Celebrating 170 years!

A drawing of the Gardens Shul in 1905

The Cape Town Jewish community recently celebrated the 170th anniversary of the founding of the first congregation in Africa south of the Sahara.

The first service was held at the home of Benjamin Norden, now part of the Mount Nelson Hotel, on Erev Yom Kippur 1841. Seventeen men attended, and seven days later, on 3 October 1841, the Tikvat Yisrael Cape Town Hebrew Congregation (now known affectionately as the Gardens Shul) was constituted.

Soon thereafter, land was purchased in Albert Road Woodstock as a burial ground. In 1849, a building on the corner of St John’s and Bouquet streets (still in existence) was converted into a synagogue. In 1863, the first synagogue was built, which today forms part of the Gardens Shul and the Jewish Museum. — Solly Berger

The Gardens Shul today

The Chronicle thanks Solly for this historical summary, and invites further letters from readers sharing their knowledge and thoughts on the 170th anniversary. Please send letters to editor@ctjc.co.za