Gareth Narunsky
Australian Jewish News
March 23, 2023

NSW Labor has pledged $5 million towards an expansion of the Sydney Jewish Museum if elected, Opposition Leader Chris Minns told The AJN this week.

It follows the Perrottet government’s announcement last week of $6.5 million in extra funding – bringing its total commitment to $10 million – towards plans to expand and transform the museum.

“I have looked at the Sydney Jewish Museum’s master plan, a $50 million redevelopment, and I think it’s got enormous merit,” Minns said in a wide-ranging AJN interview on Monday.

“I believe it does amazing work. And we would be more than happy to sit down with the trustees of the museum about future potential expansion.”

Minns recalled visiting the museum as a high school student.

“It had a massive impact on me and when I went back as a guest about three months ago, I took my two oldest boys along as well, just so they could see it firsthand,” he said.

Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) president Greg Shand said the recent upsurge in antisemitism “only serves to highlight the importance of the museum seeking to double its impact by doubling the number that visit annually”.

“We are incredibly grateful for Labor’s commitment, which will go a long way in making this a reality,” he said.

The SJM aims to create two centres in one precinct – a Sydney Holocaust Museum to share the history and testimonies of survivors and a Centre for Contemporary Jewish Life, to share the community’s culture, traditions and contributions to Australia.

SJM CEO Kevin Sumption said an expanded museum in 2026 will see “new, vibrant programming that celebrates Jewish life in Australia and works harder towards combating racism and antisemitism”.

“The new museum precinct will put a new focus on the celebration and demystification of Jewish life and culture, and will employ new technologies to continue to share the important lessons of the museum’s founding Holocaust survivors around inclusion and respect,” Sumption said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) CEO Darren Bark said the JBD was pleased to arrange the visit to the museum for Minns and his family late last year.

“During that visit, we heard first-hand the incredible life story of Holocaust survivor Joe Symon, and about the dangers of racism and hate speech. It was a deeply emotional visit and one that will have a long-lasting and meaningful impact for years to come,” Bark said.

JBD president David Ossip added, “Our community is immensely grateful for bipartisan support to enhance and expand the Sydney Jewish Museum which will facilitate greater awareness and education about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“The board acknowledges and thanks the NSW government and the NSW Labor Party for their respective commitments to keeping survivors’ memories alive and ensuring the Shoah is not forgotten, and never repeated.”