The History of the Jews in New Zealand
Chapter XXX — Social Relationships
At the same time as New Zealand Jewry strove with all its might and main to accomplish a prophetic dream of two thousand years' standing, it by no means neglected its religious qualities of compassion in accepting the responsibility and burden of giving immediate and substantial aid to those in need and in dire distress.
The Kishineff pogroms and other Russian atrocities early in the century created intense indignation within the communities, which spontaneously responded to the call for financial assistance. Indignation and protests did not help, for the persecutions increased with monotonous regularity. Year by year, the sickening reports of the despair and suffering of the Jewries in the Ukraine, in Poland and in Russia, flowed into New Zealand. Up to and throughout the First World War, and continually up to the Second World War, desperate appeals for immediate assistance came from the groaning, oppressed masses of Eastern Europe. Almost annually, the New Zealand Jews, with great self-sacrifice, sent large sums of money to try to alleviate, even if only by a very minute fraction, the unhappy lot of their downtrodden brethren. They grew suspicious, however, of the appeal made by S. Poliakoff for a Reconstruction Campaign for Russian Jewry. They feared the Soviet would confiscate the funds. In addition, during the First World War, the communities sent a large sum for the relief of Belgian Jewish refugees in England, and for the Jewish Prisoners of War Fund.
A proposal to bring out Ukrainian orphans, a suggestion strongly supported by Sir Michael Myers, in 1922, did not succeed because of the restrictions placed upon the immigration of orphans into New Zealand by the Government and the lack of sponsors who would accept individual responsibility for their maintenance, a compulsory governmental provision. From about 1930, Jewish philanthropic authorities abroad tried to raise the standards of the masses in the Ukraine and Poland by scientific means, especially in relation to health and vocational training, through the organizations known as O.R.T. and O.Z.E. They sent out their own emissaries to New Zealand, amongst the more prominent being Dr S. Y. Jacobi, Dr M. Laserson, Dr Hans Klee and Elsley Zeitlin. They all received a ready response from the New Zealanders. Private institutions from Europe also made calls upon the communities. Even an organization from rich America heard about their generosity and appealed for funds through a rabbinical emissary.page 213
The rising tide of Nazism, with its attendant cruelties, brought new problems and additional burdens to Jews throughout the world. New Zealand Jewry did not fail to bear its share of the responsibility. From 1933 onwards, it responded continually to the many calls which came from the General Relief Fund. German refugees began to arrive in the country from about 1936, and everything possible was done by the various Welcome Committees to make them happy and to re-settle them comfortably. The branches of the New Zealand Jewish Welfare Society supported them until they found work and paid for the upkeep and fees of a number of professional men, mostly doctors and dentists, who were required by regulation to pass certain examinations in subjects in the New Zealand university colleges " before they could practise in the country. The Jewish communities were prepared to accept more migrants and the responsibility for their maintenance, but restrictive measures by the New Zealand Government prior to the outbreak of war checked any great flow of immigration from Germany and Austria. The commencement of hostilities stopped it altogether, except for a trickle which had escaped through Soviet Russia and Japan.
In the third year of the war, news of the horrible extent of the greatest crime ever committed in human history seeped through to New Zealand. Expressions of indignation and horror were vehemently made by all denominations. The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Peter Fraser, the Leader of the Opposition, the Mayor of Wellington, the Bishop of Wellington, representatives of the Cabinet and Clergy, at a mammoth protest demonstration held in the capital city, declared their horror-struck fears concerning the unbelievable degradations to which the cruel Germans had descended. As relief came to the small remnant of Jews who remained in the European concentration camps, New Zealand Jewry combined in contributing to the United Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad in an attempt to rehabilitate the bitter sufferers who had been saved. A Search Bureau for Missing Relatives confirmed the terrifying degree of the German crime. When Dr Maurice Perlzweig came to New Zealand for short visits on behalf of the World Jewish Congress, an organization striving to improve the political situation of Jews outside Israel, the country's politicians received him attentively, and many in the communities supported his views.
