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THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AND FIRST WORLD WAR ENLISTMENT

By: Dr Klee Benveniste

THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AND FIRST WORLD WAR ENLISTMENT

About 12% of our South Australian Jewish community served in the first World War, the highest proportion of any congregation in the Commonwealth of Australia. There have been national efforts in Australia to undertake what is proving to be a difficult process of compiling a list of all the Jewish men and women who served in the First World War for centenary events. For South Australia, Adelaide Hebrew Congregation archivist and Board Member Dr Klee Benveniste started with the Congregation’s Roll of Honour board and has been researching digital newspapers and war service records in the National Archives of Australia on South Australian Jewish servicemen and women as this is extremely difficult for anyone outside Adelaide who does not know the community. As work continues, other Jews who served from the same family are being found and added to that list. Service records almost universally list them as Jewish or Hebrew, but in some cases the examining person recording height, hair colour etc, recorded another religion.

So far, at 24th April 2015, the Jewish men and women who enlisted who were born in South Australia, were from the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation or enlisted from South Australia and declared in their service records to be Jewish totals at least sixty with others still being considered which may take the total to more than eighty:

WORLD WAR I SERVICEMEN:

ABLESON, Coleman;  ABRAMOVITZ, Alexander;  ASHER, Felix;  ASHER, Rudolph;  BARNARD, Lancelot Lee;  BARNARD, Sydney Harry;  BENJAMIN, Louis;  BENJAMIN, Mark;  BLACK, Emanuel;  BLACK, Ernest;  FRANKENBURG, Edward;  GILD, Samuel;  GOLDBERG, Joseph;  HAINS, Clarence Louis;  HAINS, Harold Joseph;  HAINS, Ivan Coronel;  HAINS, Morris;  HAINS, Philip;  HAINS, Sidney Joseph;  ISRAEL, Reuben;  JACOBS, Arthur Abraham;  JACOBS, Clifford  Arthur;  JACOBS, David;  JACOBS, Emanuel (or Martin Edward);  JACOBS, Sullivan William;  JACOBS Sydney;  JUDELL, Cedric;  JUDELL, Elias (known Jewish , but listed as another religion) killed in action at Gallipoli and buried in grave no. 6 plot 2 Row Z of the Walker’s Ridge Cemetery;  KURTZ, David Mark;  LEVY, Elias;  LIPERT, Louis (or Lewis);  LIPMAN, Alfred Emile;  MEYER, Reginald Victor;  MORRIS, Alfred Levy;  MORRIS, Lewis George;  MORRIS, Roy Albert;  NAPHTALI (in records as NAPTHALI), Walter;   NETTER, Henry;  PIMENTAL, Morton Parker;  RABINOVITCH, Elijah Hurst;  RAPHAEL, Keith Simeon;  ROSENGARTEN, Arnold Leslie;  ROSENGARTEN, Leopold;  ROSENGARTEN, Leopold Jabille Gersham;  ROSENTHAL, Samuel;  SALOM, Bertram Philip;  SAUNDERS, Samuel Archie;  SIMMONS, Israel;  SIMMONS, Leon;  SOLOMON, Albert Yuba; SOLOMON, Louis Victor;  SOLOMON, Sidney Gordon;  SOLOMON, Sydney John; SOLOMONS, Leslie Emanuel;  VICTORSEN, Albert Joseph;  VICTORSEN, Talbot George;  VICTORSEN, Louis Charles (or Charles);  WHITEHILL, Thane formerly WEISBERG, Thain;  WOLFSON, Heyman;  WOOD, Gus Raymond.

WORLD WAR I NURSES: BENNETT, Miriam Adelaide; DANIELS, Sophia

Research has added more recorded as Jews at enlistment:  ADELSON Isidore; ASCHMAN Robert ;  BEHREND Oscar;  BLOUSTEIN Maurice (discharged); BLOUSTEIN, Solomon;  BIRNBERG, Lionel;  GORDON Samuel Louis; HARRIS Joseph, as well as some who enlisted in imperial forces overseas such as JACOBS, Isaac Charles (in South Africa).

Some of the soldiers who appear on lists but whose status is still to be determined; ISAAC, Alfred Ernest;  JOSEPH, Coleman Henry – Major (religion not declared);  JOSEPHS, Cyprian James;   JOSEPHS, Walter Charles;  MARTIN, Felix;  MYERS, Isaiah Myer;  SOLOMON, Douglas;  SOLOMON, Lawrie recorded as Laurie;  SUSMAN, Harold Steinfeld (Lieutenant, religion not declared);  and Nurse: BENNETT Rosetta.

