Welcome To Jewish Country Communities

This series of volumes on Jewish Life in the South African Country Communities covers the history of Jewish immigration to this country from as early as 1820 when a group of 18 Jews arrived with the 1820 Settlers. They came looking for a better life, either escaping economic hardship, conscription into the Tzar’s army, pogroms and antisemitism throughout Eastern Europe. They knew little or nothing of the conditions they were to encounter, many could not speak the local languages and most left behind families, some of whom they never saw again. The immigrants, however, never forgot their Jewish roots. They formed communities and congregations, found a location in which to hold services, and often built synagogues in the little villages or towns where they lived.

From these humble beginnings the Jews of South Africa made a huge contribution to the growth of this country. They were pioneers in industry, science, medicine, farming, education and many other fields.

This fascinating story, at present covering five volumes based on different regions of South Africa, has been extracted from an extensive database captured over the past 20 years, from records preserved in the archives of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, South African Zionist Federation, the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at UCT and from interviews among many other sources listed in the books.

Please note:

The following places are not covered in these books, as they are recorded at the Beit Hatfusot Museum in Israel:- Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Outshoorn, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria.