ABRAHAM TOBIAS BOAS 1842 –1923

(Presented at the May 17 meeting of the SA Council of Christians and Jews by Merrilyn Ades)

Just from what I have read about this wonderful man, I have a warm feeling for him.  He was not an ordained rabbi, but came to Australia a reverend or minister.

Abraham Boas was born in Amsterdam in 1842, the son of Rabbi Tobias Boas and his wife Eva Salomon Levi.

Rev Boas was educated at Amsterdam Theological Seminary until the age of 23, when he went across the North Sea to England to further his studies.  In 1867 he became the Minister at the South Hampton Synagogue where his conduct encouraged the Chief Rabbi to recommend him to the South Australian Hebrew Congregation. A small group of Jews had arrived in South Australia from as early as 1836 following on from when Jacob Montefiore was appointed one of 11 commissioners in the setting up of South Australia as a free colony.  Public worship was held until 1844 in a small room in Tavistock Street.

The synagogue in Rundle Street was built on land owned by George Morphett (who sold it for $280 – (equal to approx almost 2 million $ today) and soon there were more than 130 subscribing members in the congregation. In 1869 Abraham Boas was chosen by the congregation in Adelaide and in November of that year the Jewish Chronicle reported that the Rev A T Boas had accepted the office of Minister and Lecturer. During his three month voyage to Adelaide, the ship (The Tamesa) lost most of her mast, rigging and sails in a cyclone east of the Cape of Good Hope, but survived and arrived safely at Semaphore on 13thFebruary 1870.

The young 28 year-old minister was met by several members of the local Jewish congregation, who accompanied him on his walk from Semaphore to Port Adelaide, where he caught the train to the city,  He boarded with Gabriel Bennett and family.  (When Gabriel Bennett died in 1895, excerpts from his obituary reported in the Advertiser read as follows:  Stockbreeders and dealers and the sporting community in particular will receive with much regret the news of the death of Mr Gabriel Bennett, one of the oldest auctioneers and sporting patrons in the colony.  His death, which occurred at his residence in Gover Street North Adelaide was not unexpected.  On his arrival in Adelaide from Melbourne in 1853 he commenced business as a butcher in Hindley Street.  As a member of the Jewish community, Mr Bennett always took great interest in synagogue affairs, and held office in several capacities, including President, laying the foundation-stone of the old synagogue assisted by Rev Boas.  He was an ardent supporter of the agricultural society, acting as a judge on many occasion as well as horse-racing in this state. He was survived by five children and eight grandchildren.)

On the first Sabbath following his arrival (19thFebruary), Boas preached his first sermon to the Adelaide congregation, and before long, he became an active participant in many aspects of South Australian life.

The following month, March 1870, the South Australian Advertiser reported that the recently arrived Jewish minister had delivered an address at the Town Hall to a large attendance which was characterised by great ability and eloquence and listened to very attentively.  A few weeks later, Boas gave another lecture at Prince Alfred Wesleyan College and other educational institutions and conducted several marriage ceremonies.  One of the first was for Alfred Myers of Wallaroo and Rebecca Hains, who were married in the Oddfellows Hall at Port Adelaide on 16 November 1870.

Abraham Boas became involved with the Adelaide Theological College and conducted exams in Hebrew.  Later, he willingly placed his rich knowledge of Hebrew literature at the disposal of the theological students of Christian faith and became a well-known figure in all movements intended to enhance the cultural and material good of the community.  Some of his children attended Prince Alfred College for their education.

When proposals were made for the establishment of a university, a committee, with Boas elected to the council, met in October 1872 to discuss how donations collected were to be used.

In May 1873, at the age of 31, he married Adelaide born Elizabeth Solomon, who was the daughter of Isaac Solomon, an early pioneer, and together they had 10 children.

