Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Reading, Fanny (1884 - 1974)

MBE

Born
1884
Karelizt, Russia
Died
1974
Sydney, Australia
Occupation
Medical practitioner, Women's rights activist and Zionist

Summary

Fanny Reading, medical practitioner and activist for Zionist and Jewish women's causes, was born near Minsk in Russia in 1884. After her family migrated to Australia, Reading taught Hebrew to private students before entering the University of Melbourne to study music and later medicine. Graduating in 1922, she moved to Sydney to join her brother's medical practice. In 1923, inspired by the visit of Zionist emissary Bella Pevsner, she founded the Council of Jewish Women - a Zionist organisation which was also active on a range of women's issues, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

In 1925 she travelled to the United States, Europe and Palestine, and helped organise a conference for the International Council of Jewish Women. In 1929 she organised a conference in Sydney at which the National Council of Jewish Women was formed.

Details

Reading's father fled Russia for Ballarat soon after her birth. Fanny and her mother spent some time in London before they were able to join him, and the family relocated to Melbourne in the early 1900s. During WWI, due to hostility towards the Germans, they changed their name from Rubinovich to Reading.

Reading was active in many other organisations, including the National Council of Women and the Socialist Club, of which she was vice president in 1929. She was also vice president of the Youth Aliyah (which assisted Jewish orphans in Israel) and in 1948 she (unsuccessfully) represented this group in a libel suit against Smith's Weekly which had alleged that they raised money to buy weapons to fight the British in Palestine. Through both the National Council of Jewish Women and the Australian Jewish Welfare Society she was also active in immigration reception work in the 1930s, particularly assisting Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.

Sources used to compile this entry: Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644.

Related entries

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Fanny Reading Papers, 1905 - 1968, ML MSS 2860; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Interview with Queenie Symonds (1896-), ORAL TRC 2301 Int. 198; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

Jane Carey

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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