Australia’s Jewish community of about 125,000 has a high proportion of Jewish students at Jewish day schools, and proportionally the highest concentration of Holocaust survivors in the world. The post-World War II Australian immigration intake of Jews led to the burgeoning of synagogues and a revitalisation of the Australian Jewish community. Jews are prominent in the Australian arts and legal and medical professions. There are about forty synagogues in the Jewish communities of Sydney and Melbourne. In addition to many Orthodox Jewish congregations, the Australian Jewish community includes a strong Progressive Judaism movement. Anti-Semitism is a continuing issue for Jewish leaders.
Catholics and Anglicans make up about 50% of religious groups in Australia, according to the 2011 Census. Protestants constitute around 10% of the population, a considerably smaller proportion than in the USA. While anti-Semitism has not been a prominent feature of Australian society, mainly due to Australia’s egalitarian culture and a stable and healthy multicultural milieu, more needs to be done to increase understanding of Jews and Judaism among Christians. The slow work of building relations between Jews and Christians, the support of dialogue by individual Christian leaders, the current theological recognition of the Jewish background of the New Testament documents, and the acceptance of rabbinic input into courses at some theological colleges, have had a significant and helpful impact.
Actively working groups in Jewish Christian relations in Australia include the Councils of Christians and Jews in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory, as well as the New South Wales Catholic Ecumenical Affairs Commission, the Victorian Council of Churches’ Commission on Interfaith and Community Relations, the Uniting Church of Australia Working Group on Jewish-Christian Relations, the Ecumenical Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Melbourne, and Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia.
The Councils of Christians and Jews in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, conduct regular public functions and events. In Brisbane, work is continuing on the establishment of a Council of Christians and Jews.
For more information, please go the Events and Resources pages.