Boas was well-read and esteemed as a student of English literature and drama, particularly of Shakespeare.  He was Vice-President of the University Shakespearean Society from 1887.  When he gave the Shakespeare Anniversary Lecture in June 1901, he made the suggestion that a statue of the Bard he erected on the reserve facing the university but that was never done.

Down to earth and thoughtful, but broad-minded and anxious to be of service to other denominations as well, he was a welcome visitor at the YMCA and often lectured on aspects of Jewish life and Old Testament history.  He was a committee member of the Inebriate Asylum and also spoke in support to form a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  He became secretary of the South Australian branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association.  Not afraid to speak his mind, he was a valued member of any committee.

In 1882 he became the treasurer of the Syrian Colonization Fund which aimed to assist Russian Jews to settle in north Syria and engage in agricultural pursuits and two years later was elected to the Strangers’ Friend and Charity organisations society, followed by becoming a committee member of the Hospital Charity Saturday and Sunday.

When Queen Victoria’s jubilee was celebrated in 1887, he delivered an appropriate sermon in the synagogue and sang God Save the Queen in Hebrew.  In August it was reported that among the numerous loyal addresses to her Majesty from South Australia, one of the best and certainly the most original in design was that which spoke of the loyalty of the Hebrew colonists.

In July 1891 at a meeting at the Fremantle Town Hall in WA chaired by the Premier Sir John Forrest, he delivered a talk on the topic of “popular proverbs” quoting some examples such as:  “God heals – the doctor takes the fees”.

Boas became a foundation member of the District Training Nursing Society, chairman of the James Brown Memorial Trust for housing needy tuberculosis patients.  This foundation built a hospital at Belair and bought Escort House for £3000 and paid another £4000 to make it a home for crippled children and blind aged people. By the end of the year he had completed 25 years of service to the Jewish community.

During that same year, above and beyond his many other commitments, he attended meetings of the District Training Nursing Association, the Indian Famine Fund, Adelaide Jewish Literary Society, of which he was president, the Home for Incurables and many more.  No wonder one newspaper stated that his ministry was one of energetic, spiritual, social and intellectual leadership.

The influence of Abraham Tobias Boas was far greater and wider than his role as minister to the Jewish community might suggest and apart from his visits to Broken Hill and Western Australia, he also addressed gatherings in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston.  He actively created goodwill both within and outside the Jewish community by membership on boards of many inter-denominational philanthropic, social and cultural bodies.

Whilst Rev Boas became the longest-serving Jewish minister in the British Empire in 1914, a reception to honour the occasion was held, and in his address in reply he stated:  I have tried to be of some use to my fellow men, Jew and Gentile, in the spheres of charity and benevolence and in that of literature.  My humble endeavours have been to render the name of Jew respected and I believe in this, my efforts resulted in some measure of success.”

He finally resigned from official duties in 1918, two years after the death of his wife in 1916, in consequence of a stroke from which he never fully recovered.  In 1921, he was given the official status of Rabbi in recognition of more than 50 years’ service to the Adelaide congregation.  He died in February 1923 at his home in Gover Street, North Adelaide and was buried in the Jewish section of the West Terrace Cemetery. He was survived by nine of his children.

His death was reported in all South Australian, interstate and many country newspapers with some of them inserting lengthy obituaries.  Some of the statements referred to him as a “valuable citizen, a venerable rabbi, a true minister of religion with a fine career of usefulness and eagerness to help any denomination”.

Torah Study: David and Batsheva

Is the tale of David and Batsheva one of love or abuse of power? Or both? Come along for our second Torah study looking at women’s themes in the Bible and beyond. Saturday at 12:30 pm

EMANUEL SOLOMON 1800 – 1873

(Presented at the May 17 meeting of the SA Council of Christians and Jews by Merrilyn Ades)

Emanuel Solomon arrived in Australia at the age of 18 on the ship Lady Castlereagh, with his younger brother Vaiben Solomon, as convicts in 1818. Both had been convicted of larceny and transported to the colony. After serving their sentence of 7 years, Emanuel married fellow convict Mary Wilson in 1826. She had also been convicted of larceny and sentenced in the Old Bailey with life imprisonment.

