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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Australia

Jewish immigration and immigration waves because of gold rushes in Australia, pogroms and Nazi rule in Europe - Jewish institutions in Australia

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia,
                vol. 3, col. 881, the Great Synagogue in Sidney,
                consecrated in 1878
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 881,
the Great Synagogue in Sidney, consecrated in 1878

from: Australia; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica: vol. 3

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)



[Jewish immigration since 1788 - immigration wave since 1830 - numbers and censuses]

[[The fate of the aborigines and the racist base of the State of Australia are never mentioned in this article]].

AUSTRALIA, island continent, within the British Commonwealth.

At least six Jewish convicts who arrived at Botany Bay, New South Wales, in 1788 were later among the first settlers, including John Harris who, when freed, became the first policeman in Australia. The first minyan [[10 or more Jews needed for a worship service]], and burial society date from 1817 and the 1828 census records about 100 Jews in New South Wales and 50 in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).

In the 1830s Jews arrived in increasing numbers, mainly from England, and by 1841 Jews had also settled in Victoria, South Australia, and (col. 877)

Western Australia, bringing the total in the continent to 1,183 (0.57% of the whole population). The table in columns 879-880, derived from Australian censuses (declared religion only), traces the increase in the Jewish population by decade from 1,183 (1841) to 59,343 (1961), showing the rise and fall in each state and the percentage of Jews in the total population.

[Immigration waves because of gold (1850s), pogroms (1891-1911) - immigration from Nazi Europe (1933-1945) - immigration of European Jews since 1945]

There were several waves of immigration - in the 1850s due to the prosperity following the discovery of gold; from 1891 to 1911 an influx of eastern European Jews fleeing from pogroms; in the 1930s German refugees; and in the post-World War II period the *displaced persons who survived the Holocaust in Europe. (col. 878)

[[The Jewish immigration under other quota of nationalities or hidden by other religion is not mentioned]].

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia,
                vol. 3, col. 877-878, map of the Jewish communities with
                date of foundation
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 877-878,
map of the Jewish communities with date of foundation

[Table. Jews in Australia 1841-1968]
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
% of Total Population









from: Australia; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica: vol. 3, col. 879-880

Nineteenth Century. [Gold rush communities - assimilation tendencies - rare Jewish institutions]

In 1828 Philip Joseph Cohen was authorized by England's chief rabbi to perform marriages. R. Aaron Levy (Levi), a member of the London bet din [[Jewish court]], paid a visit in 1830 to arrange a divorce. The first synagogue in *Sydney was constructed in 1844. Organized communities were established in Hobart (1845), Launceston (1846), *Melbourne (1841), and *Adelaide (1848). Several small communities which came into being during the gold-rushes had all but disappeared in 1960s: Forbes, Goulburn, Maitland, Tamworth, Bendigo, *Geelong, Kalgoorlie, Toowoomba, and Launceston. Economic conditions made the country towns most attractive to the new Jewish settlers who came with little money, but fear of assimilation induced many to move to larger urban centers as soon as their material situation permitted.

In the 1860s almost (col. 878)

one-quarter of all Jews lived in country towns (14%) and rural areas (10%), whereas the 1961 census showed that 96.4% lived in the six large cities, 2.7% in small towns, and 0.9% in rural areas. Jacob *Saphir of Jerusalem, who visited Australia in 1862, gives an interesting account of Jewish conditions in his Even Sappir.

Australian Jewry in this early period was numerically small and scattered and consequently in danger of assimilation. Ministers and teachers were scarce, and religious observance was lax. The shortage of Jewish women (in 1881 there were only 78 women to every 100 men) led to a high rate of intermarriage.

[[Add to this Jewish law says that a Jew is only a Jew when it is born by a Jewish woman]].

Many, however, still maintained their Jewish observances, often traveling hundreds of miles to take part in religious services or to have a child circumcised. Nor did they fail in charitable and social endeavor, and several Australian Jewish philanthropic institutions have a history of well over a century. Until free and compulsory state education was introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century, the Jewish communities maintained their own Hebrew day schools.