So the number of Jews who served is still being verified and may never be finally known. There are many personal stories behind the names in documents and newspapers:

- Mrs Camens (nee HAINS) who applied in 1967 to obtain the medals of her brother Morris killed at Gallipoli in 1915 wrote in her letter that her four Hains brothers including two doctors, enlisted for active service.

- Mrs Hannah JACOBS, formerly from London, who ran various hotels in Adelaide including the Saracen’s Head and the Colonel Light Hotel (which has only recently closed this year) was noted by a newspaper to have six sons serve as soldiers in the war, five enlisted in Australia, one of whom was killed in action, and a sixth who enlisted from South Africa and not heard from since.

 “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”:

On Anzac Day (25th April, which falls on Shabbat this year) we remember the following South Australian Jewish men killed in action in World War I or II and other conflicts since:

Private Coleman ABELSON

- buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, Nord, France;

Stoker John Samuel ASHER

- buried in West Terrace Jewish Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia;

Private Sydney Harry BARNARD

-  buried in France, remembered at Villers Brettoneux Memorial, Somme, France;

Private Morris HAINS

- died at Gallipoli, buried at Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey;

Sergeant Arthur Abraham JACOBS (buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West- Vlaanderen, Belgium;

Quartermaster-Sergeant Elias JUDELL (died at Gallipoli, buried at Walker’s Ridge Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey;

Private Elias LEVY

- buried at Longueval Road Cemetery, Somme, France;

Private Eliezer Hurst RABINOVITCH

- buried at Suzanne Communal Cemetery extension, Somme, France;

Driver Samuel Archie SAUNDERS

- buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France;

Driver Samuel SOLONSCH

- Jakarta (ANCOL) Netherlands Field of Honour, Indonesia;

Also Commando Private Gregory Michel SHER who grew up in Adelaide, died in Afghanistan and was buried in Australia.

The work will be developed into a local Adelaide Hebrew Congregation Library display in our new ‘Hall of Fame’ museum so any photographs or further detail would be appreciated. Any financial support to Adelaide Hebrew Congregation Library Fund toward the project or the display materials or in memory of those who served, would be most gratefully received. The archivist is also planning to exhibit a never-before-displayed collection of photographs of Australian soldiers serving in Palestine donated to our AHC archives years ago by the niece of a local non-Jewish serviceman.

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Ten Things I Learned in Antarctica with the Unstoppables

Ten Things I Learned in Antarctica with the Unstoppables

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A l’chaim with some new friends

This past January-February, I was in Antarctica with over a hundred inspiring individuals. I went as part of the Unstoppables: a group of Entrepreneurial minded people dedicated to bettering the world. The trip was ten days of: learning, networking and collaborating. Here are ten things I learned on the trip:

  1. Spiritual Entrepreneurs:  I was surprised to find how many of the participants were interested in some form of spirituality.  Be it, meditation, religion, or even aliens. I found a lot of people to be looking for meaning in what they did. Many with money may enjoy spending it on physical pleasures, but they are seeking a deeper truth.
  2. Inspiration: I try to be inspired by everyone I meet. On the boat I was surrounded by people who were power- houses of inspiration. People who have done incredible things, not only in business, but in all areas of life.
  3. Humility: I enjoy meeting and surrounding myself with people who have done more than me. On the boat I met many individuals who have done things in certain areas well beyond where I am now, and it is humbling. With humility comes personal growth.
  4. Non-Judgmental: Amongst such a high caliber of people, I found a high tolerance for being non-judgmental and accepting. Some people live their lives with conflict and anger towards everyone and everything. To get to the top, you cannot waste energy fighting with others. Rather, through acceptance and understanding we can learn and grow from everyone and everything around us.

