• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE1072

Reading, Fanny

(1884 – 1974)
  • Born 1 January, 1884, Karelizt Russia
  • Died 31 December, 1974, Sydney Australia


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.


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.



  • 2010 - 2010

    Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

  • 1911 - 1911

    Jewish Young People’s Association

  • 1923 - 1923

    National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA)


Published resources

  • Newspaper Article
    • Service to Women: Dr Fanny's lifestyle, Cohen, Lysbeth, 1981
  • Journal Article
    • Not merely housewives. Australian Jewish Women. Paper presented to Australian Jewish Historical Society. Meeting (1980: Sydney)-, Cohen, Lysbeth, 1981
    • The law of loving kindness: a tribute to Dr Fanny Reading, founder of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia in 1923, Andgel, Anne, 1998
    • Perspectives from the Australian Jewish community, Rutland, Suzanne, 2002
    • Dr Fanny Reading v Smith's Weekly, Ochert, Morris S., 1996
  • Book Section
    • The changing role of women in Australian Jewry's communal structure, Rutland, Suzanne D., 1987
    • Dr Fanny Reading, Cohen, Lysbeth, 1988
    • Beginning with Esther: Some distinguished Jewish women of New South Wales, Cohen, Lysbeth, 1980
  • Book
    • Making a Difference: A History of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, Newton, Marlo Leigh, 2000
    • Meeting new migrants on the wharves: A significant part of National Council of Jewish Women history from the 1920s to the 1950s, 2003
  • Report
    • Official report of the Second Jewish Women's Conference of Australasia : under the auspices of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, held at Sydney, N.S.W., March 8th to 16th, 1932., 1932
  • Conference Proceedings
    • First Jewish Women's Conference, May 21st to 27th, 1929, 1929
  • Resource Section
  • Edited Book
    • 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Radi, Heather, 1988
  • Resource
    • Trove

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Queenie Symonds interviewed by Brenda Factor in the NSW Bicentennial oral history collection [sound recording]
  • State Library of New South Wales
    • Dr Fanny Reading papers, photographs and realia, ca. 1890-1974

Related entries

  • Member
    • National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (1923 - )