[Full political rights for Jews in Australia - famous Jews in Australia]

The early Jewish settlers made a considerable impact on the colony's development, in the civic, and in some instances agricultural, spheres. Religious life was based on the English-Jewish tradition, which remained dominant, and the authority of the British chief rabbinate was respected. Civil rights and the right of Jews to vote and sit in parliament were never subject to restrictions. The [[white, racist]] government acceded to Jewish requests for land for cemeteries, synagogues, schools, and ministers' residences, and limited subsidies were granted at different periods for Jewish religious establishments.

The synagogue was the focal point of communal life. Jews were generally highly respected; Judaism was recognized as a "denomination"; and the rabbinical office (col. 879)

enjoyed a prestige seldom found in other lands. It is characteristic that throughout Australian Jewish history many Jews who were prominent in public life, at times occupying some of the highest positions in the land, were also active in the congregation. These include Sir Saul *Samuel, minister of the crown in New South Wales and president of the Sydney Great Synagogue; Sir Benjamin Benjamin (1836-1905), lord mayor of Melbourne and president of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation; Sir Julian Emanuel Salamons (1835-1909), solicitor general in New South Wales; Sir Daniel *Levy, speaker of the House of Representatives and editor of The Australian Hebrew; Vabian Louis *Solomon, premier of South Australia and leader of the community there; George Judah Cohen, a leader in commerce and president of the Great Synagogue from 1878; and Sir Archie Michaelis (b. 1889), speaker of the Victorian parliament and president of the St. Kilda Synagogue.

Other Jews who achieved prominence were Barnett Levy, founder of the first theater in Australia, and the composer Isaac *Nathan, described as the "father of Australian music". The historian Joseph *Jacobs and the philosopher Samuel *Alexander were also Australians. The (col. 880)

close integration of the Jews in Australian life is exemplified in the careers of Sir Isaac Alfred *Isaacs, the first Australian-born governor-general, and General Sir John *Monash, who commanded the Australian forces in France in World War I.

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Australia, vol. 3, col. 883, Sir Isaac Alfred
                          Isaacs, Jewish chief justice and
                          governor-general of Australia
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 883, Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, Jewish chief justice and governor-general of Australia
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Australia, vol. 3, col. 882, Jewish General
                          Sir John Monash, commander of the Australian
                          forces in France in WW I
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 882, Jewish General Sir John Monash, commander of the Australian forces in France in WW I
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Australia, vol. 3, col. 883-884, Monash
                          University, Melbourne, named after Australia's
                          great Jewish soldier in WW I
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 883-884, Monash University,
Melbourne, named after Australia's great Jewish soldier in WW I

[Immigration waves since 1880 approx. - unorganized Jewry in Australia]

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries Australian Jewry was reinforced by further immigration, mainly from Europe. The *Perth and *Brisbane communities were firmly established, and additional synagogues were founded in Sydney and Melbourne. In 1878 the Great Synagogue of Sydney was opened. Notable leadership in the sphere of religious affairs was provided by such rabbis as Alexander B. *Davis of the Sydney Synagogue (1862-78) and of the Great Synagogue (1878-1903); Joseph Abraham's of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1883-1919); Abraham Tobias *Boas of Adelaide (1870-1918); David Isaac Freedman of Perth (1897-1939); Francis Lyon Cohen of the Great Synagogue (1905-34); Jacob *Danglow (1905-60); and Israel *Brodie of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1922-37), who was later chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the British Commonwealth.

The periods immediately before World War I and between the two world wars brought a number of eastern European Jews to Australia and also some from Palestine who settled in Perth. [...]

In the 1920s Australian Jewry was in danger of losing its identity and becoming fully assimilated into Australian life when judged by the high incidence of intermarriage, poor synagogue attendance, lack of knowledge (col. 881)

of the Hebrew language and Jewish studies, and inadequate educational facilities. Jewish cultural life and Zionism were practically nonexistent. (The Zionist Federation of Australia was founded in 1927 with Israel Brodie as its first president and Sir John Monash as its honorary president). At the most there were a few social and philanthropic institutions and even these activities were uncoordinated. There was no united body to represent or speak in the name of the whole community.

