East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

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East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation
East Mealbourne Synagogue.JPG
Basic information
Location 488 Albert St, East Melbourne, Victoria,  Australia
Geographic coordinates 37°48′33″S 144°58′27″E / 37.80926°S 144.97415°E / -37.80926; 144.97415Coordinates: 37°48′33″S 144°58′27″E / 37.80926°S 144.97415°E / -37.80926; 144.97415
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Country Australia
Year consecrated 1877[1]
Status Active
Leadership Rabbi Dovid Gutnick
Website melbournecitysynagogue.com
Architectural description
Architect(s) Crouch & Wilson[2]
Architectural style Renaissance Revival
Groundbreaking 20 March 1877
Completed 1877
Construction cost £7000
Direction of façade South
Capacity 470
Length 22.2m (73 ft)
Width 12.8m (42 ft)
Height (max) 9.4m (31 ft)
Dome(s) 2
Materials Brick

The East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (Hebrew: ק"ק מקוה ישראל), also known as East Melbourne Shule, East Melbourne Synagogue, Melbourne City Synagogue or City of Melbourne Synagogue[3] is a historically significant Jewish congregation in East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The synagogue, consecrated in 1877, is the oldest in Melbourne.


The congregation was formed in 1857[4] under the leadership of Reverend Moses Rintel following his leave from the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation.[5] Initially named Mikveh Israel Melbourne Synagogue,[6] it was provided with a government land grant in 1859 on the corner of Little Lonsdale Street and Stephen Street (today Exhibition Street) in Melbourne's City Centre.[5][7] A small synagogue was erected on the site in 1860.[1] The congregation consisted primarily of Rintel's followers, including German[2] and Eastern-European[8] Jews who lived in Melbourne's inner-city suburbs within walking distance of the synagogue.

Seeking new premises, the congregation received government permission to sell its property in 1870. It moved to a new site on Albert Street, East Melbourne, where a new synagogue building was consecrated in 1877.[6] Rintel served the congregation until his death in 1880.[5]

In March 1977 the synagogue's centenary was celebrated with a special service led by Rabbi M. Honig.[9]


Interior of the East Melbourne Synagogue.
Facade of the East Melbourne Synagogue.

Continuously in use since 1877, the East Melbourne Synagogue is the oldest in Melbourne[10] and the largest 19th-century synagogue in Victoria. It is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register[2] and is classified by the National Trust of Australia[11] due to its historical, social, and architectural significance.[2]

The two-storeyed synagogue was designed by noted Melbourne architects Crouch & Wilson. The internal space is surrounded on three sides by a gallery carried by cast iron columns, each surmounted by an unusual arrangement of an impost block flanked by consoles. The main ceiling is paneled, with a row of large and unusual ventilators marking the location of former suspended gas lights. The original interior, particularly the Bimah and Torah ark, remain in an intact state.

The building's facade, constructed in the style of Renaissance Revival, was completed in 1883. It comprises five bays. Tuscan pilasters divide the bays of the lower floor, and Corinthian pilasters divide the upper floor bays. Two dome-like mansard roofs flank the central pediment.[2][11]


Led by Rabbi Dovid Gutnick since November 2007,[12] the congregation has a current membership of around 200 families.[13] It is currently the only synagogue in Melbourne's inner-city area.[7]

Regular Sabbath and holiday services have been held at the synagogue since its establishment, making it the oldest continuously active synagogue in Australia.[original research?]

In January 2012, the congregation celebrated its 155th anniversary with a double Torah dedication ceremony and fundraising gala dinner attended by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.[14][15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • History of the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation "Mickva Yisrael", 1857–1977, By Morris C. Davis, East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, 1977 ISBN 0-9596899-0-7, 978-0-9596899-0-7
  • Historical Sketch of the Two Melbourne Synagogues Together with Sermons Preached, by Dattner Jacobson and Moses Rintel (1877), By Maurice Brodzky, Dattner Jacobson, Moses Rintel, Kessinger Publishing LLC, 2009 ISBN 1-104-17771-4


  1. ^ a b Brodzky, M.; Jacobson, D.; Rintel, M. (1877). Historical Sketch of the Two Melbourne Synagogues ... Together with Sermons Preached. A. & W. Bruce. p. 47. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "VHD". vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Home". melbournecitysynagogue.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Timeline for Australian Jewish History". jewishhistoryaustralia.net. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Biography - Moses Rintel - Australian Dictionary of Biography". adbonline.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Rutland, S.D. (2005). The Jews in Australia. Cambridge University Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781139447164. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Melbourne City Synagogue". onlymelbourne.com.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Jupp, J. (2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins. Cambridge University Press. p. 528. ISBN 9780521807890. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "The Age - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Rutland, S.D. (2005). The Jews in Australia. Cambridge University Press. p. 24. ISBN 9781139447164. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Home". nattrust.com.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  12. ^ http://www.zcv.org.au/site/images/downloads/szcannualreport2008.pdf
  13. ^ "www.theage.com.au - Sharing a new shule of thought". theage.com.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "Historic day for Jewish Australia". media.theage.com.au. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  15. ^ "Chief Rabbi in Melbourne – the video | J-Wire". Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 19 July 2015.