A small group of Jews arrived in South Australia from 1836 as free settlers from England during the earliest years of settlement of South Australia. In the early years, religious duties were carried out by laymen but questions of significant issues had to be sent to England to the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. During the 1840s, prayer services were held at Burnett Nathan's home in Currie Street. On 10 September 1848, 44 Jewish men met at Emanuel Solomon's Temple Tavern and agreed to form the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation and build a synagogue. A Synagogue, in the Egyptian style of other early Australian synagogues, was built in Rundle Street and opened on 9 August 1850.

The synagogue customs were based on the those of Duke's Place synagogue of London from the 1800's from which many original pioneers came. We still maintain these customs such as the prayer for the Queen and Leaders of the Nation, honouring the chatan Torah and chatan Bereishit with a canopy parade on Simchat Torah, and pledging to charity during an aliyah to the Torah. The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth is based in London, as is the London Beth Din.

The congregation outgrew the premises and in 1870, a foundation stone was laid for a larger adjacent Synagogue. In 1870 Reverend Boas was appointed as the first Minister. He served for 48 years, traveling long distances to visit members of his faith throughout South Australia.

In 1989 the congregation built a new Synagogue in Glenside after 140 years of worship at Rundle Street. At that time the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation synagogue was the longest continuously used synagogue in the southern hemisphere.

On 7 June 1990 inaugural services were held in the new Synagogue. In 1998, the 150th anniversary dinner was celebrated.

Pictures from an exhibition

The following material about our history was part of a display prepared by the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation archivist for a Jewish community exhibition at the South Australian Migration Museum. All the original exhibition panels are held at the congregation and some are on display.

The Synagogue in Rundle Street, north side, 1870's. Original Adelaide Synagogue completed 1850 (on right). Replacement larger Synagogue completed 1870 (on left).

Judah Moss Solomon, first President.

Reverend Abraham Tobias Boas, first Minister, who served from 1870-1918.

The house of Isaac Solomon at Kent Terrace, Kent Town c. 1872. Rabbi Boas stands at the gate with his fiance, Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac.

Rabbi and Mrs Boas with their 9 children, c. 1894.

Boas residence "Kandalah" in Gover Street, North Adelaide, known as "Liberty Hall". The house still stands.

A page from the diary of Rabbi Boas covering the months of October to December 1898, listing the number of duties he performed in those months.  Prison visits, funeral and wedding visits etc.

The entrance from Synagogue Place in 1895.

Children dress up for Purim 1955.

Rabbi Tuvia Rafalowicz (right) at his induction in 1963; Rabbi Dr Israel Porush of Sydney (left) and Rev. Abraham Berman, second Minister (center).

Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn at his induction in 1982.

Exterior of the new Synagogue at Glenside.

Stained glass windows.

Traditional Jewish wedding in the new Synagogue 1991.