Community affairs were largely in the hands of the Australian-born segment whose activities centered around the synagogues and who had little or no experience of the organization or the vast range of cultural activities known to the European kehillot [[congregations]]. They deemphasized elements of Jewish distinctiveness and group particularism, believing that in this way it would be easier to integrate into Australian society. Feeling that Jews should maintain a few basic religious differences but not be socially segregated or institutionally isolated, they formed State Advisory Boards with only the synagogues represented. (col. 882) [...]

[Mass immigration during Nazi times 1933-1945]

Mass immigration followed the rise of Hitler. Although the Australian authorities were at first reluctant to encourage non-British immigration, at the *Evian Conference in 1938 1938 the Australian government allotted [[granted]] 15,000 entry permits to victims of oppression. The outbreak of war in 1939, however, prevented the complete realization of this scheme, but some 7,000 refugees, almost all Jews, settled in Australia between 1935 an 1940. (col. 881) [...]

[[Stupid Swiss justice and stupid Swiss journalists do not accept any emigration wave of Jews 1933-1945 until now (2008). They will have to learn this, the stupid Swiss justice and the stupid journalists. And Australia was not the only country for immigration waves, and Jews could emigrate also under other nationalities and with forged passports or converted as "Christians" which is not mentioned in this article]].

The newer immigrants from Europe brought with them deep religious convictions, Hebrew and Jewish scholarship, Yiddish culture, and [racist Herzl] Zionist sentiments. During the late 1930s a struggle for community control was launched by these new elements. Their impact on community life brought into being State Boards of Deputies on which not only the synagogues but all major organizations (secular, [racist Herzl] Zionist, cultural) were represented. The Board of Deputies in each state could speak in the name of the whole community.

The State Boards of Deputies amalgamated in 1944 to form the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to represent the community on all federal matters and on world Jewish organizations. These new bodies embarked on programs in the spheres of education, Zionism, the combating of anti-Semitism, and in Jewish immigration into Australia with remarkable results, stemming the tide of assimilation and building up a virile Jewish community life. As a result the large majority of Australian Jews adhered moderately to Jewish rituals, were strongly opposed to intermarriage, supported the Jewish day schools, and had strong sympathies with [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel.

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia,
                vol. 3, col. 879, Jacob Montefiore, one of the eleven
                commissioners appointed by King William IV in 1935 to
                found the colony of South Australia
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 879, Jacob Montefiore, one of the eleven
commissioners appointed by King William IV in 1935 to found the colony of South Australia

[1945-1971: racist Zionist dogma is dominating the Jewish institutions - survivors immigration wave from Europe and Egypt]

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1946 dissociated [[separated from]] the community from the anti-Zionist views of (col. 882)

Sir Isaac Isaacs and wholeheartedly supported the demands for a Jewish state and free emigration to Palestine. From 1945 it strongly influenced the Australian immigration policy, obtaining many concessions from Arthur A. Calwell, minister for immigration, to admit Jews on humanitarian grounds. Later it kept a vigilant eye on the entry of Germans to Australia, ensuring there would be adequate screening to prevent the entry of former Nazis. From the 1950s it succeeded in its efforts to secure Australian government support for the rights of Jews in the U.S.S.R.


Contemporary Jewry. [further immigration waves - religious indoctrination by racist Zionists]

Australia's Jewish community more than doubled in size between 1933 and 1954 (increasing from 23,553 to 48,436 persons), as a result of both natural increase and of an immigration policy favorable toward Jewish refugees from Europe. The 1966 census indicated that 63,271 persons had registered as Jews, whereas informed estimates calculated the actual number of Jews in 1968 at 70,000 (constituting 0.5% of the total population).

In 1968 Melbourne had 34,500 Jews (almost 50% of the total Jewish population of Australia); Sydney had 28,500 (40%); and the remainder lived in smaller communities: 3,000 in Perth; 1,600 in Queensland (1,500 in Brisbane); and 1,200 in South Australia (1,100 in Adelaide).

