Levi, John Simon

views updated


LEVI, JOHN SIMON (1934– ), Australian rabbi and historian. The descendant of pioneering Jews in Victoria, Australia, Levi became the first Australian-born rabbi. Educated at Melbourne University and Hebrew Union College, he succeeded Herman Sanger (1909–80) as chief rabbi at Temple Beth-Israel, Melbourne (where he served from 1960), the oldest continuing non-Orthodox synagogue in Australia, retiring in 1997. A highly articulate man, Levi was one of the best-known Australian rabbinical figures to non-Jews and also a historian of note, having co-authored (with G.J.F. Bergman) Australian Genesis: Jewish Convicts and Settlers, 17881860, the authoritative history of the early Jewish community in Australia, which appeared in 1974 (rev. ed. 2002); The Forefathers: A Biographical Dictionary of the Jews of Australia, 17881830 (1976); and Rabbi Jacob Danglow: 'The Uncrowned Monarch of Australian Jews' (1995). A Festschrift volume of historical essays in his honor, A Portion of Praise, appeared in 1997.

[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]