    Antarctica Penguins

    Contemplating the meaning of life

  5. No Nonsense: On the boat, I said something I should not have said, and someone called me out on it. I appreciated the high level of openness and brutal honesty, more so then I’ve ever experienced amongst the general public. If someone liked your idea they said so. If they thought it was crap they said so. Most people cannot handle brutal honesty and prefer being lied to. But highly confident people who really want to get somewhere in life prefer hearing the truth.
  6. Network Power: My network is very important to me, but at times I can forget that I must keep working on it. Surrounding oneself with good people is critical to success and converting them into your network doubly so.
  7. Going Blindly: The founder: Julio De Laffitte said at one presentation, something like this: “what do I know to be true which I am failing to see.” We can go through life ignoring things we should see until they hit us smack in the face. I believe we all do this to some degree. I will make this one of my favorite sayings.
  8. Strange Beliefs: As an orthodox Jew, sometimes I think some of my practices are strange. But on the boat I learned, there are people I respect who have stranger beliefs and weirder ritual practices.  If a belief or practice helps us become a better person while not harming anyone else, then it is usually fine to do.
  9. Montreal is colder then Antarctica: I thought it was going to be cold, but it was usually pleasant provided the wind wasn’t blowing. We had zero degrees there while it was -20 in Montreal.
  10. Alcohol on the Rocks: Tastes better with thousand year old ice chipped of an iceberg!
  11. Penguin Poo Stinks: Penguins may be cute, but they make lots of noise, and their poo stinks. I will not get one as a pet. (Note: the drunken British tourists fined for stealing a penguin from Australia sea world 2012…)
    Crossing the Antarctic Circle

    Crossing the Antarctic Circle

    I'm the one in the yellow jacket!

    I’m the one in the yellow jacket!

    Black ice and other ice

    Dave displays the difference in black ice!

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Keeping Shabbat in Antarctica

Sunset Antarctica

The Jewish day starts at night and finishes the next night. The question is, when exactly does the night begin? Does one day end at sunset and lead into the next, or does the new day begin only once the stars have come out – or perhaps at some point in between?

The Jewish Sabbath commences Friday at sunset and finishes Saturday at nightfall making roughly a twenty-five hour cycle. The Sabbath begins at sunset which is the earliest time we can recognize one day to have finished and the next day to have begun. The Sabbath ends, when the stars have come out because this is the latest point that we can say one day has ended and a new day has begun.

Before I left to Antarctica, I was concerned when would there be a sunset. It is often thought that during the summer in Antarctica, the sun does not set and during the winter the sun does not rise. This however is only true at the actual south pole and perhaps only for a short period of time. Outside of this, during the summer, the sun will dip below the horizon be it for a few minutes or hours etc. It may not get completely dark, but by the sun setting a new day is marked.

Some of The Rabbis of long ago, talk about lands where the sun does not set or rise for a period of time. They knew that such places existed and they debated over when the Sabbath would be observed. There are various opinions of what to do in these circumstances and a Rabbi should be consulted as what to do.

For me it was not an issue. Where we were Friday night there was a sunset. It was around 10.30pm and Shabbat was over at around 11.30pm. Because the boat was moving, I checked with the captain who was able to give the correct times depending on our given location at the moment.

One challenge was not being able to camp in Antarctica. There were thirty camping spots available and more than sixty people who wanted them. The camping spots were raffled off. I won a place and held on to it in hope that the camping excursion would not be on Friday or Saturday night. It ended up on Friday, so I gave away my place. The actual camping would not be an issue; the problem would be getting on to the boat on Saturday morning. According to Halacha it is permissible to be on a ship over Shabbat, but not to get on or off.

Perhaps on my next trip to Antarctica I’ll be able to camp.

Antarctica Iceberg

 

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Keeping Kosher in Antarctica

Antarctica Kosher

Words cannot do justice for what Antarctica looks like. Even photographic images and film can only give an idea. The magnitude and magnificence of a world of, ice, rock, and snow, some of it can be captured in an image. But what of the wind that bites into you regardless of how many layers you may be wearing – as you stand on the deck late at night while the ship breaks through pack ice. You hear the ‘crunch, crunch, crunch,’ and deep down you know you are secretly thinking, what if?

Antarctica is not a place where humans belong. G-d did not intend for us to be there and it is virtually impossible to survive for any lengthy period of time without product and support form off the continent. Perhaps this is a good thing? Antarctica is an incredibly fragile place and it would not take long for man to destroy it. Thankfully, today as people visit, there are many protocols and practices in place to preserve Antarctica’s ecosystem.

Rabbi in AntarcticaI feel blessed to have had the opportunity to experience the grandeur of Antarctica with over hundred fascinating people. I was part of a group of mostly Australian Entrepreneurs who gathered together to converse in, ‘how to get to the future first.’ Together, we brain stormed ideas of what the future would look like and what we collectively, and individually, could, and would do about it.

For me, one of my concerns prior to the trip was how I would keep kosher on the boat. I was sure there would be plenty of good food, but how much of it would I be able to eat. I brought along some energy bars, instant soups, oatmeal, as well as a box of matzo, just in case.

