International Survey of Jewish Monuments

List of Most Important Jewish Monuments in Australia
compiled by ISJM


Jewish sites in Australia (incl. Tasmania)

    Jewish history in Australia began in 1788 when Jewish convicts numbered among the first European settlers.  Growth of a subsequent Jewish community was made in jumps, and certain dates remain.  The first minyan and burial society date from 1817, and the 1828 census records about 150 Jews in New South Wales and Tasmania.  In the 1830s Jews arrived in increasing numbers, mainly from England.  There were several waves of immigration – in the 1850s due to the prosperity following the discovery of gold; from 1891 to 1911 due to an influx of Eastern European Jews fleeing from pogroms; in the 1930s, German refugees; and in the post-World War II period, Holocaust survivors.
    The first synagogue in Sydney was constructed in 1844.  Organized communities were established in Hobart (1845) and Launceston (1846) (both on Tasmania), Melbourne (1841), and Adelaide (1848).  Several small communities which came into being during the gold-rushes had all but disappeared in the 1960s:  Forbes, Goulburn, Maitland, Tamworth, Bendigo, Geelong, Kalgoorlie, Toowoomba, and Launceston.
    Today most of Australia’s 100,000 Jews are centered in two major cities:  Melbourne’s Jews are mostly Polish with some Russians while Sydney’s are mostly Hungarian. The majority of the synagogues in Australia are Orthodox.  In some cities there are reform synagogues but generally they have no physical structures.
[Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 3 (1978) pp. 877-887.]

For further reading:
Brasch, R., Australian Jews of Today
Goldman, L.M., Jews in Victoria in the 19th Century (1954)
Gordon, M., Jews of Van Diemen’s Land (1965)
Levi, John S., “Art and Architecture of the Synagogue”  Jewish Museum of Australia (1982)
---w/ G. Bergman, Australian Genesis:  Jewish Convicts and Settlers 1788-1850 (1974)
Munz, H., Jews in South Australia, 1836-1936 (1936)
Price, Ch. A., Jewish Settlers in Australia (1964)
Rutland, Suzanne D., Edge of the Diaspora:  Two centuries of Jewish settlement in Australia  (1988)

For more information or to visit contact:

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV)
306 Hawthorn Road, South Caulfield (Melbourne), Victoria  3162
Tel.:  9-272-5566
Fax:  9-272-5560

Australian Jewish Historical Society – NSW
C/o The Great Synagogue, Castlereagh St., Sydney 2000
Australian Jewish Genealogy Society
 P.O. Box #154, Northbridge, Sydney 2065

Israel Embassy
6 Turrana Street, Yarralumla  ACT  2600
Tel.:  02-6-273-1300/09
Fax:  02-6-273-4273

Consulate General of Israel
6th Floor, 37 York Street, Sydney  NSW  2000
Tel.:  02-9-264-7933
Fax:  02-9-290-2259

For tours:
Ticket Counter
 6900 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 706, Chevy Chase, MD  20815
 Tel.:  800-247-7651  Fax:  301-913-0166

Lotus Tours
 2 Mott St., New York, NY  10013
 Tel.:  212-267-5414  Fax:  212-608-6007

For synagogues:
For cemeteries:

Bankstown, New South Wales
Star of David Synagogue

Caulfield (Melbourne), Victoria
Caulfield Hebrew Congregation
572 Inkerman Road
Designed with a set of windows that recall a Menorah.  During Hannukah, the windows are illuminated.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV)
306 Hawthorn Road, South Caulfield (Melbourne), Victoria  3162
Tel.:  9-272-5566
Fax:  9-272-5560
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria is the roof body and official representative of the largest and most active Jewish community in Australia.  It has many affiliate organizations under its wing.

Hobart (Tasmania)
Hobart Synagogue
Argyle Street
Tel.:  03-6-234-4720
Built by the congregation of the York Street Synagogue of Sydney in 1845, the edifice displays an Egyptian Revival exterior, and a Victorian interior.  The synagogue is the oldest still standing, and from its apex in the early 19th century when it vouched the second largest congregation in the colony, the community since then has greatly diminished.

(Former) Bourke Street Synagogue
Although the Bourke Street Synagogue was replaced by the Toorak Road Synagogue in 1930, it still can claim to be Melbourne’s first formal synagogue, founded in 1848.  Perhaps partly influenced by its surroundings, the central business district, its character represented that of an “institutional merchant bank.”

Immigration Museum
400 Flinders Street, Melbourne Victoria
Tel.:  03-9-927-2700

Jewish Museum of Australia:  Gandel Centre of Judaica
26 Alma Road, St. Kilda (Melbourne) Victoria  3182
P.O. Box #117, St. Kilda (Melbourne) Victoria  3182
Tel.:  03-9-534-0083
Fax:  03-9-534-0844
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.  Melbourne’s stately St. Kilda Synagogue is located opposite the Museum.  There is a museum shop.

