Why do They Prefer Kosher
Culture & Kosher
Australia's Kosher population [120,000-150,000] prefer to eat Kosher.
Broadly speaking, the Jewish population can be described as falling into three categories:
A] Those who attend Synagogue prayer services thrice daily; morning, afternoon and evening.
B] Those who attend Synagogue prayer services weekly; for the Sabbath service.
C] Those who attend Synagogue thrice yearly; for the Festival services.
Unsurprisingly, these groups do not pray in the same Synagogues, and maintain significant differences in customs that to some extent, isolate them from one another.
Categories A and B are generally described as ultra-orthodox, and comprise no more than 4-5% of the Jewish population. They view following the guidelines of Kosher as a religious duty and are determined to remain loyal to their religious principles. They would rather not eat at all than eat any foods that are not Kosher.
Category A, those who attend Synagogue prayer services thrice daily, being extremely vigilant, would not eat any foods that carried even the slightest suspicion of being not Kosher. Furthermore, their customs for Kosher are intense and they form their own Kosher councils and agencies to advise and certify foods that meet their practices and traditions.
The vast majority however, are attracted to Kosher as a cultural and traditional value. This culture and tradition is dearly loved, cherished, honoured and is a focus and major component of their identity.
In these homes, Jewish icons and religious symbols are proudly displayed in prominent locations. We may categorise them as those who attend Synagogue thrice yearly.
They do not see themselves as practising orthodox homes and families but identify with orthodox Jewish practice.
It is perfectly normal in such families to keep a Kosher home yet they are comfortable eating in non-Kosher restaurants and eateries. Not to say they eat pork and bacon - but they finer aspects of the Jewish ritual law that governs Kosher does not particularly weigh on their minds.
The Haaretz Israeli News estimated a Jewish-Australian population of 120,000-150,000
The first Jews to come to Australia were eight English convicts transported to Botany Bay in 1788 aboard the First Fleet.
It is estimated that of those who arrived by 1845 about 800 were Jewish. Most of them came from London, were of working-class background and were male.
During the early years, the Church of England was the official and only religion; all convicts, including Irish Catholics and Jews, were compelled to attend Anglican services on Sundays and all education was controlled by the Anglican church. This continued until the 1840s.
Nevertheless, in Sydney in 1817 a Chevra Kadisha (a Jewish burial society) was formed but allocation of land for a Jewish cemetery was not approved until 1832. The first Jewish wedding in Australia was celebrated in 1830, between Moses Joseph and Rosetta Nathan.
Most Australian Jews have a strong Jewish identity, even if this does not necessarily express itself in religious observance. In a recent survey, 58% of Melbourne Jews identified their Jewish identity as being 'very important,' against a mere 2% who feel that it is 'not important at all.'
There are three main streams of Judaism active in Australia: Orthodox (Modern and ultra-orthodox), Conservative and Reform. - 6% of Jews identify themselves as 'strictly orthodox'
- 33% as 'traditionally religious'
- 15% as 'Liberal or Reform'
- 43% consider themselves as 'Jewish but not religious,'
- 1% as 'opposed to religion' altogether.
Yet, many of the Jews who consider themselves 'Jewish but not religious' still send their children to orthodox Jewish day schools or are members of orthodox synagogues.
According to Suzanne Rutland, 'most Australian Jews can be best described as non-practicing orthodox.'
There are at least 19 Jewish day schools in Australia and although Jewish day schools are far more expensive than the government/state schools, it is estimated that in Melbourne between 70% and 75% of all Jewish students attend a Jewish school. In Sydney, this figure is 62%.