Serving Australia is a permanent exhibition that tells some of the many stories of Jewish men and women who have contributed to Australia through military service, and thus to the country as a whole. The individual stories on display are diverse and tell of the cultural and religious mix that made up the Australian military. Their representation in this exhibition dispels the myth that Australia soldiers were ‘lanky, blonde and bronzed lads’.
Serving Australia also explores why Jews enlisted in the Australian military, and how many enlisted, given many kept their identities hidden for fear of persecution. The number of Jewish soldiers lost in combat during World War I will astound you.
The exhibition looks at the lives and achievements of key Jewish military personalities, including Sir John Monash, Melbourne-born Commander of the Australia Corps and exceptional military tactician.
Some of the more well-known Australian battles are featured in the exhibition, the most famous being the Gallipoli campaign. It was at Gallipoli that Leonard Keysor earned the only Victoria Cross awarded to a Jewish soldier in the Australian military.
Serving Australia draws linkages between the Jewish individuals who served in the Australian military and the NSW Jewish War Memorial building in which the Sydney Jewish Museum is located. The War Memorial was erected in 1923, and officiated on Remembrance Day of that year, to honour the memory of those who served during World War I.