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|Jewish Community of Perth, Australia|
Perth is the capital and largest city in Western Australia. It is Australia's forth largest city, with a population of approximately 1.5 million. Perth was founded in 1829 as the political centre of the free settler Swan River Colony. The metropolitan area is located between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Range.
The central business district is situated on the beautiful Swan River which winds itself through Perth's suburbs. The climate in Perth is typically Mediterranean - with wet, rather mild winters and warm, dry summers and the standard of living is very high. The original Jewish settlers in Perth were largely from South Africa and tended to be very orthodox in their practices. Other Jewish groups concentrated themselves in other Australian cities like Melbourne or Sydney.
Today's Jewish Perth is a growing and vibrant community that is diverse and inclusive. The community numbers over 7,000 and there are a number of different religious congregations catering to the diverse interests, beliefs and traditions of this active community.
The oldest congregation, established over 110 years ago, is the Perth Hebrew Congregation, led by Rabbi David Freilich. The Perth Hebrew Congregation, also referred to simply as the Perth Synagogue, has more membership than all the other synagogues combined in Perth and thus caters for the vast majority of the Jewish population. They have erected an eruv making travel to and from the shul easier for the large number of orthodox families.
They have a Mikvah on site as well as a sizeable bookshop stocking a full range of Jewish texts including the Artscroll and Feldheim series. They also boast the establishment of the Ruth Landau Harp PHC Childcare Centre, the only Jewish day care available in Perth. The day care facility operates year round. Additionally, they house the Kosher Food Centre, and a mini-kosher supermarket on the premises.
The Perth Hebrew Congregation has tefillah services for Shacharit, Minchah and Mariv daily as well as Shabbat and festival worship services. They are not only an important part of the history of the Perth Jewish community. They are a vibrant and active community and very much a part of Perth's growing Jewish future.
The Dianella Shule also called The Beit Midrash of WA forms a small but significant part of the Perth Community. It is primely located opposite the Jewish Centre, the Maccabi Sports Fields and Carmel School. It is also within the eruv.
Besides the three regular minyanim daily, the shul is a hive of activity as it is the home of the Torah Mitzion Perth Yeshiva. There are four bachurim from Israel in attendance at the yeshivah where they learn with the Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Eitan Cahn, every morning.
With a strong emphasis on continuing education, they spend the afternoons and evenings in shiurim and chavrutot teaching and learning with members of the community - young and old alike. Typical of their characteristic warmth and welcoming, they are known for their Shabbat hospitality to travelers passing through Perth.
Approximately six kilometres north of the Perth Hebrew Congregation is the Northern Suburbs Hebrew Congregation in Noranda. This smaller synagogue was formed in the 1990s, mainly by South African migrants.
They house the Max and Sarah Goldman Library and on Shabbat afternoon offer a chance for participants to meet with the Rabbi to discuss and explore the weekly parsha and contemporary events.
Rabbi Brown has also served as the Rabbinic Administrator of the Conversion Programme for the Melbourne Beth Din beginning in 2004. During that period he developed a world class curriculum for the teaching of candidates.
The northern suburbs Dianella/Noranda area has also welcomed a Chabad House in recent years. This community focuses on their education centre with emphasis on outreach to the unaffiliated.
While the roots of the community were geared towards the Orthodox, Temple David in the Mount Lawley area caters to the needs of the Progressive/ Reform community of Perth.
To further support and enhance the services and education provided by these growing Synagogues, the Perth community is also home to Carmel School, the only Jewish day school in Western Australia. The school was first established in 1959 with an initial enrollment of only 11 students.
Carmel, with the growth of the Jewish community, has flourished into a top rate educational institution now providing Jewish and secular education to a student body of over 600 children. Education is offered from Kindergarten through Year 12.
The school takes great pride in living by its motto, Emunah at (Faith and Knowledge). They are a modern Orthodox programme designed to educate children in religious subjects and Jewish tradition, Zionism and secular subjects as well.
Their beautiful campus and facilities are located between Woodrow Avenue and Cresswell Road in Dianella, in close proximity to the Jewish Centre, The Maurice Zeffert Centre for the Aged and the Maccabi Sporting facilities.
While looking towards the youth and the future, the community also provides a number of comprehensive services to its older members. The Perth Jewish Aged Home Society (Inc) which was founded in 1959 is a registered incorporated Society. Any person can become a member by paying a small annual fee.
The original Maurice Zeffert Nursing Home was opened in 1961. A meals on wheels kosher meal service, run by the Maurice Zeffert Nursing Home, also provides meals to elderly persons requiring a bit of extra assistance.
Kashrut standards for the entire community are maintained through the registration of kosher products on a certified kashrut list rather than with a Beth Din stamp. Most products in Perth are checked through the Sydney or Melbourne Kashrut authorities. The local kashrut authority is the Kashrut Authority of Western Australia that investigates and supervises local products. They offer other services including: information provision, home kashering, and caterer certification.
There are two kosher butchers and a couple of kosher bakeries and supermarkets which sell a wide range of fresh and prepared products.
Catering outlets under the supervision of the Kashrut Authority of Western Australia cater for private functions at a variety of venues. One of these catering outlets runs a full time kosher catering kitchen from the premises of the Jewish Centre in the heart of the Jewish suburbs.
The Rabbis in Perth have a joint Council known as C.O.R.E. (The Council of Orthodox Rabbis & Educators). C.O.R.E. provides the entire community with programmes of shiurim and it is the forum at which Rabbinic policy of the community is determined.
The Jewish Centre is also a clear focal point of Jewish communal life in Perth as it is home to many organisations providing activities and services for Jewish people of all ages and backgrounds.
The Western Australia Maccabi provides a number of sporting programmes for all ages and also coordinated a number of social programmes as well. Under the Maccabi banner sporting clubs such as soccer, cricket, tennis, netball and basketball operate.
Other groups and organisations including WIZO, National Council of Jewish Women, Holocaust Institute of WA, and United Israel Appeal run programming on a regular basis.
Also based in the Jewish Centre is the Community Shaliach from Israel that further enriches the totality of the Jewish experience in Perth by organising a wide variety of cultural, educational and social activities. The Shaliach works closely with Perth's youth groups, including Habonim Dror and Bnei Akiva.
Jewish life in Perth is extensive, warm and embracing. As large as it continues to grow, the characteristic sense of coming home that this community has founded, continues to grow as well.
Perth Hebrew Congregation