Prominent Australians of Jewish Ancestry Include:

Esther Abrahams (1771 -1846) convict and early colonist. Born in London, transported to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788, married George Johnston who was briefly governor of the colony after leading the Rum Rebellion. She was an able administrator of their estates.

Isaac Nathan (c1792-1864) “the father of Australian music”. Born in England, migrated to Australia in 1841.Wrote, composed and produced Don John of Austria, Australia’s first opera with libretto by Jacob Levi Montefiore. First person to research and transcribe Indigenous Australian music.

Barnett Levy (1798 – 1837) merchant and theatre director. Born in London, the first free Jewish Australian settler arrived in Sydney in 1821to join his brother Solomon, an emancipist. Opened a store in George Street, sold not only the usual goods and spirits but also books Established one of the first lending libraries and also the first legitimate theatre in NSW, the Theatre Royal, in 1833. An idealist who sacrificed his fortune and health attempting to bring the arts to the new colony.

Lionel Samson (1799-1878) pioneer, politician and merchant. Born in England, educated at Oxford University. Arrived in Fremantle in 1829, started firm, Lionel Samson & Son, the oldest continuing family business in Australia. Served as postmaster-general, a member of the Freemantle Town Trust and a nominee in the Western Australian Legislative Council in 1849-56 and 1859-68. His grandson, Frederick Samson was mayor of Freemantle from 1951 to 1972.

Joseph Barrow Montefiore (1803-1893) merchant and financier. Born in London, first arrived in Sydney in 1829 with his wife and two children, acquired over five thousand acres of land, first president of the first Jewish congregation formed in Sydney in 1832, brother of Jacob Montefiore with whom he founded the Bank of Australasia. Returned to London. Arrived in Adelaide in 1846 with his wife, eleven children, a harp, a piano and 300 packages. He invested in copper mines, served on the board of various companies, was an original trustee of the Savings Bank and a leading member of the Chamber of Commerce. Returned finally to London in 1860.

Sir Isaac Isaacs GCB GCMG QC (1855-1948) pupil-teacher, barrister, politician, judge and governor-general. Born in Melbourne of Polish English heritage, the first Australian born Governor-General (1931 – 1936) and the first Jewish vice-regal representative in the British Empire.

Sir Julian Emanuel Salomons (1836 – 1909) NSW barrister, solicitor-general, chief justice and member of parliament. Born in Birmingham, arrived in Sydney in 1853.

Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD (1865 – 1931) soldier, engineer and administrator. Born in Melbourne of German Polish heritage. The family lived in Jerilderie for some years. Monash claimed to have met the bushranger Ned Kelly during his raid there in 1979. Studied arts, engineering and law at the University of Melbourne, involved in student politics, being a co-founder of the Melbourne University Union. Commanded Australian troops in World War I at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Monash University in Melbourne was named after him in 1958.

Sidney Myer (1878-1934) businessman and philanthropist. Born in Kritchev, Russia, came to Melbourne as a refugee aged 20. Worked as a labourer, then with his brother hawked haberdashery on foot in the Victorian goldfields. Opened a store in Bendigo in 1900, the beginning of the Myer retail empire. During his lifetime donated about $160 million to charities and community. Philanthropy continues with the Myer Foundation.

Rabbi Sir Israel Brodie KBE (1895 – 1979) served as rabbi of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation in the 1930s. Was evacuated from Dunkirk and became Senior Jewish Chaplain for the British Forces. Appointed Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth.

Maurice Ashkanasy (1901-1971) barrister and Jewish community leader. Born in London, his father from Palestine and his mother from Russia. Came to Melbourne with his family aged 9.

Sydney Einfeld (1909 – 1995) Federal and NSW Labor politician, Jewish community leader particularly dedicated to the welfare of newly arrived immigrants and refugees.

Georges Mora (1913-1992) entrepreneur, art dealer, patron and connoisseur, and restaurateur. Fled Germany to Paris in 1930, married Mirka. Arrived in Melbourne in 1971 he was a catalyst in the Melbourne art scene, pivotal in the re-establishment of the Museum of Modern Art, and a strong voice on issues around multiculturalism.

