Over two hundred members of the Jewish community from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, and Netanya, Israel gathered in Broken Hill to help celebrate the 100th. year anniversary since the laying of the synagogue's foundation stone.
The synagogue was filled to capacity for the first Shabbat service held in almost fifty years.
Celebrations began with an evening service conducted by Richard Lew, his wife Ruth is a descendant of the well-known Broken Hill Griff family.
Saturday ceremony opened with a welcome to country and traditional smoking ceremony to "send away any evil spirits", before musician Anthony Haywood performed on the didgeridoo.
The BH Community Voices sang several traditional Jewish songs such as Heiveinu shalom aleichem and Hava Naglia, which they had practiced for months on end. The songs drew thunderous applause, with many people clapping and singing along to the religious songs.
Visitors joined locals in the re-enactment of the foundation stone ceremony. Jewish visitors played the roles of Abraham Rosenberg, Reverend Zalel Mandelbaum and Solomon Saunders, who were all major Jewish figures in the city at the time.
Descendants of the Krantz and Dryen families were invited to place corn on the foundation stone as an emblem of plenty and abundance, before pouring wine on the stone (as an emblem of joy and gladness), salt (preservation) and oil (peace and unanimity).
Howard Goldberg of Melbourne, who played Rev. Zalel Mandelbaum, read two psalms in Hebrew at the conclusion of the re-creation.
Howard Goldenberg a Broken Hill resident, conducted the Saturday morning service with Broken Hill born Melbourne Professor Leon Mann delivering the sermon and Ruth Lew reading the Prayer for Israel. Professor Suzanne Rutland – whose son is Captain Benjamin Rutland read the prayer for the IDF and Margaret Price of the Broken Hill Historical Society read the prayer for the Commonwealth of Australia.
Professor Colin Tatz of Sydney launched Jews of the Outback: The Centenary of the Broken Hill Synagogue 1910-2010, a book co-edited by Sydney historian Professor Suzanne Rutland, Melbourne academic Professor Leon Mann and Broken Hill Historical Society volunteer Margaret Price.
Celebrations were carried through to Saturday afternoon with an exhibition held at the synagogue prepared by Margaret Price and Professor Rutland, assisted by Bruce Tindall of the Broken Hill Art Gallery. The exhibition was funded through a grant from the Royal Australian Historical Society.