I figured I’d be able to sort something out with the chef when I got on the cruise. Nowadays, anyone working with sophisticated western tourists are usually inundated with all the diets and eating disorders we have: vegetarian, vegan, ovo- lacto-pesco phsycotarian, gluten free, Raw, paleo, low carb, diabetic, and in my case kosher. The challenge I find though with using the term kosher, is that I have come across countless interpretations of its meaning. The most common being, ‘kosher food is food blessed by a rabbi.’ Now I wish it was this simple. I being a rabbi, would never have a problem with food anywhere in the world and could happily order anything on the menu and bless it myself. However, kosher is far more complicated than this.

I don’t want to get into a long discourse now about what is, and what is not Kosher, instead, I prefer to speak about how I kept kosher on a boat in Antarctica. For starters, it was a lot easier then I had thought it would be. When I got on the boat and spoke with the head waiter Narandra, he seemed already versed in many aspects of kosher. He began showing me the kosher certifying symbols on many of the food products. Turns out, the company gets almost all their food in a container shipped from Miami. Anyone familiar with American kosher food products will know that a large percentage of available product is certified kosher. Things like peanut butter, jams, bolted milk, cereals, biscuits, and so on, are often kosher. Thus it was easy for me to find things to eat. Even the ice cream which was served every night was kosher. And strange as it were, and as cold as I was for some reason I still enjoyed eating the ice cream.

DSCF1411

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Visit of The Chief Rabbi Mirvis to Australia. What happened to Adelaide?

Adelaide Hebrew Congregation

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was appointed to the role of Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth following the retirement of Lord Jonathan Sacks in September 2013. We learn from a recent  ‘Australian Jewish News’ that Chief Rabbi Mirvis is currently making his first trip to Australia for 12 days, with visits to Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Then he travels to New Zealand to visit Auckland and Wellington.

In Perth he is speaking at Perth Hebrew Congregation on his vision for the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

In Sydney he is speaking at Central Synagogue, South Head Synagogue, the Jewish Learning Centre in North Bondi and at North Shore Synagogue and at various schools (Masada, Moriah, Mt Sinai and Kesser Torah Colleges), delivering an address for the 65thanniversary of Bnei Akiva and another at a public meeting at National Council of Jewish Women of Australia’s Fanny Reading House.

In Canberra he will attend the inauguration of the ACT Jewish community’s new Rabbi Alon Meltzer.

In Melbourne he visits Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, St Kilda Synagogue, Blake Street Hebrew Congregation, Mizrachi and Central Shule, as well as speaking at Mount Scopus Memorial College, Leibler Yavneh College and Bnei Akiva.

After travelling to New Zealand he will visit Wellington and Auckland to attend Rabbi Netanel Friedler’s inauguration at Auckland Hebrew Congregation on 1st December.

Original Adelaide synagogue consecrated 1850 on right and 1870 on leftAdelaide Hebrew Congregation is older than ALL of the above-mentioned Australian and New Zealand congregations of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth included in the list above. We were formed in 1848 by settlers arriving from England in the earliest ships arriving in South Australia. The customs and rituals, many of them written in detail and adopted by our congregation were based on those of Duke’s Place Synagogue in London from which many of the settlers and merchants came. These traditions are Ashkenazi, from Poland, and include various London shul rituals AHC has maintained for over 166 years. Our parade rituals honouring Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereishit, our pledges to charity at an aliya to the Torah, the prayer for the Queen and many other rituals and customs of our synagogue continue, probably unchanged, intriguing visitors, to this day.

At the time we moved to our new location in Glenside, the congregation’s previous Adelaide synagogue building, which was used for over 140 years, was the oldest continuously used synagogue in the southern hemisphere.

Our first qualified minister (and a Shakespearean scholar), Reverend Abraham Tobias Boas, served 50 years and was finally ordained as a Rabbi at his retirement, during a previous tour by a Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth; the Chief Rabbi noted that Rabbi Boas was the longest serving Jewish minister in the Commonwealth. Other past AHC Rabbis, including Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn and then Rabbi Baruch Davis (who now serves at Chigwell and Hainault synagogue in Essex) maintained our strong links with these traditions.

Although we are a tiny community, we are proud of our heritage and look forward to learning of the new vision of the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth for all the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

We remain, like a diamond in the sand, on some distant shore, waiting to be discovered again.

