Hobart Synagogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Hobart Synagogue

The Hobart Synagogue, in Hobart, Tasmania, is remarkable both for being the oldest synagogue building in Australia and for being a rare example of the Egyptian Revival style of synagogue architecture.[1] The Egyptian Revival building was constructed in 1845.[2][3] The trapezoidal shape of the windows and the columns with lotus capitals are characteristic of the Egyptian Revival style.[4][5]

The synagogue is located in Argyle Street, Hobart, and the land on which it stands was originally part of the garden of former convict Judah Solomon. It has a seating capacity of 150 and features hard benches at the back of the building for the Jewish convicts who in the early days were marched in under armed guard.[6]

Currently the Hobart Synagogue has regular services by both Orthodox and Progressive groups.[7]

Although several synagogues and churches were built in the Egyptian Revival style in the early nineteenth century, only a few are known to survive, they include the Downtown Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee, the First Presbyterian Church (Sag Harbor), New York, the Old Synagogue at Canterbury, England and the Launceston Synagogue, Launceston, Tasmania.


The building of a synagogue was raised as the Hobart Jewish community began to emerge in the 1830s. The Hobart Hebrew Congregation Synagogue was consecrated in 1845.

The building was designed by Hobart Town architect James Thomson, who was a Scottish convict who was Pardoned in 1829. [8]

By the 1840s, there were sufficient numbers and prospered sufficiently to enable the building of synagogues in Hobart Town (1845) and Launceston (1846). The first Jewish minister was appointed in 1846, and religious practices were established.

The 1848 census recorded 435 Jews in Tasmania, the highest number of Jews recorded for Tasmania. Numbers declined as some settlers returned to England, and others left for mainland colonies and New Zealand. The Launceston Synagogue closed in 1871. The Hobart Hebrew Congregation continued its communal life. Though there was no minister in the periods 1873–1911 and 1922–1942, Sabbath services were conducted by members.

European refugees arriving from 1938 rejuvenated the Jewish community in Tasmania. Ministers were appointed from 1943, but from 1956 members were again required to conduct services.[7]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ H.A. Meek, The Synagogue, Phaidon, 1995, pp. 175, 183-4
  2. ^ Franklin, Mark (2005-07-05). "Hobart's historic shul". Australian Jewish News. Archived from the original on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  3. ^ Cox, Tim (2005-11-25). "Redeeming values of Hobart's Synagogue". ABC Tasmania. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  4. ^ Diana Muir Appelbaum, "Jewish Identity and Egyptian Revival Architecture", Journal of Jewish Identities, 2012 (5(2) p. 7.
  5. ^ Thomas U. Walter's Crown Street Synagogue, 1848-49, by Rachel Wischnitzer, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Dec., 1954), pp. 29-31
  6. ^ Hobart - high on the list Down Under
  7. ^ a b Tasmanian History
  8. ^ "JUDAH SOLOMON AND THE BUILDING OF THE HOBART SYNAGOGUE". Tasmanian Geographic. 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2014-09-11. 

Coordinates: 42°52′48″S 147°19′39″E / 42.8798828°S 147.3276214°E / -42.8798828; 147.3276214