From The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2016, by Alex Ryvchin*:
Australia's Jewish community has always understood that its fortunes will rise and fall with the fortunes of the nation.
And so, when Jews gather in their holy places, they pray for the welfare of this country in a tradition that originates in 594BC, when the Jews lived in exile in Babylon.
"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile," wrote the Prophet Jeremiah, "… and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."
These words, contained in a letter sent from Jerusalem to the leaders of the exiled community in Babylon, came at a time when the Jews faced a profound dilemma. Now also a people of the diaspora yet a distinct nation with enduring ties to their homeland, the Jews would need to reconcile their longing to return with their new reality of living as foreign subjects in distant lands.
Jeremiah's decree became a pillar of Jewish life in exile. It counselled the Jews to see themselves as a part of the societies in which they lived and, most crucially, it compelled them to do good, not just for their own community, but for all citizens of the land – for in their welfare, they would find their own.
By AD135 the Jews would see their autonomy collapse under the weight of Rome and the focus of Jewish life devolved from Jerusalem to the far-flung reaches of the Empire. Adapting to their new reality of statelessness, the Jewish sages developed further doctrines to maintain a national identity while achieving genuine integration.
A central plank of Jewish life became the principle of "Dina d'malchuta dina", (the law of the land is the law), by which the Jews were compelled to respect and observe the laws of the countries in which they now lived.