Bob Sitsky

“One of thrills of living in Sydney was being able to go to a public beach and enjoy the surf on Bondi Beach.”

I was born in Tientsin, North China in 1939.
My mother, father, brother and I arrived in Australia in February 1951.

Coming to Australia

In China we were living under communist rule, you couldn’t speak freely. The openness here in Australia was a huge difference.

One of the thrills of living in Sydney was being able to go to a public beach and enjoy the surf on Bondi Beach.

Russian and Jewish food

In China, our diet was Russian Jewish. It wasn't Chinese. We had traditional Russian and Jewish foods like pelmeni, pirog, borsch, gefillte fish…I would call it a European sort of diet. When we moved here, our diet sort of remained the same. My mother followed the same tradition of Jewish and Russian food.

Key Migration Wave - Jews from China

There were three main Jewish ethnic groups in China: the Sephardi Jews from the Middle East in Shanghai; the White Russians, who fled Russia under the Tsars and the Communists and mainly settled in Harbin and Tientsin; and the Jewish refugees from Nazism who fled to Shanghai in 1938-1940. At the end of World War II, the Chinese Nationalists demanded the expulsion of the stateless European Jews, few of whom wished to return to Europe. In addition, most of the Sephardi and Jewish White Russians in Harbin and Tientsin decided to leave China with the Communist takeover in 1949. In total, it is estimated that about 2,500 – 3,000 Jews migrated from China to Australia between 1945 and 1953.

Listen to Bob's Eat, Pray, Naches stories

Full Transcript available here

Bob was born in Tiensen in North China.  After the Communists' take-over in China in 1949, families like Bob's had to leave and find new homes.  Australia became Bob's new home.


Even though Bob's family lived in China, their diet was Russian Jewish, a mixed sort of diet, European. When they moved to Australia their diet remained the same, Jewish and Russian.


Bob's family were not a religious family but followed Jewish traditions. Bob likes the Jewish tradition of families which he has carried on very strongly.


In China, Bob's grandparents, parents and siblings all lived in the same house creating great naches. Even though he is in a different situation now, that feeling of naches still permeates his family, even though they don't call it that.