81st Anniversary of Obs-Mowbray Shul

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Observatory-Mowbray congregants and guests at the service.

On Sunday 16 August a special service was held to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the beautiful and historic Observatory-Mowbray Shul in William Street which has been holding services since 1928.

The inspiring Mincha — Ma’ariv services were led by Cantors Ivor Joffe and Stephen Chapman both of whom, like so many others present, have strong historical connections to the Shul.

Visitors from a broad range of Cape Town’s Jewish community attended, notable among them being Natie Altschuler, a dedicated member of the Obs-Mowbray community for over 40 years.

The Shul’s Life President, Cyril Jaffe, who had his barmitzvah there in 1928, was a leading light until his untimely passing on the eve of this anniversary.

Marc Turok, the Shul’s dedicated chairman and host for the evening, expressed his vision of its potential as a young, vibrant cultural, spiritual and educational centre, which could be boosted if its property were also developed to provide accommodation for Jewish students and professionals. He pointed out that the area was being transformed and revitalized, with new apartment and commercial buildings. The University of Cape Town has extensive plans for senior student residences, amongst other developments in the area.

Rabbi Dr Lionel Mirvis gave a rousing and lyrical sermon on the extraordinary significance of the 81st anniversary. He drew attention to the ruach of the Obs-Mowbray Shul, which, despite its small size, has been a ‘ne-er tamid’ in the community.

Rabbi Mirvis noted the Shul’s central location in the heart of greater Cape Town, which enhances its potential to endure and flourish.

The atmospheric service concluded with a lavish oneg, during which visitors rekindled their connection to the Shul’s history. Many identified their relatives in the historical photographs and plaques which grace the walls of the foyer and Brocha room.

Turok said that the Shul would remain open every Friday night to welcome all visitors, while continuing its reciprocal relationship with Rondebosch Shul. There is an ambitious programme for a range of Shabbat and Yom Tov services and additional support from the broader community would be welcomed.

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