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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Rintel, Moses (1823–1880)

by J. S. Levi

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Moses Rintel (1823-1880), Jewish minister, was born in Edinburgh, son of Myer Rintel, rabbi of the Jewish community, and his wife Sara. Rintel was educated in Scotland and London and was authorized by Rabbi Solomon Herschell, chief rabbi of London, to officiate as a shochet (slaughterman for kosher food) and minister. His first post was in Brighton.

In 1844 Rintel migrated to New South Wales, where he established the Sydney Hebrew Academy. He went to Melbourne in 1849 to take charge of the newly established Hebrew Congregation in Bourke Street as 'reader' of the religious services, teacher of the children, and shochet. On 22 August 1849 Rintel married Elvina, daughter of John Hart.

After many disputes, Rintel resigned from the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation in 1857 and established the Mikveh Israel Melbourne Synagogue at the eastern end of the city. The second congregation in size and status, it received a grant of land from the government and built a synagogue at the corner of Exhibition Street and Little Lonsdale Street. In 1877 the congregation dedicated a new synagogue in Albert Street, East Melbourne.

Though the East Melbourne Synagogue was known as 'Rintel's Shool', it was many years before he received a salary for his pastoral work. His marriage and his family connexions brought him a small private income which enabled him to be financially independent. He was trustee, secretary and minister of the synagogue's Board of Management and, while officiating at the congregation as reader, opened an associated school for Jewish boys. Rintel helped to establish the first authorized rabbinical court (Beth Din) in the British Empire outside London and eventually became its chairman. In 1868 after a dispute with the rabbi of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, the chief rabbi named Rintel senior minister of the Melbourne Hebrew community.

Rintel's career was marked by endless quarrels with his community about proselytes and the children of mixed marriages. He was active in communal and philanthropic affairs and was a distinguished Freemason. Well known throughout Victoria, he died on 9 May 1880 of tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for many years. He was survived by his wife and eight children and left an estate valued at £3831.

Select Bibliography

  • L. M. Goldman, The Jews in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century (Melb, 1954)
  • Jewish Herald, 21 May 1880.

Citation details

J. S. Levi, 'Rintel, Moses (1823–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 5 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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