REV. MOSES RINTEL - MELBOURNE'S FIRST RABBI

[Rabbi Moses Rintel]

Rabbi Moses Rintel

The parents of Moses Rintel came from Eastern Europe and settled in England in the early 1800s. After spending some time in London they moved up to Edinburgh in Scotland where Moses was born about 1823. His father was Myer Moses Rintel, a businessman, Talmud and Rabbinical teacher, and minister. His mother was Sara(h), nee Davis. After a few years the family moved back to England and appear in the 1841 census at Gravel Lane, London. Though this census gives the names of all those in the household it does not show their relationship to each other and the entry for the Rintel family appears to mistakenly show Myer Rintel's wife to be Mary rather than Sarah. The family, minus Moses, appear in the 1851 census at Carter Street, London, England.

Moses Rintel spent some time at Brighton, Sussex in the early 1840s before emigrating to Australia in 1844 holding a Semeecha from the then Chief Rabbi in London, Dr. Solomon Herschell. He arrived at Sydney, New South Wales in July 1844 on the "Lloyds" from London (15 March 1844) and Plymouth (28 March 1844) via the Island of St. Pauls. In Sydney he set up and was principal of the 'Sydney Hebrew Academy' which was a well regarded educational establishment. While in Sydney he was a member of the Australian Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Melbourne was founded in 1835 and from its beginning had a Jewish connection through one of the members of the Port Phillip Association. The first settlers included a small but active and influential population of Jews. They practiced their religion as well as they could for a number of years and in 1848 obtained the services of Walter Levy Lindenthal as Reader. Like Moses Rintel, Lindenthal had been running an Academy in Sydney prior to arriving at Melbourne in February 1848. His appointment was not a success and before long he departed for Van Diemens Land. He was temporarily replaced for three months by John Henry Anderson before the position was offered to Moses Rintel. Rintel accepted the position of Reader and arrived at Melbourne on 4 April 1849 on the "Velocity" from Sydney and moved into the accomodation at the small Synagogue in Melbourne.

Rintel's appointment turned out to be successful though a number of contentious issues arose over the following years. One of these involved the circumcision of children where one of the parents was not Jewish. With the small population in the early days of settlement a number of Jews had children with spouses of other faiths. Circumcision of itself did make a person Jewish but had to be followed up with a further act (Tebilah). Rintel was opposed to circumsising these children where it was not certain they would continue in the faith but the members of his congregation were prepared to allow it. This matter was referred to London.

In 1857 Rintel resigned from the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation and set up a second Hebrew congregation known as the Mickva Israel Congregation which eventually opened a Synagogue in Albert Street, East Melbourne in 1877.

In 1864 he helped establish a Beth Din (rabinnical court of justice) in Melbourne, the only one in the British Empire outside of London, England and was eventually appointed its chairman. And on 18 April 1864 Rintel was appointed as one of the new Trustees of the Old Melbourne Cemetery. He was also a Freemason.

Another matter of contention arose over Rintel's status as a Rabbi. He was originally a teacher who had been elevated to Rabbi status. This had been satisfactory to the Melbourne congregation who when he was first appointed had stated that they wanted their children to receive a commercial education rather than a classical education. In the 1860s a dispute arose between Rintel and Rev. A. F. Ornstein over their comparitive status. However, as Rintel had over time been endorsed by the Chief Rabbi in London (Dr. Adler) in 1868 he was named as the Senior Minister of the Melbourne Hebrew community.

Rabbi Moses Rintel died on 9 May 1880 at his residence, 'Speedwell House,' Drummond Street, Carlton, Victoria and was buried on 10 May 1880 in the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton.

Moses Rintel was the son of Myer Moses Rintel and his wife Sara(h), nee Davies. Their birthplaces were given variously as Poland and Prussia. In 1869 Australian papers reported that the widowed mother of Rabbi Moses Rintel had died at Rogasen, Prussia on 4 May 1869.

Rintel had a sister named Floretta (Flora) Rintel who was born about 1826 in Scotland and a brother named Hyam Rintel who was born about 1830, possibly in England. Flora and Hyam appear in both the 1841 and 1851 census in London. In 1851 Flora was a tailoress and Hyam a tailor. It was also noted that Flora was dumb. There was possibly another older sibling not in the census with the family named Joseph Rintel who became a Rabbi in Cornwall. Nothing further is known about Flora but between the time of the 1851 census and the early 1860s Hyam Rintel emigrated to Australia and joined his brother Moses in Melbourne. In 1862 he married Jessie Ann Kefford and through her family connections became connected to a religious sect at Nunawading, many members of which later went to Western Australia. Hyam died in East Melbourne in 1898.

[Mrs. Elvina Rintel]

Mrs. Elvina Rintel

On 22 August 1849 Moses Rintel was married in the Melbourne Synagogue to Elvina Hart. Elvina, who had been born in New York, United States of America, was the eldest daughter of John Hart of Collins Street, Melbourne. Their children were:

1. Henri John Rintel, born 15 May 1850 in Melbourne and died on 13 June 1850. He was buried in the Old Melbourne Cemetery and his remains reinterred in the Fawkner Cemetery in 1920.

2. Isabel(la) Rintel, born 6 June 1851 in Melbourne. She married Abraham Stern in 1875 in Victoria and they had three daughters. Isabella died on 3 May 1921 in Melbourne and Abraham died in 1912.

3. Myer Rintel, born 11 January 1853 in Melbourne. He married Sophie Elizabeth Cohen in 1889 in Sydney, New South Wales and they had one daughter. Myer died on 9 December 1914 in Geelong, and Sophie died in 1937 in Armadale.

4. Edward Rintel, born 11 October 1854 in Melbourne. He is thought to have married Elizabeth Annie Louise Solomon in Perth, Western Australia about 1901 and possibly had a son named Edward in 1906.

5. Henri Rintel, born 15 May 1856 in Melbourne. He married Jane Manning in 1890 in Victoria. He died on 3 March 1923 in Kerang, Victoria.

6. Simeon Rintel, born 11 March 1858 in Melbourne. He married Bertha Waterman in 1886 in Victoria and they had a daughter named Grace in 1887. Simeon died on 11 January 1919 in Perth, Western Australia and Bertha died on 26 November 1927 in Fremantle, Western Australia.

7. Walter Rintel, born 28 November 1859 in Carlton. He married Louisa Edith Cox in 1898 in Victoria and they had one son and four daughters. Walter died in 1925 in Collingwood.

8. Adelaide (Ada/Addie) Rintel, born 1862 in Melbourne. She married Philip Joseph in 1888 in Victoria. Adelaide died on 26 October 1916 in Melbourne.

9. Sara(h) Rintel, born 16 October 1867 in Carlton. She died unmarried on 18 December 1893 in St. Kilda.

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Source of Images:

1. Rabbi Moses Rintel - ("Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal" vol.1,p.150) on the 'Obituaries Australia' website of the Australian National University.
2. Mrs. Elvina Rintel (nee Hart) - Nancy Keesing Collection, Archive of Australian Judaica, on the website of The University of Sydney.

( Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes - PPPG Member No. 52 )


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