The York Street Synagogue Ark, Jana Vytrhlik

Vol 45 no 3, Aug 2023
Article from Vol 45 no 3, Aug 2023

The York Street Synagogue Ark, Jana Vytrhlik


Two early arks held in the museum collection of The Great Synagogue in Elizabeth Street, Sydney are impressive examples of Australian furniture. Their distinct Egyptian style could have been a source of inspiration for the architectural style of the York Street Synagogue (1844). In her search for the arks’ provenance, curator Dr Jana Vytrhlik came up with an ingenious argument to tackle the question. Looking at the emerging theatre scene in Sydney in the 1830s, she makes the case for Barnet Aaron Phillips – theatre stage ‘machinist’, cabinet maker and member of the Synagogue Committee – as the probable designer and maker.

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The Australiana Society acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.