gold mining

1852 Ballarat and the arrival of Abraham Abrahamsohn

The story of a very talented German who ventured to Australia via the US, having practiced as a traveling mohel for the San Francisco Jewish community and occasional baked matzoh. On hearing about the discovery of gold in Victoria, he packed his bags, booked his passage to Sydney and treked overland to the Victorian goldfields.

Striking Gold in Australia

When gold was discovered in New South Wales in 1851 by Edward Hargreaves, the area near Bathurst was actually given a Hebrew name – ‘’Ophir’’ – a name and place from the bible famous for its gold and wealth. Victoria’s gold rush began in 1851 and, over the next ten years, close to 600,000 people flowed into the region in search of their fortune. Many of these adventurers were Jewish.

Goldfields and Immigration

The Jewish Ladies’ Benevolent Loan and Visiting Society formed a committee that eventually became the Jewish Emigration Society. Donations came in, and in June of 1853, an advertisement was printed announcing the Society’s intention of sending 20 single Jewish female emigrants to Australia. What happened next was quite unexpected!