Last weekend [18 February 2017], I had the great pleasure of attending a Shabbat service at the historic Ballarat Synagogue. The synagogue, which is more than 150 years old, has been classified by the National Trust as a historic building. The building itself is well preserved.
I was amused to find that the Prayer for the Royal Family, inscribed next to the Ark, has not been updated since Queen Victoria was on the throne. I wondered if there are other synagogues in Australia continuing to honour Queen Victoria as the monarch.
The synagogue used to only conduct services over the high holydays and when groups visited, but now holds services on a monthly basis and for all the chagim, due to the efforts of chazan Max Lasky and the hard-working committee, led by president John Abraham. During my visit, I met a small but vibrant congregation. I shared with those present my personal link with the synagogue, through Rev Goldreich, who served as minister from 1868 to 1905. Rev Goldreich married a granddaughter of my convict ancestor, Emanuel “Money” Moses.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to anyone with a family link to Ballarat, or who wishes to experience a glimpse of Jewish life in the former central Victorian goldfields.