Bondi View

On the record: Waverley’s migrant history

Waverley Councillor Leon Goltsman / Photo: Twitter

Waverley Council will record the historical experiences of Jewish immigrants in Waverley after World War II.

The initiative will document the stories of Jewish migrants and their descendants who initially settled in Waverley after their arrival in Sydney.

Councillor Leon Goltsman said the initiative was developed to acknowledge the struggles of post-war Jewish families and their migration to Australia.

“With each generation, as we progress … that story is lost, especially post-war,” he said.

Mr Goltsman, Chair of the Waverley Multiadvisory Committee, said the program will help raise awareness of multicultural issues by reaching out to school children and create a connection between the younger and older generations.

Council will engage volunteers from local schools such as Rose Bay Secondary School and, if the program is successful, will begin the same process for researching other post-war groups which initially settled in Waverley.

“The idea is not to focus on the Holocaust,” Mr Goltsman said. “What we want to do is record the history, the forgotten gap – these are the people who have been forgotten but mean so much.”

Jewish migrants make up 17 per cent of Waverley’s population, with the concentration of Jewish residents higher than any other municipality in NSW.

Bondi Beach was considered a working-class suburb at the turn of the twentieth century but following World War II, the eastern suburbs became home for Jewish migrants from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany.

The largest influx of Jewish immigrants arrived in Sydney between 1946 and 1961, and the vast majority were Holocaust survivors.

According to a Waverley Council spokesperson, over 17,000 Jews arrived from Europe and Shanghai between 1946 and 1954.

In the 1970’s and ‘80s Waverley saw a surge of Russian Jewish immigrants and Russian is now the second-most common language spoken in Waverley.

Councillor Dominic Wy Kanak proposed the initiative to be expanded to acknowledge cultural connections between the Aboriginal and Jewish communities, a move that was welcomed by councillors Leon Goltsman and Miriam Guttman-Jones.

“Council has been steadily gathering the multicultural history of our local government area by documenting conversations with elders of all backgrounds in Waverley,” Mr Wy Kanak said.

“It is important to record the stories of all our community elders before it is lost with their sad passing.”

Mr Wy Kanak hopes the research will help uncover further links between the Aboriginal and Jewish communities in Waverley.

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