The heavy demands made upon the charitable sentiments of the Jewish communities in no way affected their generosity towards local and national philanthropic institutions. On the contrary, it seemed to make them more aware of the need for accepting benevolent civic responsibility. Wherever Jews congregated, they served on hospital committees and charitable organizations. V. S. Jacobs, an eminent Dunedin sportsman, received the O.B.E. for his work amongst crippled children. A relative, John Jacobs, a Deputy Town Clerk of Dunedin, was secretary of the Otago Hospital Board page 214 for thirty-nine years. Another recipient of the O.B.E., Samuel Saltzman, earned his reputation as a philanthropist. He built the Saltzman T. B. Ward at Greymouth, an Administration Block at Waipiata Sanatorium, the Saltzman Theatre at the Dunedin Hospital, the Saltzman Wing at the Methodist Mission Home at Company Bay, the Saltzman Wing at the Balclutha T.B. Hospital, a Children's Home at Oamaru and a whole building for the St John Ambulance at Dunedin. The St John Ambulance organization presented him with one of the only two Donat medals ever presented in the southern hemisphere.
For her charitable work, Mrs J. I. Goldsmith received the M.B.E. She also acted as Chairman of the Women Justices' Association. Her husband, Joseph Isaac Goldsmith, associated with innumerable communal activities, acted as Chairman of the Disabled Soldiers' Re-establishment League, the Otaki Health Camp, the Citizens' Unemployed Committee, during the depression, and helped to found the "Smith Family". Chess enthusiasts themselves, Mr and Mrs Goldsmith donated the Goldsmith Chess Trophy in memory of their son Lionel M. Goldsmith, killed in air operations over Europe.
Sir Truby King received an enormous amount of help from a number of Jews in furthering the adoption of the Plunket method of child care and in making it known throughout the world. Mrs D. E. Theomin of Dunedin sponsored the scheme and accepted the position of the first Treasurer of the Plunket Society. Wolf Harris donated the first Karitane Hospital for Dunedin, and Sir Arthur H. Myers presented a Karitane Hospital for Auckland. The movement received ardent support from Mrs D. L. Nathan.
Although the New Zealand Jewish communities readily assisted Israel both morally and materially and always supported any appeal which came from abroad, they remained essentially English in composition and in their associations. Their compassion and benevolence extended widely to all Jewries; their loyalties and historical ties bound them strongly to Britain and naturally New Zealand itself. Though the Anglo-Jewish Association did absolutely nothing in New Zealand, some of the communities continued paying their contributions to the English organization. When the more vigorous Board of Deputies of British Jews assumed the leadership of the Jews in England and agreed to representation from colonial communities, all the New Zealand congregations took advantage of the invitation.
To strengthen the ties between the English and the colonial Jews, the dynamic, active Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Dr Joseph H. Hertz, came out to New Zealand in 1921, accompanied by Albert M. Woolf, the Vice-President of the United Synagogue, as part of his pastoral tour of the Jewish communities of the British overseas dominions. Enthusiastically received wherever he went, his lectures, especially the one on "The Bible as a Book", page 215 deeply impressed his Jewish and Gentile audiences. The New Zealand Herald wrote: "I have been listening to a sermon, and the Chief Rabbi has confirmed me in my opinion that to be a Jew is a thing in which a man may well take pride. ... It is an honest religion which exalts conduct." On his tour, he appealed for funds to establish a Jewish War Memorial for British and Dominion Jewish soldiers killed in the First World War. The form of the Memorial was to be a permanent fund for assisting educational institutions. New Zealand Jewry donated over £12,000 towards the cause. Impressed with the effect of the Chief Rabbi's visit, a leading Auckland citizen wrote: "It has had a most inspiring effect on the Jewish community. I would strongly urge that this pastoral tour should be repeated at stated intervals of not more than seven years." New Zealand also impressed the Chief Rabbi. "Nowhere in the world," he stated, "have Jews, in proportion to their number, attained to such prominence. This is due to the fact that they are largely descendants of old, mostly English, settlers who were among the pioneers of Australia and New Zealand. They have been fortunate in their spiritual guides."
