Seven Waves of Migration

Eat, Pray, Naches captures the stories and contributions of an extremely diverse and complex community. The Jewish community in the Eastern Suburbs is a melting pot of various cultures and communities who all migrated to Australia in search of the same freedoms and opportunities.

In the 40 years being considered, between 1946 and 1986, seven waves of migration rolled onto the beaches of Bondi and the Waverley area. Each wave rolling in at different times at a variety of speeds often coinciding and blending together.

Img seven waves
Portrait ryvchin

“The Jewish community has had a major influence, I would say, on the area. The community, I mean it's a very diverse community. So you have Jews that have come post-war from Hungary, Holocaust survivors, from Austria and Hungary and from Czechoslovakia. Then you have the newer migrants, the South Africans, that came later. Then finally the Russians, the Soviets, that came more recently in my wave of migration. And they all come with their own ideologies, their own histories, their own cultures, their own ways of dealing with the world around them. It's greatly enriched the area.”

Alex Rvychin, Kiev, Soviet Union, migrated in 1988

Supporting Jewish Migrants

In general it was participant’s families who sponsored a majority of Jewish migrants. Upon arrival Jewish welfare organisations such as the Australian Jewish Welfare Society played a critical role in assisting new migrants through their period of adjustment and transition into a new society. It became clear through the accounts that this large network of Jewish welfare organisations became invaluable as they banded together to provide new migrants basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.

Portrait kastel

“I think the Jewish community is a big part of the local area, both in the sense of some of the outreach and community activities that it does to the wider community, as well as bringing the Jewish culture to the area. Jewish culture would be quite vast as the different communities have come from different parts of the world, and then they've brought with them their local cultures, whether being from Poland, or whether being from Russia or from South Africa or from New York. Bringing all those cultures to Australia as well as the Jewish flavour to that has really made this area quite spectacular.”

Rabbi Kastel, New York, migrated in 1988

Each wave of migration had their own language and cultural traditions that were unique to their country of origin and through the process of chain migration most settled in the Eastern Suburbs. This was an attractive area for Jewish migrants due to the network of established synagogues, Jewish schools, clubs and businesses already in the Waverley area. The Eastern Suburbs in general, and Bondi in particular, therefore became a melting pot of communities unified by a common Jewish culture.

Announcements in the Australian Jewish News

Jewish Diversity in Waverley

Jewish migrants have come to Waverley from Europe, Egypt, the Middle East, China, the former Soviet Union, Israel, and South Africa. The seven waves of migration are all represented by individual participants, in an effort to convey the diversity of migration.

Each wave faced its own challenges and obstacles. For example, in 1945, after the end of WWII, opportunities for immigration were controlled by Australia’s newly established Department of Immigration and restrictions, such as boat quotas allowing only 25% of passengers to be Jewish, severely restricted migration opportunities.

Img census new

Data compiled from 2011 Census
South Africa2,16820.5%Germany900.85%
Russian Federation2151.5%China520.87%
Portrait havas

“Having arrived, we were very welcome by the Sydney Jewish community and particularly, and I must say by Syd Einfeld who I think was just the most remarkable man. The Jewish Welfare Society gave us 50 pounds and they got us accommodation.”

Andrew Havas, Budapest Hungary arrived in 1957

Journey to Australia

While some migrants enjoyed their journeys and stopovers, many found the conditions on board challenging. Some of the boats had been converted from ex-WW2 troop ships and were often described as ‘rust buckets’. They had been hastily converted to provide very basic accommodation and often the food was inedible or alien to the European passengers. Below are photos of some of our participants who made their journey to Australia by sea.