Restoration of the ‘Old Shul’

After more than 150 years in existence, even the loveliest old lady needs some refreshing. 

It was September 1863 that the Tikvath Israel Congregation (now the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation) opened the doors of South Africa’s first custom-built shul, the St John’s Street Synagogue. All services were held here until 1905, when the swelling numbers of Jewish immigrants led to the opening of the Gardens Shul right next door. 

Since 1905 the ‘Old Shul’ (as it became affectionately known) hosted the early Cape Town Jewish Museum, student services, candle lighting ceremonies, weddings, music and theatre performances and all manner of events. In 2000 it became the welcoming entrance to the SA Jewish Museum.

While still beautiful, the Old Shul has recently become a little faded. Thanks to a generous grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, allocated to the museum by the US State Department, we are giving our old lady a makeover from top to bottom. Renovation of floors, ceiling, walls, windows and internal structures is currently underway and is due to be completed in late August. We look forward to showing off our fully restored Old Shul when we reopen the building later this year.

For more information please go to

• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2022 issue – Click here to read it.

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