Following up the appeal for the Jewish War Memorial, Sir Robert Waley Cohen, the President of the United Synagogue in London and the recognized lay leader of English Jewry, when he visited New Zealand on private business as managing director of the Shell Oil Company, lectured on the purpose of the Memorial and the problems with which British Jewry was faced. His visit of several months, at the close of 1924, proved of considerable value to the communities.
New Zealand deeply respected the office of the Chief Rabbi, but he made no further monetary demands of them except in the Second World War, when he asked for donations for the Chief Rabbi's Emergency Fund to buy mobile synagogues for personnel serving in the forces. He also urged the rebuilding of the Great Synagogue, London, destroyed in a bombing raid. His death soon after the war evoked deep expressions of regret.
His successor, Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie, followed in the footsteps of his predecessor by paying a pastoral visit to New Zealand in 1952. It was not his first visit to the country. He had come earlier as a representative for a Zionist cause from Australia, where he had served for many years as the minister of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation. When he came on his pastoral visit, he came as a guest of the Government, which tendered him a State reception. He also lectured to large audiences on "The Bible" and on "Religion in the Modern World". His visit added to the popularity which he widely enjoyed.
In their association with the British Commonwealth, the Jews of New Zealand displayed their deep loyalty and preparedness for sacrifice. New Zealand sent a very small contingent to South Africa to fight in the Boer page 216 War. Jews served amongst them. They included Joseph Isaac Goldsmith, who acts as the Dominion President of the South African War Veterans' Association, and Albert M. Samuels, who represented Ohinemuri as a member of the House of Representatives from 1925 to 1928 and Thames from 1928 to 1935. Rabbi S. A. Goldstein of Auckland, as Honorary Secretary of the Boer War Patriotic Fund, boosted the morale of the country. The New Zealand Jews have a proud record of service both in the First and Second World Wars, as is evidenced by the large list of names on the honour rolls affixed to the walls of the synagogues of the various congregations. Practically every eligible able-bodied man volunteered for the forces.
In the First World War, Arthur Melziner Myers, elected to the Auckland East seat in the House of Representatives in 1910, was promoted to Minister for Customs, Munitions and Supplies in the National Government. He had previously served as Minister for Finance, Railways and Defence in the Mackenzie Ministry. In the army, he held the rank of colonel in command of the Motor Service Corps. His was the only munitions department in the British Commonwealth which came through the war with a clean record and no scandal. As a young man, he had entered his uncle's office, Ehrenfried and Company, at Thames. Later he completed the amalgamation of the company with Brown, Campbell and Company, to become its managing director. A progressive man, he contracted the building of the Auckland Electric Tramways and reduced fares from 3d. to 1d. a section. Elected Mayor of Auckland in 1905, he gave an honorarium to subsidize bands to play in the public parks. When he completed his term of office in 1909, he laid the foundation-stone of the new Town Hall, to which he donated the clock. Ten thousand people gathered in Albert Park to witness a presentation given to him on behalf of the City. He in turn presented the City, at a cost of £20,000, with eight acres of land, known as Myers Park, on which he built a free kindergarten and school for backward children. He also donated £5000 towards a Karitane Hospital and gave many pictures to the Auckland Art Gallery. At Thames, he improved many of its amenities and assisted in establishing its Technical School. Leaving for London in 1921 to take up a directorship in the National Bank of New Zealand, he received a knighthood three years later for his services to his homeland. Sir Arthur M. Myers died in 1924.
