Australian Jews

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Australian Jews
יהדות אוסטרליה
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Melbourne and Sydney[1]
Australian English, Hebrew, Yiddish

Australian Jews, or Jewish Australians, are Jews who are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. There are 97,335 Australians who identified as Jewish in the 2011 census.[1] Jewish citizens make up 0.3 percent of the Australian population.[2] Judaism is a minority religion in Australia.


The first Jews to come to Australia were eight English convicts transported to Botany Bay in 1788 aboard the First Fleet.[3] About 15,100 convicts were transported by the time transportation ceased in 1840 in New South Wales and 1853 in Tasmania. It is estimated that of those who arrived by 1845 about 800 were Jewish. Most of them came from London, were of working-class background and were male. Only 7% of Jewish convicts were female, compared with 15% for non-Jewish convicts. The average age of the Jewish convicts was 25, but ranged from 8 to elderly.[4]

At first, the Church of England was the established religion, and during the early years of transportation all convicts were required to attend Anglican services on Sundays. This included Irish Catholics as well as the Jews. Similarly, education in the new settlement was Anglican church controlled until the 1840s.[4]

The first move toward organisation in the community was the formation of a Chevra Kadisha (a Jewish burial society) in Sydney in 1817,[4] but the allocation of land for a Jewish cemetery was not approved until 1832.[5] In 1830 the first Jewish wedding in Australia was celebrated, the contracting parties being Moses Joseph and Rosetta Nathan.[6]

Jewish immigration came at a time of antisemitism. The Returned Services League and other groups publicized cartoons to encourage the government and the immigration Minister Arthur A. Calwell to stem the flow of Jewish immigrants.[4]


There had been at least two short-lived efforts to establish reform congregations, the first as early as the 1890s. However, in 1930, under the leadership of Ada Phillips, a Liberal or Progressive congregation, Temple Beth Israel, was permanently established in Melbourne. In 1938 the long-serving senior rabbi, Rabbi Dr Herman Sanger, was instrumental in establishing another synagogue, Temple Emanuel in Sydney. He also played a part in founding a number of other liberal synagogues in other cities in both Australia and New Zealand. The first Australian-born rabbi, Rabbi Dr John Levi, served the Australian liberal movement.[7]



Melbourne Ports has the largest Jewish community of any electorate in Australia.[8] Bialik College is a Jewish day school in Melbourne, as well as King David School and Mount Scopus Memorial College.


A poster of Menachem Mendel Schneerson at the entrance of a Chabad house in Bondi Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.


The Carmel School is a Jewish day school in Perth.


In Adelaide there have had been many Jews involved in the history of the city, with many successful civic leaders and people in the arts.[9]

Assimilation and population changes[edit]

The same social and cultural characteristics of Australia that facilitated the extraordinary economic, political, and social success of the Australian Jewish community have also been attributed to contributing to widespread assimilation.[10] From 2008 to 2012, more than 400 Australian Jews moved to Israel and most of them have done compulsory military service.[11] There was an almost 50 percent increase in immigration from Australia to Israel between 2009 and 2010.[12] There was a 45 percent increase in percentage of immigration in 2010, the highest of the English speaking countries; 240 Australians moved to Israel, up from 165 in 2009.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Australian Jewish News - Census shows Jews are on the move
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d Rutland, Susan, 2005, The Jews in Australia, ISBN 0521612853.
  5. ^ V.D. Lipman, A Social History of the Jews of England, 1850-1950, London, 1954, p.121.
  6. ^ Suzanne D. Rutland (2008). "Jews". Dictionary of Sydney. Dictionary of Sydney Trust. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Rubinstein and Freeman, (Editors), "A Time to Keep: The story of Temple Beth Israel: 1930 to 2005" A Special publication of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, 2005.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Adelaide Jewish Museum Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  10. ^ Postrel, Virginia (May 1993). "Uncommon Culture". Reason Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ JA cuts deal to keep immigration emissary Down Under
  13. ^ JAFI reforms may hurt Australian immigration to Israel, leader says