Melbourne Hebrew Congregation/Toorak Road Synagogue
The Melbourne Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1841 and the Synagogue was situated for ninety years in the central business district; a link with that location being the palm tree on the front portico.  The synagogue, replacing the Bourke Street Synagogue, was completed in 1930 and opened by the distinguished Australian, General Sir John Monash, a member of the congregation.  The front façade, is in traditional classical style, adorned with Corinthian pillars, the large auditorium inspired by the American picture theatres of the period.  Of particular interest to the building, is the copper dome, an oriental inspiration, standing over 30 meters above the floor levels.  The officiating area (Bimah) is carved from Tasmanian blackwood and is possibly the finest example of timber work in Australia.  In recent times the stained glass windows were created by the Israeli artist, Rimona Kedem.
The Synagogue was designed by Nahum Barnet, a noted Melbourne architect, and seats over 1300 people.  Looking across St. Kilda Road, Melbourne’s principal boulevard, lies the Jewish Museum of Australia.

Temple Beth Israel, Reform
74-82 Alma Road, St. Kilda (Melbourne), Victoria  3182
Tel.:  61-3-9-510-1488; fax:  61-3-9-521-1229
The synagogue boasts windows by one of Australia’s leading artists, David Wright.  Melbourne’s Jewish Museum of Australia (the Gandel Centre of Judaica)  is located opposite the Synagogue.

Yeshiva Centre
92 Hotham
Tel.:  9-522-8222
Fax:  9-522-8266

Melbourne (East)
East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation
488 Albert Street, East Melbourne  3002
Tel.:  9-662-1372
Fax:  9-662-1843
This 1877 edifice is a two-story classical revival structure with a central pediment flanked by two elongated cupolas rising from square drums.

The Central Synagogue/Orach Chaim, Reform
15 Bon Accord Ave., Bondi Junction  NSW  2022
Or:  P.O. Box #169, Bondi Road, Bondi  NSW  2026
Tel.:  02-9-389-5622
Fax:  02-9-389-5418
The Reform Central Synagogue was rebuilt from 1996-98, after it had burned down in 1994.  The firm of Jackson Teece Chesterman Willis designed the synagogue.

The Great Synagogue/Beth Israel, Orthodox
Elizabeth Street (adjacent to Sheraton-on-the-Park Hotel), Sydney NSW  2000
Entrance:  166 Castlereagh Street
Tel.:  02-9-267-2477
Fax:  02-9-264-8871
The Great Synagogue is one of Sydney’s most beautiful, fascinating and historic heritage buildings.  Centrally located and facing Hyde Park, the Synagogue has stood on its present site for well over a hundred years, since 1878, but the congregation itself has a history going back at least fifty years before that date, to the decade of the 1820’s.  The formal establishment of the congregation came on 2 November, 1831.
The ‘Great’ of the Great Synagogue makes contrast to the two smaller places of worship that had preceded it, namely the York Street Synagogue and the Macquarie Street one, and because it reflected in its ritual and principles the historic Great Synagogue in the City of London.  An architectural competition was won by Thomas Rowe, one of Sydney’s leading architects, who planned a building in what was described as Transition French Gothic.  The foundation stone was laid in 1875 and consecrated three years later.
Today the Synagogue is able to incorporate a war memorial center, auditorium, library, education center, offices and a Judaica shop.  On one side is the Rabbi L.A. Falk Library, and on the other the A.M. Rosenblum Jewish Museum (tel.:  9-267-2477.)
[The Great Synagogue:  History & Heritage, published by the Women’s Auxiliary of The Great Synagogue, Sydney, 1993]

Rundle Street
The synagogue at Rundle Street was built in 1850.  It has an Egyptian Revival exterior and interior.  In the 1870s the synagogue was enlarged in the Norman style; still later a further extension was made in the Victorian style.

Sydney Jewish Museum:  Holocaust and Australian Jewish History
148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst  NSW 2010  Australia
Tel.:  (02) 9-360-7999
Fax:  (02) 9-331-4245
The Sydney Jewish Museum is dedicated to documenting and teaching the history of the Holocaust.  Housed in the historic Maccabean Hall , the museum presents visitors with an elaborate critique of the best and worst of humanity.  Its two permanent exhibitions, Culture and Continuity and The Holocaust, challenge visitors’ perceptions of democracy, morality, social justice and human rights and are testimony to the fortitude and endurance of the human spirit.  The museum houses, also, a museum shop, a resource centre, and a fully kosher facility (Café Macc).

York Street Synagogue
The first formal synagogue in Australia was designed by James Hume who had previously been associated with some of Sydney’s finest buildings.  The foundation stone was laid in 1842 and consecration was 2 April, 1844.  The York Street Synagogue was commodious (it had seating for 500) and elaborately furnished.  Its Ark, larger and even more impressive than that in Bridge Street, is also extant.  The exterior was described as being in the Egyptian style; similar buildings, still extant, were erected by the congregations in Hobart (1845) and Launceston (1846).

International Survey of Jewish Monuments
c/o Jewish Heritage Research Center
Box 210, 118 Julian Pl.
Syracuse, New York 13210-3419, USA

tel: (315) 474-2350
fax: (315) 474-2347

Last updated: February 16, 2005