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Safe Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia


Chaplaincy and 'spiritual welfare'

Rabbi Raymond Apple, currently spiritual leader of Sydney's Great Synagogue and Senior Jewish Chaplain to Australia's Armed Forces since 1988, has analysed the 'paradox' of military chaplaincy as the attempt to balance armed power with divine spirit:

War is sometimes necessary; defence preparedness is essential to a nation; and a defence force needs a religious advisory arm to watch over the morality of its policies and the morale of its troops.72

Jewish chaplains have been attached to the Australian Army since 1908 and the appointment to the Commonwealth Military Forces of Rev (later Rabbi) Jacob Danglow of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation.

Sydney's Rabbi Francis Lyon Cohen, who had the distinction of being the first Jewish chaplain appointed by the British Military Forces (in 1892), involved himself similarly with the Australian national defence following his arrival in NSW in 1905, and served as chaplain from 1909 until his death in 1934. Cohen inaugurated an annual military service at the Great Synagogue during the festival of Chanukkah in 1907, was outspoken in favour of conscription during World War I because he saw support of the war effort as 'an act of religious virtue', and once exhorted the community's youth:

May they never forget that they are called upon to uphold not only their country's political independence, but still more her moral ideals of liberty and equal opportunity.73

On another occasion, Cohen declared unequivocally: 'We British Jews... who love the privilege of fully serving the Empire over which this flag waves, can none of us be too zealous, too devoted in her service'.74

Other clergy who have emulated the example of Danglow and Cohen, both in and out of wartime, include Rev Solomon Marks Solomon of Melbourne (who, by virtue of age and length of service, was officially senior Hebrew chaplain in Victoria from 1910 until his death), Rabbi Leib Isack Falk (a World War I veteran and long-serving assistant minister at the Great Synagogue, who was a chaplain with the Commonwealth forces from 1935), Rabbi Ephraim Moses Levy (Sydney), Rabbi Harry Freedman (Melbourne), Rev Isaac Amber Bernstein (Adelaide), Rev Nathan Levine and Rev Joseph Wolman (Brisbane) and, more recently, Rabbis Chaim Gutnick, John Levi, Edward Belfer and Jeffrey Kamins. No Jew has yet held a chaplaincy with the RAN and, to date, only one chaplain, Rabbi Dr Shalom Coleman of Perth, has been attached to the RAAF.

A number of Jewish clergymen saw active army service overseas during the two World Wars, most notably Rabbi David Freedman of Perth, who was at Gallipoli and the Mediterranean and French theatres of war, and Danglow, who succeeded Freedman in France in 1918 and also completed several tours of duty in the Pacific and New Guinea in the 1940s. Rabbi Louis Rubin-Zacks, of Adelaide and Perth, ministered to American and Australian troops in the jungles of New Guinea and Rabbi Lazarus M Goldman, of Melbourne, spent six years in the Middle East, South Pacific, North Africa, Northern Territory and New Guinea.

Given the courtesy rank of Colonel, Rabbi Danglow held office as Senior Jewish chaplain of the Commonwealth from 1942 until his death in 1962. His achievements in that capacity included the compilation of a field service in English as an aid to Christian chaplains who might be called upon to conduct Jewish funerals and an official visit in 1948 to study the morale of occupying troops in Japan. Remembered with considerable affection by Jewish ex-servicemen, Danglow was awarded both the OBE and CMG for his military contributions. He was succeeded in office by Rabbi Dr Alfred Fabian and, from 1988, by Rabbi Apple.75

A number of National Archives records have been identified which deal with aspects of the Jewish military chaplaincy and matters of Jewish religious observance in wartime. These include:

