The Great Synagogue is in Sydney, accessible on 166 Castlereagh Street. It houses the small A.M. Rosenblum Jewish Museum in the basement. Tours are available every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. Services are at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 8:45 A.M. Saturday. The architect of this particular place of worship and meeting was not a Jew, but had studied such buildings elsewhere. He went with a Byzantine/French Gothic look, and consulted Liberace for the interior. The Synagogue was consecrated in 1878. One of its odd features is the placing of the bimah
, where the Torah is read, in the back instead of the center. I presume that this is to fit in more people.
(Would it kill you, some history?)
There were 16 Jewish convicts that arrived in Sydney Cove with the First Fleet in 26 January 1788. Out of 145,000 convicts transported to Australia between 1788 and 1852, 1000 were Jewish. Most were working-class migrants from London. Between 1820-35, there was the first informal gathering of Jews as well the arrival of the first Rabbi.
The discovery of gold in Australia led to the first major influx of non-British Europeans, including Jews, 75% of who were from Germany. Another wave came in to Australia around 1881, when Tsar Alexander began to sponsor pogroms in Russia. Then, during World War I, intensely Jewish immigrants came from Eastern Europe, clashed with the assimilated Anglo-Jewish community, and established their own institutions.
During the second World War, there was a strict quota system in Australia for alien immigration, owing mainly to the Depression. The Evian Conference of 1938 led to Australia increasing their quota (of designer water! Sorry...).
Since 1967, Jewish immigration to Australia has increased from South Africa, Israel, and Russia. There is said to be (at least) 100,000 Jews in Australia and 40,000 in Sydney. The Great Synagogue is Orthodox, one of 26 synagogues in Sydney, and has security that rivals any airport.