Main content area

NSW war memorial

BACK TO ALL STORIES

On 11 November 1923, the NSW Jewish Memorial Hall, in Darlinghurst, Sydney, was officially opened to much fanfare by Sir John Monash, then thought of by many as the greatest living Australian. The opening of the hall by Monash - the nation's most decorated solider and significant Jewish citizen - demonstrates the importance of this event to the Jewish community of NSW.

Designed by Sydney architect and Jew, Gordon Keesing, the hall was commonly known as the Maccabean Hall, honouring the 'fighting Maccabees' of ancient Hebrew fame. It was built as a memorial to the Australian Jewish soldiers and sailors who had served in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, and also stood as a symbol of the strength of commitment of Australian Jewry to king and country.

The hall had two main functions: it operated as a venue for all the social, educational and sporting activites of the Jewish community in Sydney, and provided a focal point for the newly arrived to encourage integration.

In his opening address, Sir John Monash confirmed the future role of the Memorial Hall:

'It has the aim of keeping the Jewish people together and preserving the creed, perpetuating the faith...to prevent the regrettable drift that is making many of our people cease from owing allegiance to the religion of their fathers...'

Since 1983, the NSW Jewish War Memorial Hall has been home to the Sydney Jewish Museum.

[Proposed Jewish War Memorial hall and club rooms : sketch design, perspective sketch]
ca. 1925
Keesing, Gordon Samuel, 1881-1972
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5746001
[Loreto Convent, Kirribilli ; Bondi Synagogue ; New South Wales Jewish War Memorial, Maccabean Hall and Institute]
ca. 1926-1936
E. B. Studios
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5750004
About this item: 

Full title: New South Wales Jewish War Memorial : v.1: banquet in celebration of the opening of the memorial building by General Sir John Monash, Sunday, (Armistice Day), November 11th, 1923, v.2: order of proceeding at the opening of the Communal Hall ; v.3: first annual report.

New South Wales Jewish War Memorial :...v.2: order of proceeding at the opening of the Communal Hall
1923
Digital ID: 
a5695004
View collection item detail
New South Wales Jewish War Memorial : banquet in celebration of the opening of the memorial building by General Sir John Monash, Sunday, (Armistice Day), November 11th, 1923.
1923
Digital ID: 
a5695005
View collection item detail
New South Wales Jewish War Memorial : banquet in celebration of the opening of the memorial building by General Sir John Monash, Sunday, (Armistice Day), November 11th, 1923.
1923
Digital ID: 
a5695006
View collection item detail
Portrait of Sir John Monash taken outside the General's headquarters near Villers-Bretonneux in May, 1918, printed 17 October, 1931 and Leader of the A.I.F.
17 October, 1931
Digital ID: 
a5747001
View collection item detail
New South Wales Jewish War Memorial : banquet in celebration of the opening of the memorial building by General Sir John Monash, Sunday, (Armistice Day), November 11th, 1923.
1923
Digital ID: 
a5695001
View collection item detail
New South Wales Jewish War Memorial : banquet in celebration of the opening of the memorial building by General Sir John Monash, Sunday, (Armistice Day), November 11th, 1923.
1923
Digital ID: 
a5695002
View collection item detail
[Loreto Convent, Kirribilli ; Bondi Synagogue ; New South Wales Jewish War Memorial, Maccabean Hall and Institute]
ca. 1926-1936
E. B. Studios
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5750005

The New Jew

By the 1920s, Australian Jewry had developed a philosophy of non-distinctiveness in everything except religion. Many Jews feared the distinctiveness that European immigrants carried through their language, dress and culture but realised that survival of their community within an Anglo Australian society depended on new arrivals. The opening of the NSW Jewish War Memorial Hall (commonly known as the Maccabean Hall) and Club Rooms gave Sydney’s Jews a meeting place where new arrivals could begin their assimilation into the local community. It also provided a much needed venue for young people to mix and mingle while strengthening their cultural identity through language, social interaction and sport.

Jewish sporting associations were established across Australia in the first decades of the twentieth century with the social side of competitive sport playing an important part in the revitalisation of Jewish communities around the country. Annual interstate Jewish sporting carnivals began in the 1920s, and in 1950 the first Australian team competed at the 3rd Maccabi Games in Israel.

Of the sports represented at these carnivals, including tennis, athletics, gymnastics and swimming, only cricket excluded women. As well as participating in sport, women also carried out more traditional roles as spectators and providers of food and refreshments at dances and other fund-raising activities associated with sporting groups.

Jewish tennis
January 1939
Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18635
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18626
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18618
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18621
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18622
Jewish mens physical culture teams; No 27
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18607
Jewish mens physical culture teams; No 27
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18608
Jewish women's physical culture teams
Sam Hood
Digital ID: 
hood_18632
View collection item detail
Jewish women's physical culture teams
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18633
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18627
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18625
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18629
Jewish Sports Association
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18628
Hood Collection part II : [Sports, Tennis, Davis Cup, competition, country and social]
ca. 1930-ca. 1950
Digital ID: 
a412009
View collection item detail
Hood Collection part II : [Sports, Tennis, Davis Cup, competition, country and social]
ca. 1930-ca. 1950
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a412003
Jewish cricket
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18612
Jewish cricket
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18613
Jewish cricket
January 1939
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_18614

Australian Jewish community and culture is made possible through a partnership with the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.