Newsletter of the Adelaide Jewish Museum – November 2001
To friends and members of the Jewish community
As you may know, we recently launched the Adelaide Jewish Museum, and we are in the process of planning for a suitable venue for it that would be accessible to the community as a whole. This may take years to achieve and the first step is to network, make connections and gather information.
This letter is to communicate with you the developments to date with regard to the Museum.
Curators statement of intent
The museum committee, who have long had the dream to establish a Jewish Museum in Adelaide, have appointed me as curator with the task of getting this Museum off the ground. As I am relatively new to Adelaide, having migrated here mid 2000 from South Africa, it may take time for me to make contact with everyone. I am writing to ask you to help me by making contact with me.
Our vision is to create an institution where the heritage of this Jewish community can be documented, displayed and preserved for the present and future generations. Over the years to come, we hope to collect articles of Judaica, to research and interpret them, exhibit, and use the material as a means to learn and teach about our culture.
South Australian Jewry have made a noticeable contribution over the past 150 years to the development of the State. The museum will ultimately trace the history of this community, and bring together the many aspects of its diverse manifestations. It is important that we use the museum concept as an educational tool for outsiders to our community. One only needs to look at the events that are currently occurring in the world to appreciate that education of outsiders is the best weapon against prejudice.
Collecting objects, photographs and documents
A museum without objects is like a library without books, and so we should begin the on-going process of collecting Judaica. It is not my intention to ask anyone to part with objects in use or that have sentimental or other value, nor objects that should be passed on through the family to future generations.
You may wish to donate items when they are no longer needed or bequeath them to the Museum. The acquisitions and donations policy will evaluate their relevance to the Museum.
Objects and documents store meaning and tell stories. Sometimes, objects with no apparent inherent value may have didactic or historical value for our museum. An items value increases if it has a known provenance; if the object belonged to someone important; if the object is in good condition; if a crafted item has obvious aesthetic merit. We would be interested in objects both old and contemporary fitting any of these criteria. We would be interested in original documents such as marriage and birth certificates. Photographs are also a vital resource, as are art works depicting any Jewish ritual, occasion or person, memorabilia, textiles, ritual objects etc.
We will not begin the process of acquiring items until such time as a museum building is located with safe and adequate storage. Nevertheless, I would like to begin by building up a database of what objects there are in the community that could be loaned for possible future exhibitions.
Do not donate any items yet. However, if you wish to participate in the process of gathering information for the Museum, please identify and let me know what items of Judaica exist in your family collection.
Collecting oral histories for the Book of Life
Collecting objects is one aspect of the Museums potential to record our culture. Another is oral history. One of the initial projects the Museum will embark upon will be to collect and document stories and personal experiences of Jews in South Australia. After consulting as widely as possible with members of the community as to the nature of this project, I intend to draft a proposal for the project and attempt to secure financing for it outside of the community. Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated.
Another project is the Book of Life. You may wish to begin writing the story of your families history and arrival in Australia and submit it to us. In this way, every Jewish family in South Australia, including families that have relocated elsewhere, are eligible to be included in this Book of Jewish Life. This Book is envisaged as a compilation of stories about South Australia’s Jewry and will be published on the Internet. Documents and photographs will add value to the story. (We will scan the documents and photographs for you). Tell your story in your own way. Include anecdotes and personal stories that add colour to your experience. As a guideline, a story of approximately 2000 words is recommended. (If you would like to dictate your story to me, let me know).
Before publishing, the stories will be edited with your approval.
It will take time for me to individually approach all members of the community; that is why I am appealing to you to please make contact with me to discuss any issues that you feel may be relevant to our community Museum, or any questions or comments that you have.
Write to: Adelaide Jewish Museum
P O Box 8070
Adelaide SA 5000
Visit me in my office at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce,
25 Peel Street
The ongoing developments of the Adelaide Jewish Museum will be recorded on the website. We hope that you will find a way to contribute to the process of establishing this context to document our culture. This is your museum, and one that we want you to be proud of. Over time, with your assistance, we are sure that you will be.