Welcome to New Zealand






New Zealand Jews


New Zealand Jews

New Zealand Jewish Bread

Since the pioneer days of settlement by Europeans in the early 19th century, New Zealand has had communities of Jews in the country.

A substantial number came during the days of the gold rush and were mostly found in the South Island’s West Coast.

Russian and polish Jews arrived in 1890 to escape the oppressive leadership of the Tsar.

Then, just before World War II, approximately a thousand Jewish refugees migrated to New Zealand from Central Europe.


In Wellington, approximately 500 came. Succeeding small instances of settlement were connected with the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the efforts of the Hebrew Immigration Assistance Society (HIAS) to transport Jews into the country from what had once been the Soviet Union.

Very recently there have arrivals in small groups from South Africa, most of which made there home in Auckland. In recent times, a large group of Israelis have also migrated here.

The biggest concentration of the Jewish population is in Auckland, New Zealand.

This city’s population of over a million and is the largest city in New Zealand.

The total population of New Zealand is just over four million. lthough it is hard to come up with a good estimate, it is believed that there are a significant number of Jews all over New Zealand who are not associated with any congregation and are not participants in Jewish organized activities. There has been a large number of integration, unavoidable in a small community that has been displaced.
The first reformist New Zealand Jewish Congregation was founded in Auckland in 1956. Fro decades, at the heart of the Jewish Community was a very traditional Orthodox Congregation.


It was a very secular community, and a large number had long given up on the observance of strict orthodox practices.

The community had furthermore lost several members, some because of inter-marriage, and others because of disillusion with the absence of ritual change which had become increasingly irrelevant with the passage of time. Change or conversion would not even be entertained by the Rabbis.

On top of everything else, the orthodox congregation had become caught up in an extremely public case in court involving its attempt to dismiss its Rabbi at the time.

This was the situation when the president of Auckland made a decision to test the awareness by calling a public meeting to be tackled by John Levi, a young student born in Melbourne in his final year before his ordination as a Rabbi.

New Zealand Jews

He, in his turn, got in touch with Karo Emanuel, who, with the help of David, his son, and Susanne, his daughter-in-law, went into the business of arranging the meeting.


The meeting was a disaster. First, the orthodox community attacked the club for approving the use of the Clubrooms, so the event was held in the Savage Club. The media were mesmerized. Judaism was currently a matter of interest because of the controversy concerning the attempted ousting of the orthodox Rabbi, so there was a large amount of hullabaloo regarding the new congregation, which actually worked in their favor since there were no funds for advertising.



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