The Hobart Synagogue in Tasmania was the oldest still standing in Australia in 1970, but the community had dwindled greatly despite an unexpected increase from 1961 (the Jewish population in 1968 was estimated at about 235). (col. 883)

Small communities also existed in the Australian Capital Territory (*Canberra).

Only in Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania were the majority of the Jews Australian born. In Victoria eastern European immigrants prevailed [[dominated]], whereas in New South Wales more assimilated, western European and British immigrants predominated. After the Arab-Israel conflict in 1948 a substantial number of Egyptian Jews went to South Australia.

Community Life.

The great influx of Jewish immigrants rejuvenated community life in the 1950s. This trend sharply contrasted with the diminishing influence of Jewish communal life and the typical rising intermarriage rates of the previous decade. Synagogues, centers, and schools sprang up in the suburbs of the capital cities. By the end of the 1960s a number of day schools and over 45 synagogues existed throughout Australia. Brisbane, Adelaide, and other communities with small Jewish populations carried on religious and Jewish cultural activities. In the new federal capital, Canberra, a Jewish community was granted a site for a synagogue.

An estimated 55-65% of the adult members of the communities were members of synagogues, 80% of them Orthodox and 20% Liberal. The first Sephardi synagogue [[African and Asian Jews]] was established in Sydney in 1962. The congregations' rabbinical courts were located in Melbourne and Sydney. The Orthodox congregations in Sydney were organized in the United Synagogues of New South Wales. All six Liberal congregations, which were first introduced in 1935, were affiliated with the Australian Union for Progressive Judaism.


Melbourne's day schools, two of them offering studies on the high school level, in 1968 had 2,750 (col. 884)

pupils. They included the Mount Scopus War Memorial College, an elementary and high school established in 1948 by the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies with 1,600 students enrolled in a program of Jewish and secular studies; the (Lubavitcher) day school and Yeshiva College; and the Zionist Bialik College, Jewish pupils in state schools in Melbourne and Sydney were also allowed one hour a week of "release time" for religious instruction.

Sydney had three Jewish day schools (450 elementary and high school pupils); and Perth had one small Jewish elementary school. In addition, part-time religious (Sunday and talmud torah) schools were managed by the congregations. A part-time yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] existed in Sydney and two full-time yeshivot in Melbourne. Teachers were brought from abroad, mainly from [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel.

Community Organization and Services.

The Boards of Deputies elect biennially the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the headquarters of which alternates every two years between Melbourne and Sydney. In 1970 the E.C.A.J. was instrumental in forming the Federation of Jewish Communities of South-East Asia and the Far East, linking Jews of Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. The [[racist Herzl]] Zionist movement with 16 organizations is strong and well organized, including *Poale Zion, *Mizrachi, *Pioneer Women, and the *Revisionists. *WIZO with 3,000 members and the *National Council of Jewish Women have active branches in every city. The Australian Jewish Historical Society, founded in 1938, had its own journal. The *B'nai B'rith, founded in 1944, had 16 lodges and chapters in 1969. Youth activities included boy scouts and [[racist Herzl]] Zionist youth movements (*Bnei-Akiva, *Betar, *Habonim and *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir).

Social and cultural activities developed around the synagogue. The Jewish university students were organized in a separate society, the National Union of Australian Jewish Students; Hillel foundations also functioned in Melbourne and Sydney. Excellent sporting facilities and sports associations were available to the communities, and the Judaean Sports Carnival held interstate competitions for more than 40 years. Melbourne had a Jewish artists' gallery and from 1957 a Jewish Museum of Art which provided exhibitions and art classes for several hundred children and adults.

Australian Jewry supports several publications, including two English-language weeklies in Sydney and one in Melbourne (one paper in each city has a Yiddish edition as well); Adelaide and Perth have monthly newspapers. Sydney's The Bridge (founded in 1964) is the only English-language Jewish quarterly. Two Yiddish magazines, Der Landsman and Unzer Gedank, appear quarterly. The Jewish communities provided a variety of welfare services, including homes for the aged, a senior citizens' club (col. 885),

a rehabilitation hostel for the mentally ill (Melbourne), and the Wolper Jewish hospital (Sydney). The Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society in Melbourne provided a wide range of welfare services, and was the officially recognized body dealing with immigrant absorption in cooperation with the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and *HIAS.

