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Most Jews in Sydney were from Western and Central Europe, and were largely secular.

The condition of the Jewish community improved to such an extent that in 1844 the first synagogue was formed in York Street, Sydney using rented space, which continued in use for more than thirty years.

The 1841 census shows that New South Wales Jewry accounted for 65.3% of the total Australian Jewish population, and 0.57% of the total Australian population.

The average age of the Jewish convicts was 25, but ranged as young as 8 to some elderly people.

At first, the Church of England was the established religion in the colony, and during the early years of transportation all convicts were required to attend Anglican services on Sundays. Similarly, education in the new settlement was Anglican church-controlled until the 1840s. William Cowper allotted land for the establishment of a Jewish cemetery in the right-hand corner of the then-Christian cemetery.

Initially, they settled in rural areas, but by the end of the 19th century the lack of Jewish communal connections and fear of assimilation led most Australian Jews in rural areas to relocate to the Jewish centres in cities.

As a result, the rapidly growing community in Sydney needed larger facilities, and built the Great Synagogue, located on Elizabeth Street, opposite Hyde Park, which was consecrated in 1878.Rabbi John Simon Levi, co-author of Australian Genesis: Jewish Convicts and Settlers, 1788-1850 (1974), has authored the magisterial biographical directory These Are The Names: Jewish Lives in Australia, 1788-1860 (2013).The Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal (started 1939) appears twice a year, published in Sydney and Melbourne respectively.(An answer to the question on the census was optional.) The majority are Ashkenazi Jews, many of them refugees and Holocaust survivors who arrived during and after World War II, and their descendants.Jewish citizens make up about 0.5% of the Australian population.There were probably more, but exact numbers are not possible as the transportation records did not indicate a convict's religion.

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