Perth, Australia


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Focus of Jewish life

THE Brisbane Street Synagogue stood on Brisbane Street in Perth from 1897 until it was demolished in the 1980s. It was home to the Perth Hebrew Congregation for almost 80 years, before they moved north to their present home in Menora in the 1970s.

The Perth Hebrew Congregation formed in 1892 at a time when gold discoveries were attracting more immigrants to Western Australia.

While there had been small Jewish communities in Fremantle and the Goldfields from earlier colonial times, at the turn of the 20th century Perth became the focus of Jewish life in Western Australia with the Brisbane Street Synagogue at its core.

The synagogue was built on land granted by the Lands Department on an acre block just east of the corner of William and Brisbane Streets, near the Perth Mosque.

Buildings on the site, which ran between Brisbane Street and Robinson Avenue, consisted of a brick and stone synagogue that could accommodate 300 worshippers, the manse, a community hall (Princes Hall) and five semi-detached cottages at the southern end of the block.

Photo 1906

Fremantle Shul

Sue Fury

May 25  ·

WA’s first purpose-built synagogue is on the brink of yet another makeover.

The 117-year-old Fremantle building operated as a synagogue for only eight years and has since been an immigration centre, an auction mart, a carpet shop, a clothing outlet, a gallery and a cafe.

The synagogue was built in 1902 when the Fremantle Jewish congregation had peaked at about 60. The foundation stone was laid by Elias Solomon, a member of the congregation, a former Fremantle mayor and Federal MP.

But as the Jewish community expanded in Perth, there was a gradual shift in the congregation from Fremantle. With declining numbers, the synagogue closed in 1910.

It was bought by auctioneer Bill Beer, who built shops along the site’s South Terrace frontage. In the 1960s it was leased to carpet dealer Barri’s Rugs. In the 1980s it was a Skid Rose clothing outlet and in the 1990s it was a cafe restaurant.

In 1976, the Perth Hebrew Congregation sought permission to remove the Star of David from its front gable so that it could be incorporated in a new synagogue in Menora.

The Fremantle council decided the original star should be left on the building and offered a replica.