The extraordinary growth of the Perth Jewish Community in the last 10 to 15 years means that Perth now offers a fully satisfying life and environment for all, including the Shomer Shabbat family.
There are a number of Shules in Perth, offering a variety of Shule experiences. In addition, a minyan is held daily and on Shabbat at the Jewish aged- persons' home. The oldest congregation, established last century, is the Perth Hebrew Congregation. Up until the extraordinary growth of the community in the 1980's this was the sole Orthodox shule serving the community. It is a large shule located in the more established area of the community, within the Eruv and within walking distance of most Shomer Shabbat families.
The Perth Hebrew Congregation offers the full range of facilities of any large Orthodox Shule. It has a Rabbi and an Associate Rabbi, a Mikvah on site and a sizeable bookshop stocking a full range of Jewish texts including Artscroll and Feldheim as well as all the standard texts that would be attractive to religious customers.
The Perth Hebrew Congregation has services for Shacharit. Minchah and Ma'ariv every day. The Rabbi of the Shule undertakes the full range of rabbinic duties to be expected of any large Orthodox Shule.
Next to Carmel School and also within the Eruv is the Dianella Shule or, officially, the Beit Midrash of Western Australia. This is more of a "Shtibel" style of Shule with a high proportion of Shomer Shabbat families or families and individuals working towards a higher level of observance. Like the Shtibels around Johannesburg it does not have the traditional choir or chazan but emphasises participation by all and the "learning experience".
Some six kilometres to the north of the Perth Hebrew Congregation is the suburb of Noranda where Chabad has its shule. The Shule, Chabad W.A. also offers a wide range of social activities. Over the years it has been a very attractive focal point for South African migrants who have found there not only the traditional type of service which they are used to, but also a warm and welcoming soft landing upon their arrival.
There is also a Progressive congregation, Temple David, in the Mount Lawley area.
In terms of adult education the Shules offer a wide variety of shi'urim during the week and on Shabbat. These range from basic level classes to more advanced gemora. In addition, throughout the course of the year a variety of international rabbinic figures visit Perth and conduct programs. lectures and Shabbatons.
So far as the chinuch of children is concerned, Carmel School is the only Jewish day school in Perth. It caters for a full spectrum of Jewish children - from those who come from families with almost no level of observance to the children of the Rabbis of the community. On the one hand the School must obviously balance its program to accommodate the various levels of background. On the other hand the School is a unique model of integration of children from a broad spectrum of observance. The School's overwhelming experience is that children from religious homes wear their background as badge of pride, with their own commitment enhanced as they become role models to all the children of the School. At the same time the School's ethos breeds a unique respect and understanding between all students.
The standard of the Jewish studies program is extremely high amongst comparable community day schools and it has been the subject of wonderful compliments from visiting religious dignitaries who have visited the school. The formal Jewish Studies constitutes between 20% and 25% of the School curriculum. Shabbatonim and religious camps and retreats are a common feature of the School's programme, particularly in the High School.
Additional programmes for more interested and observant children are offered in both the Primary School and High School. A special "Torah Stream" programme is offered in the Primary School. Students in the High School are offered early morning shi'urim and minyanim, providing enrichment in the more advanced areas of Jewish Studies such as Chumash with Rashi.
Outside the School arrangements can be made for further tuition through the various Shules or Rabbonim. The Beit Midrash of WA (Dianella Shule) for example operates a Cheder for observant children which focuses on the more advanced texts including Rashi, Mishnah, Shulchan Aruch and Gemora. The Cheder also has advanced learning for observant children during school holidays.
Many Adult Education programmes, women's learning programmes and advanced Yeshiva learning are also available.
Many Carmel School graduates go on to attend Yeshivot through the B'nei Akiva and other programmes in Israel. B'nei Akiva, which also provides a strong social and educational framework for religious youth, meets weekly on Shabbat and holds a number of activities and camps throughout the year.
Kashrut throughout Australia operates differently than in some other countries. Rather than look for a Beth Din stamp on products all manufactured products that are certified as kosher are contained in a "kashrut list". As the principal food manufacturing basis for Australia is in Sydney and Melbourne most products available in Perth are checked through the Sydney and Melbourne Kashrut authorities. Thus in general, the same range of kosher products available in Sydney and Melbourne are available in Perth. They are available at any shopping outlets. In addition there is a local kashrut authority known as the Kashrut Authority of Western Australia that investigates and supervises local products. There is a kosher butcher and a kosher bakery (The Kosher Providore) and supermarkets which sell a wide range of fresh and prepared products and all manner of fresh bakery products. In addition a number of outlets in Perth stock a range of kosher products imported from Israel, the United States and South Africa. Catering outlets under the supervision of the Kashrut Authority of Western Australia cater for private functions at a variety of venues. One of these catering outlets runs a full time kosher catering kitchen from the premises of the Jewish Centre in the heart of the Jewish suburbs, right next door to Carmel School. Kosher Meals on Wheels is available through the Maurice Zeffert Centre.
Perth boasts a very beautiful Mikvah which has been approved by internationally renowned authorities on the laws of Mikvah. The Perth Beth Din handles all the usual functions of a Beth Din. The Kashrut Authority of WA supervises the kashrut in the community and is constituted by the Rabbis or all the Shules together with other assistance. The Rabbis and Ministers in Perth have a joint Council known as "O.R.A." (Orthodox Rabbis of Australasia). O.R.A. provides the entire community with programmes of shi'urim including speakers of international repute. O.R.A. is also the forum at which Rabbinic policy of the community is determined. All the Orthodox Rabbis of the community participate in O.R.A. Religious books, items and giftware are readily available from a number of outlets including the bookshop on the premises of the Perth Hebrew Congregation.