Story: Jews

Page 3. Communal life

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Organised Jewish life

The New Zealand Jewish community, although small, has offered its members the full range of facilities and services required of organised Jewish life. This includes the building of synagogues and the employment of rabbis, who have to be recruited from overseas. In the different communities there has been established a chevra kadisha – a society to assist with burials – and land has been consecrated for Jewish burial grounds. There is provision for a mikveh (ritual bath), arrangements for brit milah (ritual circumcision for infant boys), and for the conduct of Jewish weddings. There are facilities for Jewish education, such as Hebrew schools for young children. Kosher meat and other food products can be bought. Philanthropic societies assist new arrivals and the poor, and there are places for the care of elderly members of the community.

Social groups

Jewish social groups, including sports teams and women’s organisations, have also played an important role in the maintenance of Jewish life in New Zealand. Increased emphasis has been given to Jewish education, with the establishment of Jewish day schools (Kadimah College in Auckland, in 1971, and Moriah College in Wellington, in 1986) as well as kindergartens and preschool groups. The community has for a long time also had its own publications, with the nationwide newspaper The New Zealand Jewish Chronicle augmenting congregational newsletters.

The Jewish community in New Zealand has been organised along orthodox lines, with the chief rabbi of the Commonwealth – formerly the Empire – being the titular head. During the 1950s non-orthodox congregations were also established in Auckland and Wellington. They are affiliated to the worldwide progressive Jewish movement.

How to cite this page:

Stephen Levine, 'Jews - Communal life', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 June 2024)

Story by Stephen Levine, published 8 Feb 2005