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14 Pages

Intermarriage among Jewish Australians

ByGary Eckstein

The history of Australian Jewry begins with the arrival of the first British convict settlement in 1788. Most Jewish settlers to Australia until well into the twentieth century came from Britain, although some German and Eastern European immigrants arrived following the discovery of gold and the intensification of anti-Semitism in their home countries. However, by the turn of the twentieth century, the majority of Jewish Australians had been born in Australia and had formed a progressive and assimilated community within the broad stream of Australian life. The problem of intermarriage was raised as early as 1920 when it was observed that despite continuing if limited immigration, the population appeared to be experiencing only marginal growth while the Australian population as a whole was enjoying a period of robust expansion. For the planning of Jewish services and to report on intermarriage, it has been considered prudent to restrict the potential client base to people who regard themselves as Jewish.