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Jews of South Australia

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Adelaide Jewish Virtual Library

South Australia memory


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Adelaide Wiki

Jewish History timeline


South Australia is a state of Australia, in the southern central part of the country, along the Southern Ocean. The state has a total of 1.7 million inhabitants, has the most centralised population of any state in Australia with more than 75 percent of its people living in greater Adelaide, while the other population centres in the state are relatively small.

// Jews settled in South Australia as early as 1835, and five years later formed the first congregation in that state. The Jewish population, however, has reached a figure of only 500 souls or barely .2% of the total population. Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, had a Jewish community as early as 1865, a few years after the formation of that state. According to the latest census they now number 1,000, most of whom are engaged in trade or commerce. Jewish settlers are also found in the sugar industry centers in the northern parts of the state. Western Australia, with Perth as its capital, has the youngest of the Jewish communities, formed in 1897. It now numbers about one thousand. Perth, being the first port of call for European boats, has absorbed a number of Jewish settlers in the past few years. It was in Western Australia also that the Australian Jewish Welfare Society planned a large-scale Jewish land settlement.

Emanuel Solomon, a South Australian pioneer and one of the earliest businessmen in the city of Adelaide, formed a commercial union of the various states long before the political federation took place. The prominent part played by the Jewish people in developing the continent of Australia has earned for them the reputation of hardworking, thrifty and loyal citizens, and in the recent sesqui-centennial celebrations ample tribute was paid them by the heads of the Australian Government. The average Australian, who is a fair-minded and understanding person, was, therefore, shocked and bewildered by existence of the violent anti-Jewish sentiment.

10 largest cities in South Australia

Showing suburb of location:

1 Adelaide - Adelaide Plains

2 Mount Gambier - Limestone Coast

3 Gawler - Adelaide Plains

4 Whyalla - Eyre Peninsula

5 Murray Bridge - Murraylands

6 Stirling-Bridgewater - Adelaide Hills

7 Mount Barker - Adelaide Hills

8 Port Lincoln - Eyre Peninsula

9 Port Pirie - Mid North

10 Port Augusta - Eyre Peninsula


Adelaide is situated north of the Fleurieu Peninsula, on the Adelaide Plains between the Gulf St Vincent and the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges which surround the city. The city stretches 20 km from the coast to the foothills and 58 to 65 minutes drive from Gawler at its northern extent to Sellicks Beach in the south. //

Named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV, the city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for a freely-settled British province in Australia. The location was originally chosen for its proximity to the River Torrens, in the area initially inhabited by the indigenous Kaurna people.

  • Kaurna culture and language was almost completely destroyed within a few decades of the European settlement of South Australia in 1836. However, extensive documentation by early missionaries and other researchers has enabled a modern revival of both language and culture.
  • Early Adelaide was shaped by prosperity and wealth. Until the Second World War it was Australia's third-largest city and one of the few Australian cities to not have convict history. Adelaide has been noted for early examples of religious freedom, a commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties.
  • It has been known as the "City of Churches" since the mid-19th century.
  • As South Australia's seat of government and commercial centre, Adelaide is the site of many governmental and financial institutions.

Most of these are concentrated in the city centre along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, King William Street and in various districts of the metropolitan area. Today, Adelaide is noted for its many festivals and sporting events, its food and wine, its long beachfronts, and its large defence and manufacturing sectors.

Jewish community

The Jewish community declined considerably in numbers after World War I but there was a subsequent increase, especially with the emigration of Jews from Egypt after the mid-1950s.// Since the 1960s the Jewish population of Adelaide has numbered about 1,200, although, unlike most other Jewish communities in Australia there has been a decline in population in recent years. In 2001, according to the Australian census, 979 persons declared themselves to be Jewish by religion. An Orthodox and a Liberal synagogue operated. There were no other organized Jewish communities in South Australia apart from Adelaide, where the South Australian Board of Deputies had its headquarters.

Much of Adelaide was bushland before British settlement, with some variation, sandhills, swamps and marshlands were prevalent around the coast. The loss of the sandhills to urban development had a particularly destructive effect on the coastline due to erosion

Adelaide and its surrounding area is one of the most seismically active regions in Australia. On 1 March 1954 at 3:40 am Adelaide experienced its largest recorded earthquake to date, with the epicentre 12 km from the city centre at Darlington, and a reported magnitude of 5.6. There have been smaller earthquakes in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

Migration museum

Who is migrating to South Australia right now? Where are migrants coming from, and why? How is migration experienced? How does government policy shape migration journeys?

These simple questions have very complex answers.

Patterns of migration to South Australia have changed significantly in the last fifteen years, the most dramatic being temporary migration overtaking permanent migration. The countries from which we draw migrants, both temporary and permanent, have changed, with India, China and the United Kingdom now our major source countries. Recent geopolitical events have impacted on Australia’s treatment and acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers.

The Migration Museum is committed to telling the stories of people who live these significant changes. Join us as we share the migration stories of some of the newest South Australians. (Exhibition concludes 27 August 2017).

Notes for adding profiles:

- Profiles of Jewish people born, lived or deceased in New South Walesshould be added to this project.

- If the state in which people resided is unknown, please add the profiles to - Jews of Australia

- Resided in Australia prior to 1901 should also be added to - The Jewish Faith in Colonial Australia 1788 to 1901

About location:

Please add people who also lived in states other than Victoria to the relevant project :

Profile bio's

- Add a link to the profile of prominent persons in the Jewish Community and a short bio on them. (Examples only (not meant to limit profiles)

- First Jewish settlers

- Significant member of Jewish society

First Fleet Convicts 26 January 1788

First Jewish Free Settler in Australia 26 January 1788

Convicts - 1818

Sir Saul Samuel - First Jew to become a magistrate, to sit in a colonial Parliament and to become a minister of the Crown. In 1854 he was appointed to the New South Wales Legislative Council and subsequently was an elected member of the Legislative Assembly. He also served periods as Treasurer and Postmaster General.

Isaac Nathan - Wrote the first Australian opera "Don John of Austria", premiered on 3 May 1847 at Royal Victoria Theatre in Sydney.

Queries, please contact Leanne M (Volunteer Curator - Australia) 🇦🇺