With the arrival in Sydney of the brothers’ parents and many family members, Emanuel and his brother Vaiben set up a business in Sydney as merchants, until Emanual left Sydney for Adelaide in 1837 where he solidly established himself as a respectable citizen.

The brothers had accumulated property and land in Sydney and Bathurst but Emanuel bought a share in a South Australian land grant and became the resident partner in Adelaide for the company with most of the trade carried between the two cities by their brig the “Dorset”.

They employed their nephew Judah Moss Solomon to work on the Dorset back and forth from Sydney to Adelaide.

We don’t know what happened to Emanuel’s first wife, but at the age of 44 he married his second wife, Cecilia Smith, Given that Cecilia was an Irish Catholic from Cork, they were unable to be married in a synagogue or a catholic church so the autumn ceremony took place at a Presbyterian Church. By that time, they had more than one baby and eventually, Cecilia bore Emanuel two boys and four girls, amongst them Elizabeth, who married her first cousin; Julia, who eloped in 1864 and became the matriarch of an important Darwin dynasty; and Rosetta, who married the proprietor of the Monster Clothing Palace in Hindley Street, Adelaide. There were multitudinous grandchildren.

The same year that Cecilia died, 1852, he married Catherine Abrahams, who was a 25 years old Jewish girl (they had seven children) .

Through the financially disastrous years of the early 1840s, Solomon was one of the few businessmen who maintained faith and held firm in the city, and noting that the city had no theatrical or dramatic performance hall, he built his Queen’s Theatre, the first purpose-built theatre in the mainland colonies. It opened with a performance of Othello by a Sydney company in January 1841 and crowds picked their way through the mud of the streets to get there. Emanuel Solomon did everything he could to encourage the enjoyment of entertainment in Adelaide, outlaying large sums of money with little return; but by the end of 1842 – the year that South Australia became just another Crown colony – the theatre had to close.

On behalf of the 48 Jewish citizens living in Adelaide in the early 1840s Emanuel applied to the government for a grant for a synagogue on the same footing as his Christian brethren, but there is no reference to a grant being given in the following years for a synagogue to be built. He had built a tavern at the side of the Queen’s Theatre, where weekly religious services were held and on 10 September 1848, 44 Jewish men met at Emanuel Solomon’s Temple Tavern and agreed to form the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation and eventually build a synagogue.

The grand sum of £5/7/3 was collected for the purpose of rendering assistance to the poor and needy and Emanuel founded the Adelaide Hebrew Philanthropic Society in 1852 for the purpose of supporting Jews in distress or needing monetary assistance.

A collection was then taken up for a permanent place of worship from which £103/4/0 was received. It was proposed at that time that the sum expended for the building of a synagogue not exceed £400. The land was purchased, and consecration of the first synagogue in SA was held on 5th September 1850. At the consecration, a toast was proposed to Emanuel Solomon for obtaining a grant from the government for a section of the West Terrace Cemetery for the burial of Jews. Emanuel then donated 21 guineas for the purpose of hiring a rabbi or minister as that first number of 48 Jews in Adelaide in the early 1840s grew to 360 by 1860.

Solomon developed property on blocks in the city and was a shareholder and board member of the South Australian Mining Association, involved in the Burra copper mine. Later, as citizens drawn by Victorian goldfields left Adelaide, he subscribed to a fund for exploration for gold in South Australia. The region, however, proved all-but devoid of the fabled element.

In the State Library, there is a book of some 127 letters that Emanuel wrote to his brother Vaiben and other family members during the period of trading between Adelaide and Sydney on his ship Dorset. These letters certainly indicate that he liked to micro-manage the business.

