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Oldest Active Jewish Congregation in Australia Celebrates 90th Anniversary

The oldest active Jewish congregation in Australia marked its 90th anniversary here with thanksgiving services at the Great Synagogue and at a banquet at which former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies and Dame Pattie Menzies were the guests of honor. More than 1,000 worshippers heard Rabbi Israel Porush, the Great Synagogue’s Jerusalem-born Chief Rabbi, recall the saga of the first Jewish pioneers to settle in Australia 180 years ago. They also heard an address by Lord Casey, the Governor-General, who recalled his participation in the military campaign that liberated Palestine from Turkish rule in the 1914-18 war. Lord Casey paid tribute to Jewish achievements and added, “your race has known great persecution over much of your long history but through it you have preserved your identity and your courage and spirit.”

Rabbi Porush noted that the first Jewish colonists in Australia were too few in numbers and too poor to organize collective religious life. But in 1831, when economic conditions improved and more Jews arrived, the first congregation was organized, the progenitor of the present Great Synagogue.

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