(This is a guest post by a member of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation)

You can read about Chief Rabbi Mirvis here: http://www.chiefrabbi.org/

 

 

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Parshas Vayera: Don’t Look Back

Parshas Vayera: Don’t Look Back

Change is hard.  Most of us are comfortable in our lives and our lifestyles.  It is no wonder that we find it hard to leave things behind.  A cruel boss, a toxic friendship, and a bad habit are all things we need to cut out of our lives but find hard to.  But even on a simpler level, we find it difficult to walk away.  How many times has a conversation with a group of friends turned to gossip or another subject that makes you uncomfortable, but you found yourself unable to turn around and walk away?

Change is really important for progress, advancement, and growth.  But that doesn’t make it easy to let go of the past.  Usually, when we make a change, whether it is breaking off a bad relationship or walking away from a conversation, we find it hard to sever our ties completely, even though that is the best thing to do.

In this week’s parsha, Sodom and Gemorrah are destroyed.  Of the two cities, the only people to survive are Lot and his family.  As they fled, they were given but one instruction: Don’t look back; you can never look back.  Nevertheless, Lot’s wife gave in to temptation and turned around to look back. As a result, she was turned into a pillar of salt.

How often are we turned into pillars of salt?  How often do we decide to make a change, only to turn back and end up feeling uncertain, rooted to the spot in a pillar of indecision?  This is not the way to make a change.

When we make a change, we must do so wholeheartedly.  We have to decide the best course of action, the right thing to do, and then pursue it with our whole selves.  We must flee Sodom without ever looking back.

This week, think about something in your life that needs to change.  What action can you take to make it happen?  Then take it! And, most importantly, keep your eyes on the prize, on your destination, and never look back.

Shabbat shalom!

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Parshas Lech Lecha: Everything in Life is a Test

Parshas Lech Lecha: Everything in Life is a Test

There once was a very wealthy, charitable, and highly respected man who would travel once a year to see his rebbe and get his blessing.  Every year on that Shabbos, everyone would treat him with the utmost respect and he would always get the most honored aliyah in the Shabbat service.  However, he was not just treated with respect because he was such a giving man; he was also treated with respect because people were a bit afraid of him, for he had the reputation of having a very bad temper.

One year, he went to his rebbe and said, “Rebbe, I have a problem and I need help. I have a problem with anger, and I cannot control my temper.” “There is no problem,” his rebbe replied. “But Rebbe,” he asked, “isn’t it considered very bad under Torah law to be angry? And I am always getting angry.” “It is not a problem,” his rebbe said again.  So, confused though he was, the man left his audience with the rebbe and trusted in his words.

After he left, the rebbe called in the gabbai of the shul and told him that instead of his usual honor, this man should receive the “honor” of tying the cover on the Torah scroll, something that children usually did. The gabbai was afraid and knew that the man would be very angry, so he thought he had better warn him.  He called him in and told him what the rebbe had said was to happen during the Shabbat service.

During the Shabbat service, everyone in the shul gasped when this prestigious man was passed over during the aliyot.  They all looked at him, expecting him to be furious, and were surprised to see him smiling serenely.  And when he was given the “honor” of tying up the Torah, everyone looked to him again, expecting him to be insulted, but he did his job with a smile.  Everyone was very surprised.

After the service, the rebbe came over and asked him how it was he managed not to get angry over this slight. “Well, Rebbe,” the man replied, “I knew you were just testing me!” “Ah,” said the rebbe, “so you see that your anger is not a problem, for everything in life is just a test!”

In this week’s parsha, we see some of the many tests given by G-d to Avraham.  The tests begin with him being told to leave his home, family, and friends, and to go into the unknown with no destination named, not an easy feat for an old man! And when he finally does arrive in Canaan, he is beset by famine.  The Egyptians capture his wife, Sarah, and then Avraham has to go to war against several kings. And the list continues on.  Yet, Avraham never wavered in his steadfast obedience to Hashem. He did not lose heart. He was not depressed. He did everything cheerfully.

So, too, is every difficulty in our lives a test.  We do not have to be a righteous tzaddik or a wealthy patron for G-d to care about us.  Just as a parent loves his/her poor child as much as his/her wealthy one, G-d loves each and every one of us, no matter what our faults may be.  And just as we challenge our own children to broaden their horizons and we give them opportunities to show how they have grown, we too are given tests by Hashem, in order to help us demonstrate our growth.  So this week, if temptation or difficulty comes your way, rise to the challenge. Meet it head-on, with a smile. Remember, it’s only a test!

Shabbat shalom!

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