The correspondence tells the story of ruthless competition between rival ship-owners, each striving to eliminate his rivals and obtain a monopoly of the inter-colonial trade, and it throws

light on sharp practices which are as old as commerce itself—secret rebates, rings of buyers at auction sales, and collusion between merchants tendering for Government contracts. And of course there are complaints in the letters of pilfering by sailors and wharf labourers, especially of cargoes of beer.

In one of his letters he writes: “We have down here premises worth 20,000 but there is no demand for selling or letting them at present. If you make up your mind to carry on the business I will suggest one plan, that you sell my land on the Parramatta Road, sell my premises in Liverpool Street and you must do the same. Our merchants down here are very few & nearly all have been insolvent and have not the premises to carry on the business – I owe very little having no bill or paper out with my name on – the only liability I have is about 200 to the Bank which was 500 before I reduced it more than one half.”

In his letters Solomon unwittingly paints his own portrait, and though one recoils from a certain ruthless and vindictiveness towards his rivals, it is clear that he possessed in good measure the experience, vigour, and decisiveness necessary for success. He was tireless in his search for profitable openings and was quick to seize every opportunity that offered. He traded in a multitude of things, importing from Sydney things such as toys, musical instruments, snuff, sets of chessmen, playing cards, babies’ bonnets, parasols, spectacles, peppermints, candle snuffers, beer engines, castor oil, and handcuffs. Nothing was too large or too small for him to handle.

In one of his business letters, he inserts just one sentence of a private or personal nature amongst business: “P.S. I feel much surprised that strangers here should know what is going on in our family better than myself I understand that Judah & Isaac are both married yet I have never received any notice at all of it – I wish you to let me know how boots & shoes will sell. Also do not send any more champagne cider as we go can get it here for the same price. There will be a quantity of things to go from here as well as grain of which there will be plenty as a great deal of our wheat is already in ear.”

To read these letters is to share the hopes and fears, successes and disappointments of one of our pioneer merchants, and to see at close quarters, the fabric of commercial life during a momentous period of South Australian history.

Emanuel somehow seemed to manage to keep his convict start in Australia a complete secret as he was a Member for the House of Assembly for West Adelaide (1862-65) and Member for the Legislative Council (1867-71). In between his stints on the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council, in 1866 Solomon was badly injured when he was knocked down by a vehicle. He never really recovered; yet he influenced affairs in his adopted territory almost to the last. Skilfully negotiating the narrow pass between genuine benevolence and ostentation, Solomon expressed his pride of place in 1871, by inviting more than five hundred pioneers of the colony to a grand banquet at the Town Hall celebrating the 35th anniversary of the foundation of South Australia. Some of the guests at this banquet included Sir John Morphett, Sir GS Kingston, Captain Hart and the Hon Henry Ayres. The papers reported “never before have we seen gathered together in the colony such an assembly.”

Although Emanuel achieved so much for South Australia he is mainly remembered for providing refuge to the sisters of St Joseph and the nun who became Australia’s first saint.

Toward the end of 1871, when Mary MacKillop was excommunicated by Bishop Sheil, her Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart were ordered to vacate their home immediately. Thinking fondly, perhaps, of his deceased Catholic wife, Emanuel Solomon stepped in to provide the Sisters with two Flinders Street properties in which to live, rent free. He insisted that their good work must continue.

It is a twist of history that sees Solomon remembered primarily, now, for this act of kindness – one of many magnanimous gestures in the course of his long life. Happily, however, on the occasion of Mary MacKillop’s canonisation in 2010, the owners of the Solomon brothers’ charming painted portraits, offered to lend them to the Mary Mackillop Gallery. They can be seen hanging now, adjacent to the woman Emanuel Solomon helped because he could – rather than spurning her because her faith was different from his own.

