A Recap of Jewish Communities in Australia
"The Limmud FSU delegation was warming up for the coming conference in Melbourne.
Jews first began to arrive in the new continent in the 1820s with the first waves of free immigration – except for a handful of Jewish convicts beginning with the First Fleet of 1787. Growing antisemitism in Europe made Australia a favored destination. Later on, there were also economic benefits, especially during the feverish excitement of the Gold Rush. Most of the early immigrants were from the British Isles, many of them from Scotland and Ireland. But there were also some from Eastern Europe. Today, there are some 12,000 Jews in the continent, mostly in Melbourne and Sydney, with smaller communities in Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and even in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. It is estimated that some 30,000 or nearly 30 percent of these people, are of Russian-speaking origin. Limmud FSU has arrived Down Under because Australia is a preferred destination, like the USA and Canada, for many Russian-speaking Jews from the former Soviet Union. The event has hosted 400 people and took place in the small town of Lorne, on the scenic Great Ocean Road. Conducting the Limmud FSU Australian happening were Alexandra (Sasha) Klyachkina, chair of the organizing committee and an emissary of the Jewish Agency to the Russian-speaking community of the Australian Zionist Federation, and project manager, Tania Shvartsman. We talked to the volunteers and participants and learned about Jewish and Jewish Russian-speaking life and Australia, about the difficulties of fitting in and finding the right community. If history had been different, the Aboriginals that portrayed in Yosl Bergner exhibition “A Land for the Jews?”, in subject poverty and misery, in long coats buttoned up to the neck, could well have been the neighbors of the Jews in the Outback of the Southern Continent."
About Australian Jews
The Land Down Under
There were 91,022 Australians who identified as Jewish in the 2016 census, which is a 6% decrease on 97,355 Jewish Australians in the 2011 census. The Jewish community of Australia is composed mostly of Ashkenazi Jews, though there are Jews in Australia from many other traditions and levels of religious observance and participation in the Jewish community.