The Australian Jewish community is the largest in the Asian region. The bulk of Australian Jewry is divided between the two cities of Melbourne (60,000) and Sydney (45,000), but smaller communities can be found scattered throughout the country in places such as Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Perth, and even in Hobart.
Jews were among the first convicts deported from the United Kingdom to Australia in the 18th century. By the 19th century, there was an established Jewish community, overwhelmingly made up of free settlers.
In the late 1930s, about 7,000 Jewish refugees, mainly from Germany and Austria, found sanctuary in the country. After the war, Australia admitted tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors, and today Australia has the highest percentage of Holocaust survivors of any Jewish community in the world.
The leading communal organization is the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
Zionism is strong in Australia and Australian Jews have emigrated to Israel in larger numbers than any other English-speaking Jewish community.
The Australian Jewish community is characterized by a number of phenomena that distinguish it from other English-speaking Jewish communities. These include a high rate of enrollment in Jewish day schools (75 percent of all primary school pupils and 55 percent of all high school pupils) and a low rate of intermarriage, currently around 15 percent. Melbourne and Sydney have a total of 16 Jewish schools, of which Moriah in Sydney is now the biggest.
There are two Jewish weeklies (the Melbourne and Sydney editions of the Australian Jewish News) and several other publications, including the Australia-Israel Review and the online service J-Wire. Each week, Australia's ethnic radio stations feature several hours of programming of Jewish interest in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
There are dozens of synagogues affiliated with all major religious movements, from Reform to ultra-Orthodox. In Melbourne, Sydney, and several other places, there are mikvaot and kosher butchers, bakers, and restaurants. There is also one kosher hotel in Melbourne, Kimberly Gardens.
Aliya: Since 1948, around 7,000 Australian Jews have emigrated to Israel.
The oldest synagogue in the country, in Hobart, is often visited. The late Victorian Great Synagogue of Sydney is an especially impressive example of Jewish sacral architecture. There are new Jewish museums in both Sydney and Melbourne.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry
80 Williams Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 83538500
Embassy of Israel
6 Turrana Street
Yarralumla, Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: +61 6 273 1309
Fax: +61 6 273 4273
For up to date information on Kosher restaurants and locations please see the Shamash Kosher Database
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