for-profit organisations, particularly start-ups led by younger generations, to ‘pitch’ an argument for why their concept should be funded by JCA.
As an organisation connected with the ‘history and heritage’ of Jewish culture and community, we (SOTOM) were (unexpectedly) invited to apply to participate in the 2019 ‘Shark Tank’ event. With our application in, a little to our surprise, we were then accepted, and asked to come to Sydney and ‘pitch’ our reasons for why we should gain some of the funding available from the JCA Shark Tank. Preparations were challenging, to say the least, with a pre-event video having to be recorded here (thank you Ross Wecker!), but the event went well. By the end of the night, everyone achieved some financial support. (JCA 2019, ‘JCA Jumpstart Shark Tank 2019 breaks records’, [Accessed 20.1.20].)
Above and below: Margaret Price in Sydney pitching to the JCA Shark Tank event.
While not winning a prize directly, the Synagogue of the Outback Museum is waiting to hear what amount of funding might be forthcoming for planned projects in 2020.
One other very positive outcome has been the museum gaining a new and very strong connection with Jewish communities in Sydney and the ACT.
Although there were no major events for the Synagogue of the Outback Museum in 2019, it is possible that one might be coming up in 2020, as it is the 110th anniversary of the year the Synagogue’s foundation stone was laid.
About the author: Margaret Price is a Life Member of the BHHSoc and has been the Coordinator of the Synagogue of the Outback Museum for almost 12 years.