Inside AJHS: Personal Papers of Rabbi Israel Porush

Discovering a sage man: Rabbi Dr Israel Porush OBE

Shirley Linney - Master of Information & Communication Studies
Charles Sturt University

Having an interest in records and archive management, I chose the Australian Jewish Historical Society, AJHS for my Professional Placement as part of my current studies at Charles Sturt University, specialising in Archives and Report Management.

Rabbi Dr Israel Porush OBE
Screenshot: Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, 11, 2 (1991)

During my Work Placement, I was given several boxes containing files of personal papers belonging to Rabbi Dr Israel Porush OBE. My task was to read the documents/letters in each file and register descriptive metadata, which would later become searchable on the AJHS website.  The files contained correspondence to and from politicians, people in the community, the late “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” a publishing house, and manuscripts both hand-written and typed.

The manuscripts contained chapters on a proposed book about the history of The Great Synagogue 1928-1953 (n.d). This was referred to a project on publishing; a continuation of Rabbi Cohen’s “Jubilee History.”  To me, this was like discovering gold, as it documents how the chapters were written in this historical book which, is regarded as one of the best books on the history of The Great Synagogue. Eventually, the book was published under the title ‘The House of Israel: A Study of Sydney Jewry from its foundation (1788) and a history of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, the mother congregation of Australian Jewry, compiled on the occasion of its centenary (1878-1978)’ published 1977. See the next paragraph regarding Rabbi Appel undertaking the publishing of a book on the same subject.

In a letter from Sydney D Einfeld MLA Member for Waverly dated (22/7/1976), concern was expressed around the undertaking of the project. At the same time, Rabbi Apple was writing on the same subject, important as it was. Another letter was from Angus & Robertsons confirming their support in publishing the history of The Great Synagogue.

I was thrilled when I found an official letter from the late “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” (although it was signed by her media official) thanking Rabbi Porush, for the gift of a copy of his book on the history of The Great Synagogue.

What intrigued me the most whilst reading letters written by Rabbi Porush, was how articulate he was and the wisdom and politeness he showed in correspondence with his community. It was clear he was very much a man of care.

Up until now, I had limited knowledge of the AJHS and the work they did, but having read through many letters and documents, and after looking at photographs and the 3D exhibition entitled, Reverberations: A Future for Memory at the Sydney Jewish Museum, I feel I have been enlightened and privileged to have grabbed bits of these historical keepsakes, memories for me to share and treasure.

I am so glad we have information workplaces where Archivists, such as Sabrina, curate and document these important historical and cultural items for future memory.  AJHS digitise many items to future-proof them and facilitate easy access, for the community to search and discover at the click of a keyboard. I am one of those fortunate enough in the community to have discovered the history of this remarkable human, Rabbi Israel Porush.

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