A Networked Community: Jewish Melbourne in the Nineteenth Century by Sue Silberberg


  • Simon Farley the University of Melbourne


Some years ago, I paid a visit to the Jewish Museum of Australia, where I was struck by a ‘folk saying’ emblazoned on a wall: ‘Jews are just like everyone else – only more so.’ This is perhaps the defining sentiment of Sue Silberberg’s A Networked Community, a history of Melbourne’s Jewish community in the nineteenth century. Over and again, Silberberg emphasises how Melbourne’s Jews were deeply and seamlessly integrated into the broader settler community; her account suggests that antisemitism was virtually absent from Melbourne before the twentieth century. Yet she also makes it clear that this community took pains to ensure the maintenance of their culture and religion, particularly through strict enforcement of endogamy.