Isaac Mordecai Isaacs


The Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital was established on 7th October 1932 by the South Australian Government, much to the relief of the overcrowded Infectious Diseases Block at the Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace.  The hospital was designed to care for and accommodate patients with infectious diseases such as polio, scarlet fever, measles and diphtheria.

The new Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital was an autonomous organisation controlled by its own Board of Management and its finance was maintained solely by the contributions of local councils. 

Isaac Isaacs served on the Board of Management at the time the new Infectious Diseases Hospital was established, representing the Board of Health.  (Source: Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Friday 20 December 1929, page 27)

ISAACS, Isaac Mordecai, J.P.

Isaac Mordecai Isaacs
(Photo provided by Rob Thornton, City of Adelaide Archivist, 02/09/2022)


1st July 1858


Isaac Mordecai Isaacs was born in Melbourne, Victoria, the second son of Wolf Isaacs.


In 1862 his family moved to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he was educated at Christchurch. After “about 25 years’ residence in New Zealand”, he returned to Victoria.


Melbourne, Dunedin (NZ), Melbourne, Adelaide.


Isaacs married Zelinda Rosetta Raphael, on the 26th July 1882 in Dunedin, New Zealand.  Zelinda was the daughter of Ralph Raphael, one of South Australia’s pioneers.  She was born in Islington, London in 1857, and was brought to Australia as an infant.

Isaac and Zelinda had three children during their marriage:

  • Son, Ralph Reginald Isaacs born 1883, in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand (died in 1951, age 68)
  • Daughter, Adelaide Ivy Isaacs born 16 Apr 1885 in Dunedin, New Zealand (died 1949, age 63)
  • Son, Onslow Victor Isaacs born 1889 in Dunedin, New Zealand (died in 1956, age 67)


Isaacs left Victoria in July 1899 to live in Adelaide and take on the role of managing trustee of the estate of his father-in-law Ralph Raphael, which included a land and estate business. Ralph Raphael had died in 1890, leaving his financial business in the hands of his partner and only son Henry Joseph Raphael who died in 1899.

Isaacs was an Adelaide businessman who served as Mayor of the City of Adelaide from 4 December 1915 to November 1917. In total, he was a member of the Adelaide City Council for 30 years, serving as a councillor from 1902–1906, alderman from 1907–1915, mayor from 1915-1917, and alderman again from 1917-1933. He also filled the role of Chief Magistrate of the City during World War I, and was chairman of the Finance Committee for more than 12 years.

Mayor Isaac Mordecai Isaacs, City of Adelaide: 1915-1917
(Photo provided by Rob Thornton, City of Adelaide Archivist, 02/09/2022)

Isaacs was president of the Justice Association, chairman of the Liberal Federation, a representative of the Municipal Tramways Trust, representative of both the city and the Suburban Local Boards of Health on the Central Board of Health, representative of the Adelaide Local Board of Health on the Metropolitan County Board under the Food and Drugs Act, member of the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital Board and held important positions in other organisations. He was also a land agent and an adjustor of fire claims.


His father-in-law, Mr Ralph Raphael, was one of the original founders of the synagogue and of the Sabbath school, as well as the Jewish Philanthropic Society. Mr Raphael died on the 29th October 1890, at the age of 69.

The Synagogue built in Rundle Street: original Adelaide Synagogue completed 1850 (on right).
Replacement larger Synagogue completed 1870 (on left).


In 1889 Isaac Isaacs was elected grand president for Australasia of the United Ancient Order of Druids; on his retirement from that office, he was presented with a gold medal in recognition of 10 years continuous service on the board of directors.

United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD)
A fraternal organisation founded in England in 1833 after a scission with the Ancient Order of Druids. Its motto is ‘United to assist.’


While living in Victoria, Mr Isaac Isaacs was elected treasurer for the demonstration to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.


Mr Isaac Isaacs was a Master of the St Andrews Masonic Lodge, a Master of the Southern Cross Masonic Lodge, and served for three years as Chief President of the South Australian branch of the Australian Natives’ Association; he also served as the President of the Adelaide Jewish Philanthropic Society.

Australian Natives’ Association (ANA)

The ANA was one of many friendly societies operating in Australia in the 19th century, most of which were offshoots of British societies.  However, the ANA was an exclusively Australian organisation established in Victoria on 24 April 1871 by a group of young, white Australian-born men. It differed from many other societies in that meetings were open to all and membership did not involve rituals or regalia.  Unlike other societies, it was non-partisan and resolutely non-sectarian – banning the discussion of religious matters. 

Adelaide Jewish Philanthropic Society

The Adelaide Hebrew Philanthropic Society was founded in 1852, and the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation in 1848. The philanthropic society looked after and maintained links among members of the Jewish community, while the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation set about establishing a permanent place of worship.


Mr Isaac Isaacs was a football enthusiast and was described in one news article of the time as a vigorous supporter of all manly sports.


16 January 1935, Adelaide, aged 76.


Isaac Isaacs passed away at his home “Quevedo”, Main North Road, Thornton, South Australia


Buried intheJewish Section, West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.  His wife Zelinda Isaacs is buried in the site alongside Mr Isaacs.


DEATH OF ALDERMAN ISAACS; Outstanding Figure In Civic Life
(News Article: Chronicle, Adelaide, Thursday 24 January 1935, page 44)

“An outstanding figure in the civic and business life of Adelaide has been removed by the death at his home, ‘Quevedo,’ Main North Road, Thorngate, last week of Alderman Isaac Isaacs, in his 77th year.

Alderman Isaacs, who had been in indifferent health for some time, accompanied members of the Infectious Diseases Board on a visit to Melbourne recently. He motored to Victoria with his son, Mr. R. B. Isaacs, who resides in that State, and shortly after his return to Adelaide Isaacs collapsed at his home.

In the municipal life of Adelaide Alderman Isaacs established an excellent record, having held the office of Mayor for two years. He served on the City Council as alderman and councillor for 30 years. The late Alderman Isaacs was born in Melbourne on July 1, 1858, and when he was 10 years of age his parents moved to Dunedin, New Zealand. He was educated in Christchurch, and after about 25 years’ residence in New Zealand returned to Victoria and was later elected treasurer by the Combined Friendly Societies and other associations for the demonstration held to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. In 1889 Alderman Isaacs was elected Grand President for Australasia of the United Ancient Order of Druids. On his retirement from office he was presented with a Past Grand President’s collar and a gold medal in recognition of his 10 years’ continuous service on the board of directors. Before he left Victoria to live in Adelaide in July 1899, Isaacs was presented with a testimonial in acknowledgement of many services to the society”.

Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Friday 18 January 1935, page 22
Mail (Adelaide, SA),  Saturday 10 July 1937, page 2

More Information about the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital can be found here:

Written by Karyn Baker, CALHN Health Museum Volunteer