(Nephew Judah also had a political career: Alderman, Gawler ward 1852-54; M.H.A. City of Adelaide 1858-60; M.L.C. 1861-66; M.H.A. for West Adelaide 1871-75; mayor of Adelaide 1869-71. He acted as a coroner, and was the first President of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation. He died of cancer in August 1880 in Adelaide and was survived by 7 of his 16 children from his 2 wives. One of his sons, Vaiben Louis Solomon was treasurer of S.A. and in 1899 became the shortest serving Premier of South Australia (7 days) He was a member of the first Federal Parliament until 1903. Quite an upward progress for the Solomon family after such a felonious start in Australia!)

 

Coming this week to Torah Study: A study guide on sexual misconduct in the Hebrew Bible and in Jewish Tradition

The Central Conference of American Rabbis Task Force on Women in the Rabbinate has created this fascinating insight into women’s issues in Jewish tradition. Our next three Torah study sessions will be dedicated to exploring different issues of sexual misconduct in the Bible and beyond. This Saturday’s theme: Kol Ishah, the rabbinic prohibition on hearing women sing. All welcome at 12:30 pm.

Shavuot Milk Drive

This year we are hoping to assist the work of FOODBANK, in their breakfast program for school kids.

 

They are in constant need of LONG LIFE MILK.

 

Please, in the run up to Shavuot, or on the day itself, bring along a carton of LONG LIFE MILK (any kind).

 

A special box for donations will be in the sanctuary.

 

Hungry kids find it more difficult to concentrate, let’s help them this SHAVUOT.

 

Rabbi Kaminsky is happy to buy milk from Costco for anyone who would like – $10 for 10 litres.

Holocaust Centre makes ABC National News

Andrew Steiner is in the news this month with an article covering the creation and capital launch of The Steiner Centre for Compassion and Holocaust Remembrance.
The project has been developed to establish a unique contemporary Centre for Compassion and Holocaust Remembrance in the city of Adelaide. The centre will ensure remembrance to future generations about the Holocaust and commemorate the six million Jews and other innocent victims murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.

The capital campaign launch for The Steiner Centre for Compassion and Holocaust Remembrance was held on 25 March 2018, with keynote speaker Mr Alpha Cheng, a Canberra based High School Teacher, Multiculturalism and Diversity Advocate and 2017 ACT Young Australian of the Year Finalist. Alpha, the son of Curtis Cheng who was tragically shot by a 15-year old extremist outside NSW Police Headquarters in October 2015, delivered an impassioned address to the many people who attended the launch, encouraging us all to support to the centre.

It is not too late to have an impact, and become a contributor towards a kinder and more compassionate future for your children and generations to come. More information will be
sent in coming months.

Help us share the lessons of Holocaust history

To donate please contact admin@ahmsec.org.au


Visit article on ABC news here:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-27/holocaust-survivor-on-mission-to-launch-adelaides-firstmuseum/95883346

Bringing food to Synagogue

For functions at our synagogue please assume food is vegetarian (with fish and dairy allowed). The exception is when a “Meat” meal is specified, where meat including
chicken is allowed ( but no dairy).

Pop up meals and Kiddushes following a Bar or Bat Mitzvah are always vegetarian (fish and dairy allowed). It is our custom to separate meat and milk.

Thanks for helping maintain our traditions!

Rabbi in Indonesia – Enrichment from Afar

I’m writing this month’s column on a plane from Japayura to Bali at the end of an extraordinary ten days. I’ve had Shabbat in Jakarta and Jayapura, with a visit to Timika on the south coast of Papua squeezed in between. I’ve enjoyed wonderful reunions and had way too many tearful goodbyes. It only happens once each year, but I’m reminded that this is my second Jewish community.