Bertram Joseph Jacobs distinguished himself in the First World War as President of the Palmerston North Patriotic Society, as President of the Palmerston North Returned Servicemen's Association, and later as Dominion President of the N.Z.R.S.A. Amongst a number who received awards during the war, Miss M. Mendelssohn received her decoration for work as a masseuse. The Jewish communities continued their patriotic work in the Second World War, mainly through the Union of Jewish Women, which as an estab- page 217 lished institution, was able to carry out its patriotic activities in an organized fashion. They were pleased to hear the warm tribute which the Prime Minister paid to the Palestinian troops who had fought in Greece and Crete, and whom he had met on a visit to the Middle East. As a patriotic gesture, Leon Cohen gave an ambulance to the New Zealand Government. Joseph Abel was awarded the M.B.E. for his public services, especially in connection with the Returned Servicemen's Association and the New Zealand Red Cross, of which he was appointed first Dominion Chairman. He also acted as Chairman of the Red Cross in the Hawkes Bay earthquake disaster in which a number of Jews were amongst those killed. His activities included organizing the Million Pound Patriotic Appeal in 1941 and the Sick and Wounded Appeal a year previously. Patriotic workers also helped to entertain the Jewish members of the American Marine Corps when the Corps was serving in New Zealand. Rabbi S. Katz took particular care of the Americans, and when he died they erected a memorial for him in the foyer of the Wellington Synagogue. In January 1940, Rabbi A. Astor of Auckland was commissioned as Senior Jewish Chaplain to the New Zealand Forces. In 1942 he was appointed as the official representative of the National Jewish Welfare Board of America. His spiritual ministrations to thousands of American Jewish servicemen included regular attendance at Army and Navy hospitals in the Auckland area. The New Zealanders had no Jewish chaplain who served abroad, but Rabbi L. M. Goldman of the Australian Imperial Forces took it upon himself to look after the interests and spiritual welfare of the men who served in the Middle East and in the Pacific area.
Many of the refugees who came to New Zealand prior to the war desired to join the forces, and through the Zionist organization unanimously resolved to send a letter to the Minister for Defence requesting that all Jewish aliens be liable for military service on the same basis as New Zealand citizens. The Minister for National Defence replied that Jewish aliens could not be compelled to join the armed forces, although every encouragement would be given to Allied, neutral, and, in some cases, enemy aliens, to render voluntary service in the armed forces of New Zealand. Some enemy aliens did manage to fight in the front line overseas as members of the New Zealand Army.
After the war many of the soldiers, apart from joining their own local branches of ex-servicemen's clubs, formed a Jewish Ex-Servicemen's Association to revive the comradeship they had enjoyed whilst abroad. Some took a keen interest in their local branches. Maurice Myers, one of a number of Jewish men who had been decorated, and a son of the Chief Justice, Sir Michael Myers, presided over the Returned Servicemen's Association of Otago. He received the Legion of Merit from the Americans.
The intensity of loyalty to their country shown by the Jews of New page 218 Zealand did not manifest itself only in times of war. It was also most pronounced in times of peace. In every sphere of public and civic life they contributed willingly of their service and ability for the welfare of the country and its common weal. Besides Sir Arthur M. Myers and Albert M. Samuels, F. E. Baume and F. Pirani also served as members of the House of Representatives. Auckland City elected F. E. Baume in 1902 as a Liberal, as did Auckland East in 1905. He spoke frequently in debates and fearlessly championed Jewish causes. Once, when the Official Assignee made a Jewish witness take an oath on protest without a hat, Baume expostulated in Parliament and quoted the correct practice from the book, New Zealand Justices of the Peace, which states, "Jews are sworn on the Five Books of Moses with their heads covered." Some of the members doubted the Official Assignee's excuse that he did not know the witness belonged to the Jewish faith. On Baume's sudden death in 1910, his wife, born in America and interested in many educational institutions, unsuccessfully contested the Parnell seat.
Frederick Pirani continued to speak on practically every controversial subject until defeated for the Hutt seat in 1902. For seventeen years he tried his utmost to be returned to the House, but, in rotation, the electors for Palmerston North, Wanganui and Wellington Central rejected him. He then concentrated on his newspaper and educational interests.
Another colourful New Zealand personality, Sir Percy A. Harris, distinguished himself in English politics and for many years sat as a member of the British House of Commons.
Recognition of Jewish service to the country was reflected in the appointment of a number of Jews to the Legislative Council. Samuel Edward Shrimski, who had been appointed for life, died in 1902. Members of the Council paid him touching tributes. One called him "a champion of the oppressed". Another referred to him as "a foreigner winning his spurs".
