Letters to the Editor

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Country Communities

The Country Communities’ articles that appear regularly on our SAJBD Cape Council pages have aroused much interest from family of former residents of these towns. Below are two such letters responding to the article that appeared in the November 2021 issue, about the history of Durbanville’s Jewish community. These letters, and all other correspondence received on the subject, have been forwarded to the Kaplan Centre at UCT where a Durbanville file has been opened.

It would seem to a stranger reading your article about Durbanville, that the town was composed of the Scher, Borok and one or two other families ‘full stop’. In truth the Sacks family also had a very ‘large’ Durbanville history.

My late grandfather, Mr Solomon Sacks arrived in Durbanville from Lithuania in 1922. He was followed by his wife, two sons (the elder being my late father, Solly Sacks,) his brother Harry and a sister, Sonia. They were a foundation family of the Durbanville Hebrew Congregation.

My grandfather started a small general dealer business in Wellington Rd, Durbanville, which was eventually taken over by my uncle Harry who ran it for many decades until he passed away.

Aunty Sonia married and lived in Durbanville for many years, while my father left Durbanville in his 20s after schooling there, and lived in upper Cape Town for years where he learned the meat trade. He eventually moved to Muizenberg with his new wife, Irene (my mother) where they both worked in the retail meat and grocery trades, spending the rest of their lives there and bringing up three children, my brother Harry (still in the meat trade), my sister Shirley, and me.

While living in Muizenberg, our lives were enriched by our weekly Sunday trips to Durbanville to be with our extended Durbanville family.

So, just a little thumbnail sketch for the history of my family’s Durbanville roots.

Dr Basil Sacks

I have read your article and want to draw you attention to the errors:

Nathan Scher brought two brothers, and later in 1904 he sent for his widowed mother and her youngest son Abie, aged 10, who went to school in Durbanville.

The original families who were the core of community were Scher, Spiro, Borok, Swerling, Schus, Sacks and Emdin. Over the decades many others came to live there.

The Ner Tamid was made by my late Father Boris Surovsky in honour of my marriage to Nokkie Scher in 1953. The Menoroth were also made by him in memory of my mother Rebecca Surovsky. In 1961 my father donated them to the shul (not the Borok family).
Reverend Dorogow lived with Abie and Golda Scher’s family for 18 years. The shul only bought the house in 1954 and he had already left for Goodwood.

The Torah that Abie Scher and his sons donated to the shul, in memory of Golda Scher, Judith Scher and Hannah (Hanke) Raichlin remained there until 1999. Neil Scher felt that it should come to Israel, as the bulk of the family were living there and the community had dwindled. He went to South Africa and arranged to bring it to Israel.

I thank you for all you have done and if there is anything you wish to know I will be happy to be of assistance. When you have done that I would like a copy so that I could send it to what was Beth Hatfutsot now called Anu.

With sincere thanks from Jerusalem


• Published in the PDF edition of the December 2021/January 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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