There are 45,000 Jews in Melbourne and 35,000 in Sydney. There are Jews in other parts of Australia as well.
The first Jews to arrive in Australia, among the original convicts sent by The United Kingdom, arrived in 1788. Regular, organized worship started in The 1820's. No Jewish community was formed at first because the first Jewish convicts were illiterate in both English and Hebrew. In 1817, a Chevrah Kaddish was formed in Sydney. By The 1800's there was an established Jewish community made up of many free settlers as well as convicts. The first synagogue was established in Hobart, Tasmania in July, 1845. It is still in use today. More Jews arrived in Australia during The Australian Gold Rush as well as to escape the pogroms of Eastern Europe. In The Late 1930's, many Jews escaped to Australia from Germany and Austria. After World War II, many Holocaust survivors were admitted and today Australia has the largest number of Holocaust survivors of any Jewish community in The World.
The 2 major centers of New Zealand Jewry are Auckland and Wellington. Jews began to arrive in New Zealand in The Early 1800's. Many were active in commerce with Australia and The United Kingdom. As gold was discovered on South Island, Jews spread all over New Zealand. In The 1900's Jews settled in New Zealand from The United Kingdom. Recently, Jews have also immigrated to New Zealand from South Africa. New Zealand even had a Jewish Prime Minister, Julius Vogel, who was often compared to Benjamin Disraeli.
The community, concentrated in Noumea, is composed of recent Jewish immigrants from France. Nearly all of them are Sfaradim, who work in commercial ventures or in the state administration. In 1987, a Jewish community was officially established. There is one synagogue in Noumea, which is served by a cantor. Kosher food is imported from Australia.
The Fiji Islands
Nearly all Jews in Fiji live in Suva, the capital. Jewish settlement in Fiji can be traced back to the arrival from Australia of 20 year old Henry Marks in 1881. Marks laid the foundation of what became one of the most extensive commercial enterprises in The Western Pacific. Marks was later joined by Jews from India and elsewhere in The Middle East and The Orient. Until very recently, there was no organized Jewish life. However, this changed with the creation of a communal organization called The Fiji Jewish Association. Religious life has been confined to a communal seder organized by The Israeli Embassy and attended by 50 to 60 people.
Most Jews of this island in French Polynesia are of North African origin. The first Jew to arrive in Tahiti was Alexander Salmon, a banker from France and the son of a London rabbi. Once in Tahiti, he married Arrioehau, a Polynesian princess who led the local Teva clan. Over time other Jews settled on the islands, but most eventually assimilated into the local population and converted to Catholicism. In The 1960s, with the arrival of Algerian Jewish refugees, the first permanent Jewish community was started.
The Association Culturelle des Israelites et Sympathisants de Polynesie (ACISPO), established in 1982, represents The Jewish Community. Some of the intermarried members of the community are active in communal life together with their non-Jewish spouses, hence the word "sympathisants." In 1993 a synagogue and community center were consecrated in Papeete, the capital, and in 1994 a mikva was opened. Two of the community's Torah scrolls were a gift of The Egyptian Jewish Community of Paris, and another was donated by a community in Los Angeles. Services are conducted according to the Sfaradi nusach. Twice a year, a rabbi from The United States comes for a period of several weeks to conduct Talmud Torah classes for both children and adults. Kosher food is available.
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