Heritage month at the Board

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The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies wishes all the members of our Western Cape Jewish community best wishes for the new year and well over the fast. 

This month we shall also be celebrating Sukkot and may we all enjoy sharing rainless meals and friendly companionship among the exalted visitors inside beautifully decorated sukkahs.

After that comes the day the children look forward to — Simchat Torah and the rejoicing of the law with dancing, flags and chocolates.

In the Board’s heritage collection there is a beautiful convex copper mirror framed in Burmese teak, donated by the Lippy Lipshitz, who is regarded as one of the most important South African sculptors, and who was the Associate Professor of Fine Art at UCT, and awarded a Medal of Honour for Sculpture by the SA Akademie.   

Later he made Aliyah to Israel where he died in 1980. Lippy was born in Plungian, Lithuania to a Chassidic family where his grandfather had built a synagogue. On the mirror frame Lippy carved his memories of Simchat Torah in his shtetl, with ecstatic figures holding the Sefer Torahs This is not the only item the Board has that is related to Simchat Torah. Mendel Rieback of Johannesburg had donated to the old Jewish Museum, now in the possession of the Board, the yellow box in which he had kept his exam papers from Hope Lodge and CT High School. The box, has a photograph of his synagogue, with Simchas Torah 5694 – 1934 with compliments from the Maitland Hebrew Congregation printed on it.

In August this year, Gwynne Robins found a matching chocolate box in Bargains Galore, the Jewish Community Service’s gift shop. This one contained a collection of cigarette cards and came from the Woodstock & Salt River Hebrew Congregation. This too has a photo of the synagogue on the lid and the inscription Simchas Torah 5701-1940 with compliments from the Woodstock & Salt River Hebrew Congregation. Written in pencil is the child’s name — Jackie Lipotkin.

These boxes are unique souvenirs, indicating how our traditions have been passed down, and are probably the only ones of their kind to have survived.

Unfortunately, neither of the original owners had sufficient self-control or interest in future heritage to leave intact the chocolates that were contained in the box! So although we now know what the containers of the Simchat Torah chocolates distributed to the children in 1934 and 1940 looked like, we shall never know what 85-year old chocolate would have tasted like.

To download a PDF of the Chronicle for October, click here

To read the editor’s column this month, titled ‘Why we need more difficult females’ click here

To read the most read story online in September, click here

To visit the Board of Deputies website, click here

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