Tribute to Irma Chait

Irma Chait

By Myra Osrin

Irma Chait passed away on 24 August 2020 at the age of 79. Editor of the Cape Jewish Chronicle (CJC) for 26 years, there is no better place to pay tribute to her than on these pages.

Married to Noah for over 57 years, Irma was a devoted mother and much adored granny. A Latin teacher by profession, she taught for many years at Herzlia. She also wrote regular articles and newsletters for the school’s PTA. But it was in her role as editor of the Cape Jewish Chronicle from 1984 until the end of 2010 that she will be remembered with great affection and esteem by the entire Cape Town Jewish community.

On Irma’s retirement, as founder of the CJC, I was asked by the Chronicle’s Editorial Board to write a few words of tribute to Irma from which I quote: “Whilst I perhaps was the midwife who brought the Chronicle into the world, it was Irma who nurtured the young infant through its early childhood, with the usual accompanying teething troubles. It was Irma who, over the years, meticulously, skillfully and with great dedication raised and moulded the CJC to reach the maturity and well–regarded status it so enjoys today.”

The Cape Town Jewish community is greatly indebted to Irma for her invaluable work in bringing the heart and soul of the community to every Jewish household in Cape Town for over two decades. Irma’s knowledge, words and wit made the Chronicle into the popular publication that it was, not only for Capetonians but also for many expats living in other parts of the world.

Irma worked closely with hundreds of chairpersons, lay leaders, rabbis, staff members and people in the community, and she always had time for them all. She treated everyone equally and always with great interest in their lives, perspectives and backgrounds.

She formed close friendships with many colleagues, especially the Cape Jewish Chronicle team that she so valued. In particular, Irma worked together with Tessa Epstein, Desrae Saacks and the late Anita Shenker for decades, creating a dynamic community paper every month.

While she was the face and voice of the Chronicle, she had other busy aspects of her life, from raising four children with Noah by her side to writing a number of children’s books. Young at heart and with and zest for life, she was unforgettable to everyone who encountered her. Her legacy will live on in the annals of the CJC, in the memories of family and friends, and in the Cape Town Jewish community that she loved so much.

On behalf of the Cape Jewish Chronicle Editorial Board, staff and colleagues, we extend our deepest sympathy to Noah, Lisa, Robinne, Norman, Jodi and their families.

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  1. How sad to read about the passing of Irma Chait. I was thinking about her today and decided to look her up on the internet. I can only say that she was an amazing, beautiful person. She taught me Latin at Good Hope Seminary in 1963. We all adored her. She was an excellent teacher with a light touch and a delightful sense of humour. I still treasure the blurry black and white photo I took of her at the end of term with my Kodak Instamatic!!! Windswept and smiling with Table Mountain behind her. An angel indeed! Rest in peace beloved teacher…


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