Jews in Public Life.

Jews occupied positions in the state and federal parliaments, in the judiciary, and in the universities, but to a lesser degree in the professions, industry, and commerce. Prominent among them were members of parliament - Senator Samuel Herbert *Cohen, Sidney Einfeld, Abram *Landa, Baron Snyder; Judge Bernard Sugarman; Judge Trevor Rapke; Professor Zelman *Cowan; Professor N.H. Rosenthal; and Professor Julius *Stone.

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia,
                vol. 3, col. 885, B'nai B'rith House, Melbourne
amplifyEncyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 885, B'nai B'rith House, Melbourne

Australia-[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA] Israel Relations

Australian soldiers served in the Middle East in both world wars and formed close links with the local population.

In 1947 Australia's delegate to the UN Herbert V. Evatt, as chairman of the UN Ad Hoc Committee, played a major role in promoting the passage of the Partition Plan for Palestine (see *Israel, Modern, Historical Survey). From 1948 diplomatic relations between Australia and [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel [[with the aim that the borderlines would be the Nile and the Euphrates according to 1st Mose chapter 15 phrase 18]] were consistently strong, and successive Australian governments supported Israel's stand on important Middle East issues. Forests have been planted in [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel to commemorate the ANZAC forces and the AIF (Australian Imperial Forces) who fought in the Middle East in the world wars and formed ties of friendship with the yishuv [[Jewish population in Palestine until 1948]], and in memory of H. Evatt.

Cultural ties have developed between the two countries. Australian tourism to Israel was on the increase in the late 1960s, and commercial ties also grew steadily. In 1968 Israel exports to Australia totaled over $3,500,000 (primarily diamonds, textiles and wearing apparel, and foodstuffs), and Australian exports to Israel amounted to almost $3,000,000 (primarily textiles (wool), metals, and chemicals). In the 1950s an airlift of Australian sheep to Israel made an important contribution to [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel wool production.

Aliyah. [Jewish migration waves to Palestine]

Between May 1948 and March 1970, 1,116 persons immigrated to Israel.Until air-travel became popular those coming on aliyah had to traverse the Suez (col. 886)

Canal without betraying on their luggage or papers that Israel was their destination. Aliyah increased steeply in 1969 reaching 412 for that year; previous annual totals were:

1949: 51
1950: 87
1951: 33
1952: 13
1953: 9
1954: 18
1955: 16
1956: 10
1957: 24
1958: 13
1959: 25
1960: 28
1961: 16
1962: 27
1963: 41
1964: 40
1965: 38
1966: 23
1967: 28
1968: 35

An association of Australian immigrants exists in [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel. Most settled in the cities but small groups joined kibbutzim Kefar ha-Nasi and Maẓẓuvah. Several hundred Australians registered as volunteers at the outbreak of the Six-Day War.

See also *Education; *Zionism.


-- Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, 6 vols. (1939-68)
-- L.M. Goldman: Jews in Victoria in the 19th Century (1954), includes bibliography
-- H. Munz: Jews in South Australia, 1836-1936 (1936)
-- Jubilee History of the Great Synagogue (1928)
-- Story of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (1941)
-- Australian Jewish Forum (1941-49)
-- Australian Jewish Herald (1935-   )
-- Ch. A. Price: Jewish Settlers in Australia (1964)
-- M. Gordon: Jews of Van Diemen's Land (1965)
-- P.Y. Medding: From Assimilation to Group Survival (1968), includes bibliography
-- W. Lippman; in: JJSO, 8 (1966), 213-39> (col. 887)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 877-878
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 877-878
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 879-880
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 879-880
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 881-882
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 881-882

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 883-884
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 883-884
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 885-886
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 885-886
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                        Australia, vol. 3, col. 887
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Australia, vol. 3, col. 887

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