It started as a bold idea driven by Hillel Sydney in the 1960s, it took its physical form when Shalom College opened its doors on March 29, 1973, at the University of NSW, and it is currently home to 133 students from many multicultural backgrounds, faiths and affiliations.
Fifty years on, the college remains thriving, and the not-for-profit organisation that runs it – Shalom – has become a vital cog in the Sydney Jewish communal wheel, enriching Jewish life, art, culture and education, through a multitude of programs and events.
Among the branches on its growing tree are the Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Scholarship Program, the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival, Adamama community garden and the PJ Library for children.
Shalom also continues to drive the Limmud festival of learning, Launchpad innovation program, Zikaron BaSalon, an annual Jewish theatrical production, Shalom Baby, and much more.
Last Wednesday, the college’s main function room was filled with the who’s who of contributors and supporters of Shalom – spanning the past to the present – for the first of several 50th anniversary celebrations.
The guest speaker line-up included former Shalom College master and CEO for 30 years, Dr Hilton Immerman, Supreme Court judge and former Shalom College resident Justice Kelly Rees, and UNSW vice-chancellor and president Professor Attila Brungs.
Shalom’s programs director, Rabbi Alon Meltzer, told The AJN the event showcased the impact of Shalom on both student life and the broader Jewish community.
“Shalom has a proud history, and a bright future,” he said.
“To hear Justice Kelly Rees poetically describe the impact of her time at the college, as a student and tutor, reminded us of the importance of Shalom as a bridge builder between the Jewish community and the larger society.
“It was fascinating hearing past residents, founding families, and our many long-time supporters share anecdotes of their time at the college, the impacts of the programs we have incubated over the past 50 years, and how the college was often the centre of communal life for so many, hosting bnei mitzvah, engagement parties and many communal events.”
Sir Paul Strasser and UNSW vice chancellor at the time, Sir Rupert Myers, laying the foundation stone for Shalom College in January 1972.