Connecting with Country Communities in Paarl, Wellington and Stellenbosch

David King, Dennis Zetler, Daniel Bloch and Fischel Kaufmann

By Daniel Bloch

We recently celebrated the festival of Shavuot which commenced on the evening of Sunday, 16 May.

A communal braai was held on the Sunday as a prelude to Shavuot. This was hosted by the Paarl-Wellington Hebrew Congregation and also attended by members of the Stellenbosch Hebrew Congregation, allowing the communities to celebrate together — all whilst observing COVID-19 regulations. Country Communities Chairperson David King and I were invited to attend and share a meal with members of the community. We took the time to engage and offer advice where needed.

My family (wife and kids) as well as my father-in-law were also invited. As my wife and her parents are originally from Paarl (Miller and Berman families), it made this trip that much more special. Driving through the town of Paarl, my wife Jenna was telling our children the stories of where their Zadie and Gaga went to school and pointing out their old houses.

When we arrived at the shul just after 12pm, the weather was sunny and there were several people sitting outside, deep in conversation; and the braai masters were preparing the fire for what later would be a most scrumptious meal — chops, boerie rolls and salads.

We were greeted by Mark Kaufmann who runs the Paarl-Wellington Shul and has been very involved with the restoration of the Wellington Cemetery. He introduced me to his father Fischel Kaufmann who is the current chairperson, and Dennis Zetler who is the chairperson of the Stellenbosch Hebrew Congregation. Just before lunch, Fischel Kaufmann gave a warm welcome and I was fortunate enough to address the community, assuring them of the Board’s commitment to partnering with all our Country Communities.

A most pleasing sight was that of young children (including my own) running around during the event. We learnt that two young families had recently moved to the area and had joined the Paarl Shul.

All in all, it was a truly great day out and a valuable opportunity to connect with members of the Paarl, Wellington and Stellenbosch Jewish communities. I look forward to more engagements with these and our other country communities, going forward.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website:, Instagram, and Facebook page.

• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2021 issue.

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