The Maccabean Hall:
Memories of Jack Meister’s second home

For Jack Meister OAM and many of the Holocaust survivor refugees who made new lives in Sydney, the building where the Sydney Jewish Museum now stands is a very important space.

Many years before it held our Museum, it was the Maccabean Hall: a Jewish community centre, crucial to rehabilitating and integrating Holocaust survivor refugees in the late 1940s and early 1950s. 

Arriving without friends and families, Jack and many other survivors built their communities in “the Macc”, which saw many dances, family events, and meet-cutes.

“We came dancing every Sunday night. It gave me a start to my life,” Jack reflects. 

It was within these halls that Jack met his future wife, Nita – and they married in the very space they met. 

Jack’s wedding in the Maccabean Hall during the early 1950s. SJM collection.

70 years later, Jack returns to the Museum weekly, to the same space where he used to go dancing, where met his wife, where got married, and where he was first able to share his story of surviving the Holocaust.

Jack reflects: “I have very happy memories of this building. It’s where I first came to dance. It’s where I got married. It’s also the place where I was able to share my story for the first time. Having the chance to tell people about what I survived, and what I went through all my life has helped me a lot.”

We can see why he refers to the building as his “second home”.

Image of Jack in the Museum, 2022.

With our building celebrating 100 years on 11 November, we reflect on the importance of this space to Sydney’s Jewish community, and to the history of Sydney.

From November 1, a new exhibit celebrating 100 years of the Maccabean Hall will be coming to the Museum’s ground floor. Take a journey through time with memories from a century of our building, as we celebrate the vibrancy of Jewish history and culture in Sydney. 

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