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'A', 'B', 'D' OR 'E' PREFIX, 1913–17
Melbourne
This was the main correspondence series of the Department of Defence until August 1914.
Series: A2023
Quantity: 8.1 metres
Recorded by: 1913–1917: Department of Defence (I) (CA 6)
[Request for appointment of Chaplain General to Jewish denomination], 1913–14 A2023, A82/1/76
AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCES, ADMINISTRATIVE HEADQUARTERS REGISTRY, 'A' (ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S BRANCH) FILES, 1916–20
Australian War Memorial (AWM)
The series includes files on personnel-related matters.
Series: AWM10
Quantity: 2.2 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1920: Department of Defence (I) (CA 6)
Report on Chaplain D I Freedman's visit to Jewish troops of AIF in UK (United Kingdom), 1917–18 AWM10, 4306/4/9
AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE DEPOTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM HEADQUARTERS (SALISBURY PLAIN), CENTRAL REGISTRY FILES, OFFICERS' RECORDS, 1916–20
Australian War Memorial (AWM)
Series: AWM15
Quantity: 37 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1920: Department of Defence (CA 6)
Rev Rabbi D I Freedman; Mr H Boas, 1917 AWM15, 1135
WRITTEN RECORDS 1914–18 WAR, 1914–93
Australian War Memorial
Series: AWM25
Quantity: 145 metres
Recorded by: 1918–1920: Department of Defence (I) (CA 6)
Casualty sheets and hospital reports from Chaplain Danglow (Jewish chaplain), 1918 and January 1919 (Part 1 of 2), 1918–19 AWM25, 171/11 part 1
[Spiritual welfare] Australian Jewish troops serving with AIF Forces, Sept 1919, 1919 AWM25, 893/1
[Spiritual welfare] Notes concerning Jewish troops stationed in Cairo. Arrangements for celebrating 'The Feast of Passover' by members of the Jewish faith. Correspondence regarding Jewish sick and wounded, 1914–18 AWM25, 893/3
RECORDS ARRANGED ACCORDING TO AWM LIBRARY SUBJECT CLASSIFICATION, 1927–70
Australian War Memorial (AWM)
Series: AWM27
Quantity: 17.8 metres
Recorded by: 1927–1970: Australian War Memorial (CA 616)
[Religions and War] Circular Farewell Letter from Rabbi J Danglow to AIF Troops (May 1919), 1919 AWM27, 602/1
INTELLIGENCE SECTION RECORDS 1914–23
Melbourne
Series: MP16/1
Quantity: 13.68 metres
Recorded by: 1914–1923: Intelligence Section, General Staff, 3rd Military District (CA 1841)
Rev S M Solomon, 1915
This file contains paperwork about an investigation into allegations that Solomon, Senior Jewish chaplain to the Commonwealth forces, 1910–1941, had made subversive statements about the strength of Germany and the Empire's capacity to beat the 'Hun'. The investigation was dropped.
MP16/1, 1915/3/586
ARMY GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1939–42
Melbourne
Series: MP508/1
Quantity: 0.72 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1942: Department of the Army, Central Office (CA 36)
Department of the Army [chaplains] – [Approval sought for appointment Jewish chaplain], 1942 MP508/1, 56/701/97
WRITTEN RECORDS 1939–45 WAR, 1951–93
Australian War Memorial (AWM)
Series: AWM54
Quantity: 213.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–1993: Australian War Memorial (CA 616)
[Leave – Recreation:] Leave Policy 1942–1944 (Includes: personnel of Special units, Jewish Holy Days, Passover for Hebrew Personnel), 1942–44 AWM54, 449/4/4
CORRESPONDENCE 1912–64
Sydney
The series consists of correspondence regarding administration, function and policy of Eastern Command.
Series: SP459/1
Quantity: 40.68 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1942: Headquarters Eastern Command (I), AMF (CA 1876)
Jewish Holy Days (Box 174), 1941 SP459/1, 496/1/339
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1953–
Canberra
The series consists of files which deal with character checks, inquiries into specified persons, and matters of general security.
Series: A1533
Quantity: 160.58 metres
Recorded by: 1953–1960: Commonwealth Investigation Service, Central Office (CA 650)
Item: [Rev E M Levy – Other chaplains Jewish denomination], 1933–35
This file contains formal paperwork about Levy's chaplaincy as well as correspondence about Rabbi F L Cohen continuing as Senior Jewish chaplain in NSW. Cohen and Levy led the Sydney Hebrew Congregation, at the Great Synagogue, in the 1930s.
B1535, 731/3/80

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

72 Rutland, Edge of the Diaspora, p.311.

73 ibid., p.311-2.

74 Rodney Gouttman, "First Principles: H.V. Evatt and the Jewish homeland", in Jews in the Sixth Continent, p.265-6; Rutland, ibid., p.313-6.

75 Rutland, ibid., p.313-6.; Gouttman, ibid., p.262.


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Chapter 7
The Armed Services