Bert Levy Bio note #3

Bert’s family moved to Melbourne in 1875. Bert was 4. In his own words again in the ‘Lone Hand’ Magazine in 1912 he described his school days.

Interesting, two of Bert’s brothers became successful bookmakers on the Kalgoorlie gold fields in the early 1900s. (I’ll cover them later in the blog)
Here is Bert’s headmaster Joel Fredman. His biography states he attended the Melbourne Hebrew School, behind the Bourke Street synagogue. He was Dux of school 1875 and passed matriculation and public service exams 1876. He became a pupil teacher, teacher (1878) then headmaster (1883 – 1886). Bert would have been 12-15 years of age when Joel Fredman was headmaster.
A photo from the State Library of Victoria shows the beautiful Bourke Street Synagogue at 472 Bourke Street, which first was erected in 1847, with a seating capacity of 100 and was enlarged and completed in 1854/55. Charles Webb was the architect. The fire station and tower can be seen in background which was in Little Bourke Street next to the Hebrew School. The Synagogue was on the north east corner of Bourke Street between Queen and William Streets. Next door was St. Patrick’s Hall. Both buildings are gone with the Synagogue demolished in 1929. The Oddfellow’s Hall mentioned by Bert was a grand building on the corner of Victoria and Russell streets and as expected is no longer with us.
Daniel Bowen, a Melbourne blogger’s photo shows there still some evidence the Synagogue on Bourke street existed. He quotes, ‘In 1868 the name of Synagogue Lane was changed to Little Queen Street because the former name ‘has unfortunately acquired a notoriety’. A quote in the 1869 Colonial Monthly, describes the area:
The blackest sheep of all the flock make their home here. It is dangerous to pass through the place in daylight, unattended, and open robberies have been committed at noonday’. N.B, no association between the Jewish community of Melbourne at the time and the referenced ‘black sheep’ fraternity is implied. I have a feeling my forebears hanging out at St. Patrick’s hall were probably more likely suspects. This name change took place before Bert was born and dozen years before he attended the school, so he is off the hook, for the moment.

One response to “Bert Levy Bio note #3”

  1. Howard Nathan avatar
    Howard Nathan

    there are many articles published in the AJHS Journal about the Russell St synagogue, which still stands and was in my youth a childrens playground area


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