The Hon. Charles Louisson, an active executive member of many varied organizations in Canterbury, including the New Zealand Trotting Club, of which he was President, although he spoke but seldom in the Council, continued his services until his death in 1924, when a number of glowing tributes were paid to his memory. In 1920, the brilliant editor of Dunedin's Evening Star, Mark Cohen, received his appointment to the Council, where he sat until his death in 1928.
One more member of the Jewish faith, Eliot Rypinski Davis, sat in the Legislative Council before its abolition in 1951. A son of Moss Davis, he, together with his brother Sir Ernest, consolidated their interests in Hancock and Company and in allied concerns. A man of wide culture, Eliot R. Davis won, as a youth, the Curlow medal for theory of music at Auckland University College. He did a great deal to promote the pig industry in New Zealand. He had a boar farm and his animals won a number of prizes at agricultural page 219 shows. His prize imported boar he called "Chief Rabbi". A very orthodox Jew, Aaron Vecht, who even carried his own Kosher butter with him when he travelled, was also closely connected with the pig industry. He had discovered a system for the mild curing of bacon which he introduced to New Zealand and for which he received one shilling a head for every pig carcass cured under his system. It is interesting to note that the name of Aaron Vecht is among the distinguished names appearing on page one of the first Golden Book of the J.N.F. in Jerusalem, together with those of Theodore Herzl and other pioneer Zionists. The Hon. Eliot R. Davis for many years acted as Consul for Japan. He suffered a severe blow when his son, Trevor Davis, one of the founders of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, passed away at an early age. In his memory, his parents erected a fountain in the Selwyn Domain at Mission Bay which, when illuminated at night, forms various colour combinations through a cycle of jets. In honour of his father, Moss Davis, the Hon. Eliot R. Davis erected a direction finder on the heights of Princes Drive, Nelson.
His brother, Sir Ernest Hyam Davis, erected a direction finder on top of Mount Eden, Auckland, for the same purpose. A great patriot and civic leader, he served as Chairman of the Joint Council of St John and Red Cross in the Second World War, for which work he was awarded a knighthood of St John of Malta and the Legion of Honour. Besides his activities on many civic boards and institutions he acted as Mayor of Newmarket, and in 1935 was elected Mayor of Auckland, a position which he held continuously for six years, earning great popularity by his sportsmanship. He belonged to practically every sporting organization in the Auckland district, especially supporting yachting, for which he had a particular love from his keen volunteer days in a naval detachment in which he served for eleven years. He had raced, as a personal friend of Sir Thomas Lipton, in the famous yacht Shamrock. At the age of eighty-four years, Sir Ernest still sails his own yacht in and about Auckland Harbour. His larger gifts to the City of Auckland include Brown's Island, the name of which has now been changed to Davis Island.
Others who gained election as mayors of their cities or towns included Maurice Cohen of Palmerston North, prominent because of his interest in sport and music, besides his connection with the United Fanners' Cooperative and the Palmerston North Chamber of Commerce. In the same city, Frederick Joseph Nathan, who also was elected Mayor, had wide interests. As President of the New Zealand Horticultural Society, he was one of the prime movers in the establishment of Massey College. His business connections fitted him as President of the Palmerston North Chamber of Commerce. He acted as Chairman of Joseph Nathan Limited, the New Zealand Casein Company, and the Glaxo Manufacturing Com- page 220 pany (N.Z.). Abraham Wachner, an Invercargill personality, served as its Mayor, for which he was awarded the O.B.E. Harold Caro acted in the same capacity at Hamilton. He received the O.B.E. for his chairmanship of the Waikato Hospital Board and for other civic services. It was claimed that he was the first Jewish child born in the South Island. Israel Joseph Gold-stine, too, gained the O.B.E. He was Mayor of One Tree Hill for fifteen years. He sat on the executive of the National Patriotic Council besides his appointments as Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Auckland Metropolitan Milk Council and the Auckland Suburban Local Bodies' Association. A Mayor of North East Valley, a keen sportsman and an examiner for the New Zealand Dental School, had the extraordinarily long name of Septimus Solomon Arthur Wellington Daniel Myers.
