The Great Synagogue is an outstanding landmark in Sydney, thanks to its rich historical heritage and grandiose structure. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, The Synagogue is of great significance in both religious and cultural circles.
The Great Synagogue has not only stood at its present site since 1878 but also takes pride in the fact that its congregation dates back to the 1820s. In earlier years, circa 1788, the state of New South Wales was established as a penal colony.
Great Synagogue Sydney, Tours, Rabbi, History, Address & Service Times
Of its initial First Fleet Convicts, a dozen of them were Jewish. One of these, Joseph Levy, passed away and became the first Jew to be buried, not just in Sydney, but across Australia.
In the years that followed, Joseph Marcus, another convict, managed to gather a handful of Jews for worship, marking the humble beginnings of The Great Synagogue. Over the years, this synagogue has remained a focal point for Jewish people in their way of worship. This was fuelled by the growth of a Jewish community that eventually saw the construction of many other synagogues.
Home to a thriving congregation, this Synagogue is welcoming to visitors regardless of their age, race or sexual orientation. Public tours of the synagogue are available; usually held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, as well as on every Thursday of the month from noon. Visitors must note that there are no tours conducted on Jewish holidays and public holidays. For this reason, it is best to confirm dates at least a fortnight in advance.
There is no need to make reservations for public tours – you can show up and have fun! For group tours, however, bookings are compulsory. These knowledgeable tours are facilitated by volunteers who are well versed with the Jewish way of life and the synagogue’s rich history.
The Great Synagogue is easily accessible from Elizabeth Street.