Sydcy (Aug. 1)
Intermariage, Proselytism and Immigration, Australian Problems L (By our Sydney Correspondent)
The vigorous Jewish life in the Australian States having hitherto been on a comparatively small scale, and the majority of the settlers having come from England and brought with them the tradition of the centralized and watchfully efficient British Jewry, the view of that majority has generally problems.
Prominent among those has been the question of mixed marring, an almost inevitable outcome, until the present generation, from the overwhelming maslier years, the reception of proselytes for marriage. purpose by self-appointed practitioners basis, led to such scandals that some congregations set their faces against any reception of proselytes at all. Certain legal difficulties also ensued from the circumstance that in Australia cemeteries are usually State property, the portions allotted to the various communities under regulations of the Legislature.
The establishment of a recognized Beth Din, first in Melbourne, then in Sydney and in Perth, by ordained Rabbis in office with recognized congregations, regularized the position, and by the consequent responsible discrimination abated both scandal and legal difficulty. Attempts to reintroduce a traffic, by unqualified persons in the financial interest of minor “congregations,” have from time to time, however, been disclosed, and sever a such in a Melbourne suburb led to an upheaval of protest.
The Beth Din representing the three long-established congregations of that city. which work together in all matters except liturgy, under a united Advisory Roard, took the prompt action of citing before it the minister and the president of the offending new “congregation”; and the support of public opinion led to the eventual withdrawal of the preposterous chime that any self-constituted Jewish association, even in a city where a Court of ordained Rabbis is in session, may indiscriminately offer formal admission into the fold of Israel for a’ fee.
The mission to the Commonwealth of Mr. S. Y. Jacobi, representing the Hicem, is likely to mark a turning point in the local outlook towards the European Jewish problem.
Jewish immigration, though constant, has been so controlled by the Government regulations, that it has been largely of a nominal character, and not beyond the capacity of the local communities to absorb. First Melbourne, then Sydney, have latterly had their existing organization almost swamped, chiefly by unsure
cessful settlers in Palestine, who reach Australia by the cheaper foreign steamers from Port Said.
The difficulty of placing unskilled labor, already serious under the prevailing trade-union domination, and the obligation of paying the substantial “basic wage” even to the unfit, has been augmented by the almost entire absence of Yiddish-speaking employers, and the absolute need for the English language in every line of activity. Only in Perth, of all Australian cities, was this question of language not an insurmountable obstacle to absorption, and even there the power of reception has been over tasked.
Melbourne Jewry has made an effort to establish fruit-growing and other field colonies, which have met with success in the few cases where suitable candidates could be selected. But without adequate previous training even this settlement work cannot proceed future.
The Australian Jews, only twenty-five thousand in all, have liberally contributed sine the War commenced, but are now suspecting that the dole system has proved wasteful and demoralizing.
Mr. Jacobi’s visit is not only turning their attention to the greater promise in preventive activities, but is also sounding an awakening note, welcome to the thoughtful here and long overdue from the quite uncoordinated and even rival schemes prompted only by pity, can effectively relieve either the growing local distress or the wider problem of Eastern European Jewish necessity.