THE phrase ‘as solid as a Goulburn Jew’ was a popular one from the 1840s.
The town’s Jewish population was 45, the third largest in NSW, according to Steve Tazewell’s ‘Grand Goulburn.’ While it’s unclear what drew so many to this area, they quickly immersed themselves in business. Solomon Moses, an English Jew, leased the Policeman’s Arms where Riversdale now stands and became the licensee in 1836. In 1841 he built the Royal Hotel in the new township, which became a social hub for at least the next century.
Others like Samuel Benjamin and Elias Moses operated a well-known general store on the corner of Auburn and Verner Streets. Nathan Mandelson bought a hotel on the corner of Sloane and Clinton Streets which even through changed uses has always been known as Mandelson’s.
In 1837 Samuel Davis and Isaac Levy established the Australian Stores.
Members of the Jewish community were gold buyers, jewellery makers, traders and operators of boiling down works.
But by the 1880s, a decade of boom, the majority had left Goulburn.
Yet reminders of their influential presence remain.
Some are buried at the now inactive Jewish Cemetery in Long St. Tazewell states that 22 people were buried there while a cairn on site lists 20 burials.
The cemetery was used from 1844 to 1943 and included a stone caretaker’s cottage, demolished in the 1940s, according to Tazewell.
The cemetery fell into disrepair for many years but was restored at Mr Tazewell’s instigation.
Former Goulburn City Mayor Tony Lamarra reconsecrated the cemetery in 1987.
The work included a cairn built from stone in the caretaker’s cottage, with a plaque listing the burials.
A large Jewish contingent and council officials attended the day, presided by Rabbi Apple.
Another reminder of the community’s presence is a summer house built by NC Phillips in the shape of a ship’s stern circa 1850 on the Lansdowne estate. Later owners, the Emmanuel family, used it as a Jewish synagogue.