When the Jews first arrived in the Cape, they settled wherever they found economic opportunities, and moved into country towns, establishing cemeteries and synagogues.
As their children grew up, they went to the cities to further their education, and stayed there, with the parents joining their children and grandchildren as they aged. As the communities shrank and they could no longer muster a minyan, many congregations closed, establishing trusts for its assets with the help of the Board, and donating their Sifrei Torah and religious artifacts to other congregations. The Board helps the congregations to look after the cemeteries.
But what happens to the synagogues? Below we see that they have become museums, homes, conference centres and even a badminton court.
HERMANUS HEBREW CONGREGATION
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, there were regular Friday night and High Holydays services and full Shabbat services during December/January. For details contact Dave Rade on 082 902 9214.
In March this year several graves were desecrated, The intention is to lay the tombstones flat.
SOMERSET WEST/ STRAND HEBREW CONGREGATION
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, there were regular Friday night and High Holy days services. For details contact Hertzel Brodovcky on 082 871 0281 or Ceddy Miller on 082 751 6437.
PAARL HEBREW CONGREGATION
Until the Covid-19 pandemic there were regular Friday night and High Holy days services. For details contact Mark Kaufman on 079 673 3307 or email@example.com.
Paarl looks after the Wellington Cemetery. In December 2018 most of the 63 graves were desecrated.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, there were regular Friday night, yahrzeit and High Holy days services. For details contact Bernard Herman on 083 298 4326.
More than 30 tombstones were desecrated in August last year. These have been repaired and replaced, and laid flat.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, there were Friday night and High Holy days services. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or
044 533 4833.
STELLENBOSCH HEBREW CONGREGATION
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, there were regular Friday night and High Holy days services. For details contact Dennis Zetler on
082 570 6230.
While the focus of the Board’s work is centred around the urban area of the Cape Town Metro, it is often forgotten that many Jews live on the outskirts and in smaller communities within the greater Western Cape. The wellbeing of these communities and their members fall in the ambit of our Country Communities subcommittee. There are active communities which regularly host shul services and also maintain and ensure that the cemeteries are clean and safe for visits to loved ones. The Board also works closely with municipalities and individuals to maintain the cemeteries where there is no active Jewish community – these include Ceres, Piketberg, Uniondale, Caledon, Robertson, Montagu, Worcester and others. We encourage everyone to visit our country communities, spend a Shabbos, explore the towns and learn the fascinating history of the role Jews played in the growth and development of the Western Cape.
• Published in the PDF edition of the September 2021 issue – Get the PDF here.
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