DUNEDIN , city in Otago, New Zealand. Five Jewish families had settled in Dunedin, the most southern Jewish community in the world, before the discovery of gold in Otago in 1861. In 1862, the congregation had a membership of 43, including the poet and novelist Benjamin *Farjeon. Jacob *Saphir of Jerusalem, then visiting Dunedin, wrote a megillah for reading on Purim. The first synagogue was consecrated in 1864. A number of congregational activities were initiated while B. Lichenstein was minister, from 1875 to 1892. A synagogue was built in 1881. From 1884 D.E. Theomin headed the community for almost 30 years. Wolf Heinemann, professor and examiner in German and Hebrew at Otago University from 1895, lectured in the synagogue and founded the Dunedin Zionist Society in 1905. Other ministers included A.T. Chodowski, who officiated from 1898 to 1909 and later founded the Australian Jewish Chronicle, and A. Astor (1926–30). Although a small community, it produced four notable members of the legislature – Sir Julius *Vogel, Samuel Shrimski, Bendix Hallenstein, and Mark Cohen. In the present century it dwindled and numbered only 100 in 1968 and about the same number in 2004.
L.M. Goldman, History of the Jews in New Zealand (1958), index; Journal and Proceedings of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, 1 (1943), 154–60; 2 (1948), 202–12, 269–80, 394–400; New Zealand Jewish Review and Communal Directory (1931), 19, 47, 69. add. bibliography: S. Levine, The New Zealand Jewish Community (1999), index; jyb 2004.
[Maurice S. Pitt]