Jewish refugees from Russia and Poland began arriving in the 1890s, fleeing pogroms in their native lands.
This immigration wave led to a divide among urban Jewish communities.
They purchased land in Margaret Street for £200 and in 1885 called for designs, choosing the plans of Arthur Morry, an architect who worked for the Queensland Colonial Architect.
The Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal (started 1939) appears twice a year, published in Sydney and Melbourne respectively.The condition of the Jewish community improved to such an extent that in 1844 the first synagogue was formed in York Street, Sydney using rented space, which continued in use for more than thirty years.The 1841 census shows that New South Wales Jewry accounted for 65.3% of the total Australian Jewish population, and 0.57% of the total Australian population.The Jewish section was created to enable the burial of one Joel Joseph. Cohen having offered the use of his house for the purpose, divine worship was performed for the first time in the colony according to the Hebrew form, and was continued regularly every Sabbath and holiday. In this condition everything in connection with their religion remained until the arrival of Rev. He had been a dayyan, and, duly accredited, he succeeded in instilling into the minds of the congregation a taste for the religion of their fathers.During the next ten years there was no great increase in membership of the society, and its services were not called for more than once a year. From some difference of opinion then existing among the members of this faith, divine service was also performed occasionally in a room hired by Messrs. A Sefer Torah [scroll of the Law] was purchased by subscription, divine service was more regularly conducted, and from this time may be dated the establishment of the Jewish religion in Sydney.The actual allocation of land for a consecrated Jewish cemetery was not approved until 1832."In 18 then the worldly condition of the Hebrews in the colony improved considerably, in consequence of the great influx of respectable merchants; and this, with other circumstances, has raised the Hebrews in the estimation of their fellow colonists. In 1832 they formed themselves into a proper congregation, and appointed Joseph Barrow Montefiore as the first president." Over the following decades, the community's numbers increased, primarily as a result of Jewish immigration from the United Kingdom and Germany.