Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mazal Tov Jewish Museum!

L-R: Rabbis J.L. Gurewicz, J. Danglow, I.J. Super, I. Brodie
Inspection of Melbourne abbatoirs 1930's
(from Chaim Freedman's blog)

According to a report in the Australian Jewish News the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne just purchased the remaining documents in the "Gurewicz Archive". Thanks to the help of the Pratt Foundation the archive remains in Australia where it belongs.

Unfortunately it took the sale of these historical documents to an American purchaser for the Australian Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Museum to wake up to the fact that they were losing a valuable piece of history. The auction catalogue (click here and search on "Gurewicz") describes who Rabbi Gurewicz was and the importance of these papers.
Born in Vilna in 1885, Rabbi Gurewicz arrived in Australia in 1932, becoming the spiritual head of the United Congregations of Carlton. Rabbi Gurewicz was an authority in Halachic matters; in addition, he possessed dynamic leadership skills, was a good Yiddish orator - which was the language of the time in Carlton - and he quickly became fluent in English. He also had phenominal organizational skills, which partly explains why we now have the opportunity to view his files of documents, literally covering all matters related to Judaism and reflecting the variety of issues confronting Melbourne Jewry in the 1930s to 1950s. He kept everything. Of particular importance are the documents illustrating his involvement during the War years in obtaining immigration permits and helping refugees and newcomers settle in Australia.
Hopefully the documents will be placed on display to the public before they are transferred to the State Library where they will eventually be housed.