As far back as 1831, the London Beit Din was confronted with issues surrounding granting divorces, when one or other of the parties had been transported to Australia, which did not have a formal Jewish legal body. The first Beit Din, or religious Jewish court, was convened in Australia in 1864, for the sole purpose of effecting a divorce and arranging a gett, for a Jewish couple that wished to legally separate.
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!