ASHKANASY, MAURICE (1901–1971), Australian lawyer and communal leader. Born in London, Ashkanasy was taken to Australia as a child. He studied at the University of Melbourne, practiced law at the Victorian Bar, and was made a king's counsel in 1940. During World War ii Ashkanasy served in the Australian Army in Malaya and New Guinea, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Subsequently he became chairman of the Victorian Bar Council (1952–55). Ashkanasy was a prominent figure in Jewish affairs; by 1945 he was the recognized lay leader of Australian Jewry. He was five times president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, president of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies, and a member of the executive of the World Jewish Congress. Ashkanasy was also an important figure in the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, and sought election to Parliament, but was unsuccessful. He was a major force in reorienting Australian Jewry into a pro-Zionist direction and towards a greater willingness to assert its group identity forcefully, a path followed by all of his successors.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 13, 78–79; H.L. Rubinstein, Australia, i, index.
[Isidor Solomon /
William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]