SYMONDS, SAUL (1894–1952), Australian communal leader. Symonds was born in Sydney, the son of a Russian-born furniture dealer, and was educated at Sydney Grammar School and Sydney University. He was a barrister from 1921 to 1939 when he became head of his family's furniture business. Symonds was among the most important communal leaders in New South Wales of the immediate postwar era, when Australia's Jewish community was being transformed by the arrival of thousands of Holocaust survivors. He served as president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies from 1945 to 1952 and was president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1946–48, but is best known as president of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society from 1948 to 1952, which (despite its name) was the main body responsible for Jewish immigration. Symonds oversaw the successful arrival and acculturation of thousands of survivors, but was criticized at the time for an officious manner, in contrast to the allegedly more welcoming attitude of Melbourne's immigration leaders.
ADB, 12, 158; I. Porush, The House of Israel (1977), index; W.D. Rubinstein, Australia II, index; A. Andgel, Fifty Years of Caring: The History of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society, 1936 – 1986 (1988); S. Rutland and S. Caplan, With One Voice: A History of the New South Wales Board of Deputies (1988).
[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.