South African Jewish Immigrants Still Struggling to be Accepted in Australia

A $5 million synagogue was officially opened in Melbourne on the final day of Hanukkah last month, believed to be the first in Australia built by South African immigrants largely for South Africans.

In Sydney, however, there were no celebrations last month when a tortuous six-year saga came to an end after a court dismissed an appeal to allow an eruv to be erected in the Harbor City’s north shore, where thousands of South African émigrés settled in the 1970s and 1980s, attracted by leafy suburbs, larger plots of land, cheaper real estate and a life free from the racist policies of successive governments in Pretoria since 1948.

The Melbourne story seems to confirm how the mass influx of more than 15,000 South African Jews in Australia has “enriched” Jewish life Down Under, as veteran historian Suzanne Rutland put it in her 2005 book “The Jews in Australia.”

But the venomous reactions triggered by the Sydney story are perhaps a reminder that the South African Jewish Immigrants Still Struggling experience here in the 21st century is sometimes bittersweet.


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