Amongst the many Jews who served on city and local councils, quite a number distinguished themselves by long and meritorious service. Councillor Leo Stein of Dannevirke, apart from acting as Chairman of the Hospital Board, held executive positions in practically all of the important institutions in the area. The development of the Eastbourne Borough was in a large measure due to the enthusiasm of Councillors H. J. Levy, S. Edilson and I. Hart. F. Cohen and D. J. Nathan served for many years on the Wellington City Council. In Dunedin, Barnett Isaacs, Abraham Solomon and Mark Silverstone gave devoted service to the City Council.
Mark Silverstone, a popular leader, together with a number of other Jews, helped in a great measure in the formation of the New Zealand Labour Party. It originated in the Wellington workroom of a Jewish tailor, H. Joseph, on a Sunday morning in May, 1907. Amongst the fifteen people present, four were Jews—H. Joseph, Alf Rose, Karl Roth and Simon Zander. Every Sunday morning this group met at Joseph's workroom, arranged lectures and street-corner meetings, and published pamphlets. The Socialist Party made good progress, and early in 1908 gathered sufficient strength to procure its own premises and to publish a small monthly paper, Commonweal, which was the first Labour paper in the Dominion. Later in the same year, branches of the Socialist Party were formed in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin. P. Black, and later Luis Marks, took a leading part in the movement in Auckland, and Mark and I. Silverstone in Dunedin.
Near the end of 1909, a powerful industrial organization came into being—the New Zealand Federation of Labour. Its founders and leaders were all very able men. Before the First World War a small wave of Jewish people, originally from Russia and Poland, but who had lived in Scotland for a number of years, migrated to New Zealand. Among them came Hyman Webster, a very active member of the British Independent Labour Party. An able man of brilliant intellect and wide reading, he used his keen and remarkably logical mind to add practicality to his idealism. His political page 221 judgment was almost faultless. On the same boat in which he migrated to New Zealand, he formed a lifelong friendship with Peter Fraser, migrating at the same time. Together they helped in the establishment of the Social Democratic Party in 1913. This was one camp in which Jews more than shared the hard pioneering work of organizing New Zealand labour into a great independent political force. Among them in a less conspicuous manner worked Lazer Zander, whilst his brother Simon, who had moved to Napier, established an active branch there and in the neighbouring town of Hastings.
Another camp, comprising a number of trade union officials and a more conservative element, included a most far-seeing and active man, Solomon Gordon. A nephew of David Wolfson, who had succeeded Theodore Herzl in the Zionist movement, he, too, had lived in Scotland where he had become one of the earliest members of the Independent Labour Party and a great friend of its leader James Keir Hardie. His sole aim was to bring about a united Labour Party on the pattern of the movement in Britain. Towards this end he worked tirelessly and selflessly. His brother, Shaiah, helped him as his right-hand man.
In the home of the Gordons, the leaders of the warring factions frequently met. Many conferences between the two labour bodies were held with the object of bringing about unity. With the influence of Solomon and Shaiah Gordon on the one hand and Hyman Webster on the other, agreement was finally reached, resulting in the formation of the New Zealand Labour Party in July, 1916. The movement appointed Hyman Webster, one of its most energetic and zealous workers, to the National Executive.
For the small number of Jews in the country, it is amazing that they played so important a role in the pioneering of the New Zealand Labour Movement. They are remembered with affection, honour and esteem in the Labour Party. Hon. P. C. Webb, writing to Solomon Gordon in later years, said, "We all appreciated the wonderful work you did throughout the years when workers were few. The government which you helped to create will never let you down. Your old comrades, Savage, Semple, Fraser, Thorn and company, all join in wishing you a very merry and bright Xmas."
In 1936, the Government appointed Mark Silverstone a director of the New Zealand Reserve Bank. He had served on the Workers' Political Committee which had organized the election of Labour Members of Parliament. He had also organized the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Labour Party. Besides his post on the Dunedin City Council he also served on the Otago Hospital Board.