Samuel Wolf Cohen (1915-1986) educator. Born in Sydney, third generation Australian to a family originally from Poland. Studied at Sydney University then became a school teacher. Attained PhD at London University. Returned to Sydney, became a school inspector then Vice-Principal of Sydney Teachers’ College before becoming Director of Advisory Services at Sydney University. Fulbright Scholar. First Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic) of Macquarie University, where he set up the university’s revolutionary academic structure, including Australia’s first four-year integrated BA Dip Ed program. Australian government advisor to South East Asian nations on the establishment of their own university systems. Devoted family man, active member of Newtown Synagogue, life-long scholar.

Richard Pratt (1934 – 2009) footballer, actor, businessman and philanthropist. Came to Melbourne from Poland with his parents as a four year old. Played Australian Rules Football for Carlton U19s, toured London and New York with a production of Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, expanded his father’s business to multinational Visy Industries, pioneered industrial environmentalism, founded Pratt Foundation, a leading Australian philanthropic trust.

Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC academic lawyer and Governor General. Born in Melbourne, Rhodes Scholar, served in naval intelligence during World War II, based in Darwin during the Japanese attack of 1942. Governor-General of Australia 1977 – 1982.

Smorgon Family industrialists and philanthropists. Escaping anti-semitism in Russia three brothers Norman, Moses and Abram Smorgon and their families arrived in Melbourne in 1927. From a kosher butcher shop in Carlton grew the Smorgon Consolidated Industries Group, Australia’s wealthiest family. Generous philanthropy in medicine and the arts.

Mirka Mora prominent artist. Born in France, arrived in Melbourne in 1951 with her husband Georges and baby son. In 1998, the Lord Mayor and councillors of the City of Melbourne awarded her the title of Honoured Artist ‘in recognition of her lifelong achievement in the arts which has made an outstanding contribution to the life of this city’.

Frank Lowy AC Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, fought in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, migrated to Australia in 1952, started out as a truck driver, became a businessman, developing his shopping centres, the Westfield Group, in Australia and the United States.

Ernie Friedlander OAM Hungarian ghetto survivor, Chairman, Education Task Force, Alfred Dreyfus Anti Defamation Unit of B’nai B’rith, President of Moving Forward Together Association, experienced extreme racism and discrimination in his youth, now a tireless worker for an Australian society free of prejudice, based on respect and understanding and the celebration of diversity.

Harry Triguboff AO property developer and philanthropist. Born in Teintsin in China of Russian heritage. Began his career in Sydney in 1963 and his company, Meriton, has become the largest residential property developer in Australia.

Dr Michael Friedlander, conjoint Professor of Medicine at the University of NSW, Director of Medical Oncology at the Prince of
Wales Hospital in Sydney and consultant medical oncologist to the Gynaecological Cancer Centre, Royal Hospital for Women.

Mahla Pearlman AM Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court (1992 – 2003) the first woman chief judge in any state jurisdiction in Australia, first woman President of the Law Society of New South Wales (1981-1982), first woman President of the Law Council of Australia (1989-1990), Deputy Secretary-General of the International Bar Association (1988-1992), Chairman of the Board of Governors of the College of Law (1983-1988), Chairman of Guardian Trust Australia Limited (1991-1992) and Member of the Police Board of New South Wales (1991-1992). Born in Australia.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of Jewish House, an organization offering instant refuge to any members of the community who is in desperate need of help. Set up Point Zero Youth Services providing a Drug and Alcohol Outreach service run in collaboration with schools, community groups and parents around issues specific to young people.

Jim Spigelman AC Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW. Born in Poland, his family migrated to Australia in 1949. Educated at Sydney Boys High School and University of Sydney, receiving the University Medal in law. Participated in the 1965 Freedom Ride a student initiative to highlight the discrimination suffered by Indigenous Australians. Became senior adviser and principal private secretary to the prime minister, Gough Whitlam. Appointed Queen’s Counsel, served as Solicitor-General of NSW in 1997, appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW and Lieutenant Governor of NSW, in 1998.

Vic Alhadeff journalist and CEO NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, advocate for social harmony and social inclusion building bridges to combat antisemitism and all other forms of racism. Born in Zimbabwe.

Rabbi Zalman Kastel, director of Together for humanity an Australian multi-faith organisation including Muslims, Christians, Jewish and Indigenous people that fights prejudice with respect and knowledge learning together for the benefit of all humanity.