‘You feel more of an obligation to assert your identity’: How the Jews of Tasmania are slowly growing their community

Jeff Schneider, left, with Amir Maimon, Israel's ambassador to Australia, at Hobart Synagogue on the island of Tasmania. (Supplied photo)

Baltimore is more than 16,000 km away from Hobart, the biggest city on the Australian island of Tasmania. It’s quite a distance—and one happily travelled by Jeff Schneider, the current president of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation, who worship out of Australia’s oldest synagogue.

But if you’d told a young Schneider he’d one day be president of a synagogue in Tasmania, he wouldn’t have believed you. While the former penal colony island is now a pleasant home to more than half a million people, just 376 of them are Jewish, down from the community’s peak of 454 in the 1850s. As Schneider learned when he moved to Tasmania and began raising a young family, the island’s Jews feel obligated to practice their faith, continue their traditions and share their stories—which Schneider does here on today’s episode of Yehupetzville.


Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.