For centuries, Jewish life has thrived Down Under, in lands that are among the most remote in the world. A small group of Jews was among the first Westerners to arrive in Australia. Maintaining tradition and Jewish identity was essential for those who chose to live in this part of the world. After World War II, Australia would become a refuge for thousands of Holocaust survivors. Today, Australia and New Zealand are home to an unprecendented number of synagogues, Jewish schools, and cultural and religious organizations.
In Auckland, the Auckland Hebrew Congregation and Congregation Beth Shalom serve the Jewish community. The historic former Princes St. Synagogue is fully restored and furnished. Melbourne's first formal synagogue, founded in 1848, the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, completed in 1930, with its Corinthian pillars, copper dome, bimah carved from Tasmanian blackwood (possibly the finest example of timber work in Australia) and its stained glass windows created by the Israeli artist, Rimona Kedem, seats more than 1300. The graceful domed St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation, founded 1872, is Melbourne's traditional Orthodox Congregation. Melbourne's Jewish Museum of Australia displays Jewish culture, history and religious practice. The Museum is a national institution dedicated to the conservation, preservation and exhibition of Jewish heritage, arts, custom and religious practice in all its diversity. In particular it illustrates the Australian Jewish experience. Through its exhibitions it tells of the common experience of migration, displacement and the challenge of adaptation to a new land. The Great Synagogue, is one of Sydney's most opulent and historic heritage buildings. The Synagogue has stood on its present site for well over a hundred and twenty years. The Sydney Jewish Museum, with its exhibits of Holocaust and Australian Jewish History, is dedicated to documenting and teaching the history of the Holocaust. Housed in the historic Maccabean Hall, the museum is a testimony to the fortitude and endurance of the human spirit.
These congregations are only a sprinkling of the many congregations and Jewish organizations that serve the diverse Jewish communities of Australia and New Zealand. Peruse this site to see more examples of the unity, commitment, and strength of the Jews Down Under. Visit the Australia Jewish Links section for a much more detailed listing of the Jewish communities of Australia and New Zealand.
AND KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ...
CHINA ... I continue to assist in the planning of private or group tours to China and am happy to help you create an itinerary for yourself, your family, or your group to travel when it is perfect for you. I do not have any planned visits to China myself at this time, but hope to return to see much more of the country with a small group visiting the northern and southern Silk Roads. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an interest in this kind of visit to China or if I may assist you in creating a personalized tour.
I wish you many happy, healthy travels and a year of insight and beauty.