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Photo: Lianne

Freydi Mrocki - Oystralia: The Yiddish Community of Melbourne


Jews have been part of the white settlement of Australia from its very beginnings as a penal colony in 1788. Slow but steady throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish migration to Australia surged following the Holocaust, when a majority of Yiddish-speaking survivors migrated to Australia, settling mostly in Melbourne. This relatively small but dynamic community would create a vibrant centre of Yiddish life and culture, boasting Yiddish theatre, radio, and press, a SKIF youth movement of the Bund, Yiddish Sunday schools and then a Yiddish day school, Yiddish writers, musicians and choirs, a cultural centre and a national library Kadimah which is currently celebrating its 100th jubilee. Though declining in number, the yidishistn of Melbourne, often marginalized by the mainstream Jewish community, are today still actively working to maintain their Yiddish world in ek velt.

Melbourne’s own Freydi Mrocki will provide an overview of Australian-Jewish history, focusing particularly on the cultural life of Melbourne’s Yiddish community. Mrocki is a Yiddish teacher, performer, and singer with the Australian klezmer band Klezmania. She is the first Australian artist ever presented at the Ashkenaz Festival.

Sponsored by The Al and Malka Green Yiddish Studies Program at the University of Toronto and The Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto.

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