Though Jews had a great deal to do with the organization of the Labour Movement, they still continued helping to organize industry and commerce. Out of five delegates sent to the British Chamber of Commerce from New Zealand, two, Sir Arthur Myers and Joseph E. Nathan, took a deep interest page 222 in Jewish communal affairs. Firms established by Jewish pioneers still continued to flourish, although some like Levin and Company had passed out of the original family's hands and others had changed into public companies. Nevertheless, Jews, like Hillel and Stanley Korman, still upheld the pioneering spirit. Coming from Europe they founded the Korman Mills, in 1939, in Auckland. At the end of 1955 they were employing over 1000 workers in one of the largest and most modern factories in New Zealand. In a building 250,000 square feet in extent, not one pillar nor one pipe can be seen. All installations are underground. Air-conditioned, fireproof, soundproof, its concrete floors are covered with plastic for reasons of warmth and to make it easier for the employees to stand. The company also pioneered amenities, playgrounds and a kindergarten for the children of workers. It stressed management-labour co-operation. Over two hundred and eighty of its workers own cars which they park in twenty acres of ground set aside for the purpose.
Others in the field of commerce included Hubert Joseph Lichtenstein, Chairman of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, who later presided over the Auckland senior branch. John Myers presided over the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and assisted in the foundation of the Wellington Show Association. In many countries Jews have difficulties in joining the Stock Exchange. In Auckland, both R. E. Isaacs and L. A. Levy acted as stockbrokers.
In developing trade between New Zealand and other countries, some Jews found it advantageous to act as consuls for various lands. Hubert L. Nathan, a member of the Wellington Harbour Board and Hospital Board, acted as Honorary Consul for Chile, whilst E. J. Hyams was appointed Honorary Consul for Czechoslovakia. In Auckland, Morris Copeland, a Past Master and Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in New Zealand, served as Vice-Consul for the Netherlands, and in Wellington, Bernard Gotlieb served as Consul for the United States of America. Besides acting as Agent for the Colony of Fiji, David L. Nathan was appointed Consul for Portugal, positions handed on at his death to his son Lawrence D. Nathan. The latter holds the position of Chairman of the Auckland Harbour Board. Before being seriously wounded on the Libyan front, he won the foil and epee championships of New Zealand.
The country produced quite a number of Jewish sportsmen prominent in different fields. Amelia Morris was a champion swimmer, Jack Jacobs, a leading cricketer, S. Hollander, a well-known footballer and international referee, Jack Meltzer, a featherweight boxing champion, and Charles Louisson, amateur champion of the shot and hammer. Louisson excelled in other sports too, and took a keen interest in returned soldiers' affairs, presiding over the Palmerston North Returned Servicemen's Club.
Both Leon Kronfeldt and John Leslie represented New Zealand in swim- page 223 ming as well as in rugby football, the latter also being well known as one of the best amateur heavyweight boxers in the country. Isadore Zuckerman excelled as a sculler, whilst an amateur equestrian, Trevor Davis, often appeared at point-to-point and show meetings and was widely known as a , keen rider and able horseman.
I. Salek, well known in Wellington bowling circles, had the unique honour of being presented with a specially struck medal, the first of its kind in the British Empire, on behalf of the New Zealand Justices' Association, which he founded. Like Felix Hector Levien, a stipendiary magistrate in Auckland, Salek acted in a judicial capacity in Wellington as City Coroner. A profound believer in women's rights, he served as Chairman of the Women's Reform Institute.
As far as Jewish women were concerned, they really had no need for reform. In their religion, they enjoyed equal rights with men, although their duties differed. In home life, they enjoyed the traditional companionship and the indulgences which Jewish husbands usually shower upon their wives. Most Jewish women in New Zealand do not idle, but spend their leisure hours in some public social service. The more prominent amongst them include Mrs Florence Pezaro, the President of both the Australia Club and of the Victorian League, and Miss Kate Keesing, a prominent member of the latter institution.
New Zealand Jewry could indeed be proud of its record of public service and acceptance of civic responsibility. The Anglo-Jewish tradition of loyalty to both country and faith found concrete and sincere expression within the Dominion. Jews regarded their duties towards the State as part of their religion. They were extremely sensitive in the matter of maintaining the good name of the Jews. They therefore approached their obligations and voluntary activities with zeal and determination to succeed. The result was both satisfactory to themselves and favourable to New Zealand.