Rose Shappere – Fearless nurse, Jewish adventuress

Ballarat-born Rose Shappere, had a serious taste for adventure. The young Jewish nurse resigned her position at Adelaide Hospital, made her way to South farica and attached herself first to a Boer commando unit, and then to the British volunteers, travelling alone throughout the country by rail and steamer to reach the front lines at Ladysmith.
Her persistence paid off, and whilst she saw many nurses being turned away by the British authorities, she was determined to serve and her efforts to do so were rewarded with success.

Jewish Divorce in the colony

As far back as 1831, the London Beit Din was confronted with issues surrounding granting divorces, when one or other of the parties had been transported to Australia, which did not have a formal Jewish legal body. The first Beit Din, or religious Jewish court, was convened in Australia in 1864, for the sole purpose of effecting a divorce and arranging a gett, for a Jewish couple that wished to legally separate.

1852 Ballarat and the arrival of Abraham Abrahamsohn

The story of a very talented German who ventured to Australia via the US, having practiced as a traveling mohel for the San Francisco Jewish community and occasional baked matzoh. On hearing about the discovery of gold in Victoria, he packed his bags, booked his passage to Sydney and treked overland to the Victorian goldfields.

Striking Gold in Australia

When gold was discovered in New South Wales in 1851 by Edward Hargreaves, the area near Bathurst was actually given a Hebrew name – ‘’Ophir’’ – a name and place from the bible famous for its gold and wealth. Victoria’s gold rush began in 1851 and, over the next ten years, close to 600,000 people flowed into the region in search of their fortune. Many of these adventurers were Jewish.

Goldfields and Immigration

The Jewish Ladies’ Benevolent Loan and Visiting Society formed a committee that eventually became the Jewish Emigration Society. Donations came in, and in June of 1853, an advertisement was printed announcing the Society’s intention of sending 20 single Jewish female emigrants to Australia. What happened next was quite unexpected!