Andrews pledges funds for Jewish precinct

Premier Daniel Andrews visits the proposed site of the Jewish Cultural and Arts Precinct in Elsternwick. Photo: Peter Haskin

PREMIER Daniel Andrews paid a visit to Habonim House, Sholem Aleichem College and the Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre last week to announce State Government funding towards establishing a Jewish Cultural and Arts Precinct.

The Andrews Government made an immediate contribution of $500,000, delivered as part of the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Program; and has promised an additional $1 million if re-elected in November.

While still in the planning phase, the precinct is set to become a hub for Jewish cultural expression through the arts, education, literature, museums, film, theatre, food, festivals and exhibitions.

“We have to celebrate where we are all from, our values and our optimistic view of the future – and that’s exactly what this precinct is about,” said Andrews.

“In every way, our state’s Jewish communities have helped build a stronger, fairer Victoria.

“With this investment, we’ll help make sure the history of those proud contributions is shared and celebrated with every Victorian,” he added.

The proposed precinct will be housed in two new “campuses”: the current Kadimah building at 7 Selwyn Street, and a new building at the corner of Selwyn and Sinclair Streets.

It will include the Kadimah and Sholem Aleichem College, while the Jewish Museum of Australia (JMA) will relocate to the precinct from its current premises in St Kilda. The new precinct will also sit alongside an expanded Jewish Holocaust Centre.

The multi-level building proposed at the current Kadimah site would be the JMA’s new home, while also offering an auditorium that seats approximately 300, and co-working spaces.

Director and CEO of the JMA Rebecca Forgasz told The AJN that the museum’s move to the proposed precinct is a “logical outgrowth” of their mission: to engage people with Jewish culture.

“Jewish life is all about the connection between the past and the present and making tradition relevant to our lives today,” she said.

“The museum is the custodian of a collection of over 20,000 objects that represents through material culture the history of Australian Jews and what it means to be Jewish in Australia. By becoming part of a broader Jewish Cultural and Arts Precinct, we can serve as a resource, an inspiration and a catalyst for the contemporary cultural activity that will take place there.”

The vision for the new museum space is to host an extensive program of lectures, workshops, children and family programs, performances and other cultural events built around exhibition themes.

REBECCA DAVIS