My colleague Rabbi David Kunin from Tokyo has noted several times on this trip how neither of us could ever have imagined we would end up serving Jews across the Indonesian archipelago. Our travels have taken us thousand sof kilometres across the multiple islands that make up this fascinating country. I observed that many Australians think of Bali as its own country, surrounded by a strange and not particularly interesting Muslim nation called Indonesia. My experience has been entirely different: Indonesia has six different official religions, and even though Judaism is not officially recognized, there is definitely space here for religious expression. There are a variety of ethnicities, languages and dialects, and a large variation in food from one end to the other. What I love most about coming to Indonesia is how it enriches my own Jewish identity. Shabbatot in Adelaide are lovely, but it’s invaluable to celebrate Shabbat elsewhere and be reminded that it can be done differently. As far as I can tell, the Jews of Indonesia make each Shabbat special and precious. They count down the days until they can be together again to make a joyful noise to God. It’s a pleasure and privilege to celebrate with them. This visit to Indonesia was particularly amazing, because Rabbi Kunin secured the donation of two Torah scrolls from defunct congregations in North America. We delivered one to the community in Jakarta, and a second to the congregation in Timika. In Timika, members of our Jewish community wept openly as the Torah scroll was passed among the adults. It was a powerful reminder of what the Torah can mean to each of us if we are open to it. What a special gift to be a part of their Jewish journey!

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky

To see more pictures and read more aboutthe rabbi in Indonesia, visit:
https://rabbiinindonesia.weebly.com/blog

Viit Rabbi Kunin’s blog at:

http://tokyorabbi.blogspot.com.au  

   

  

   

Rabbi’s Column: Think Globally, Act Locally

Sunday 19 November was designated Mitzvah Day across Australia. Their website http://mitzvahday.org.au/ lists over seventy different projects that took place just about everywhere there were Jews. For the fourth year, Beit Shalom joined in, and it was very special. We put on a beautiful barbecue lunch for clients of the Mercy House of Welcome, a centre in Kilburn providing services to asylum seekers living in the community. I’d like to give a massive shout out to all the Beit Shalom members who helped, as well as to those who made donations to assist with the costs. The children had an especially good time, but it was also lovely to see tired parents get the opportunity to relax for a while as well, as well as some of the single men who enjoyed the delicious food and the beautiful weather.

 

Many of us chatted with our guests at the picnic, and those conversations were eye-opening indeed. I talked with a woman whom I ultimately remembered meeting probably five years ago at an Id al-Fitr celebration hosted by the Mercy House of Welcome. She is a Hazara asylum seeker who is still in limbo years after reaching this country. At the moment, her family is one year into a three-year temporary protection visa. When that visa expires, she’ll have to start the application process all over again, and there is always the possibility her family will be deported back to danger in Afghanistan. Another woman at the picnic was quite late into her pregnancy: the nun who assists asylum seekers as an immigration attorney noted that when her baby is born, it will be classified as an “illegal maritime arrival” even though the birth will take place in Australia. Asylum seekers currently in off-shore detention are very much in the news, but the nearly 30,000 asylum seekers living among us in Australia are nearly invisible.

 

In the same week as our picnic, nearly every Jewish youth movement in Australia, including Adelaide’s JAZY group, united to issue a joint statement condemning the treatment of the refugees on Manus Island. In their statement they wrote, “We bear witness to the human suffering on Manus Island and refuse to be complicit…We call on the rest of the Australian Jewish community to follow suit.” The Moetzah—the Council of Progressive Rabbis—issued a press release urging the Australian government to “act with moral conviction and courage to find a sustainable and humane solution.” As the youth leaders pointed out, one of our central Jewish texts calls on us to pursue justice.

 

So we continue to think globally and act locally. We acted locally in reaching out to asylum seekers and offering them warm hospitality for a day. But we must also continue to think globally and recognise that their continuing state of limbo is part of a larger Australian policy to deny a permanent home to genuine refugees. Let us hope we see a change of heart very soon.

 

 

Netzer Appeal

Our future is dependent on having young people feel like they belong, and Netzer is the very best vehicle that we have in the progressive community to provide young people with an opportunity to belongRabbi Gersh Lazarow

The Board of Beit Shalom endorse the Netzer Appeal and encourage the community to support this important appeal.

 

Click here to donate now ( opens in a new window)