Jewish Doornfontein Part 2

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Chagy
Berele Chagy Soundclip

 

Ishvara Dhyan’s Walking Tour – the shuls in Doornfontein

 

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My thanks to Naomi Musiker of the archives at Beyachad for showing me this two volume set and to Rose Norwich for writing them and giving me permission to use extracts. Rose’s thesis has never been published. Hopefully someone will take on this project!

Rose and Naomi

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Poswohl Synagogue

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Ponevez Shul

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Ponevez Sick & Benevolent Society 1949
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The First Chevra Kadisha on the grounds of the University of Johannesburg

 

Beth Hamedrash Hagadol – The Berele Chagy Shul. It is now a gym on the campus.

 

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Berele Chagy
Chagy


Chagy – soundclip

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Berele CHAGY (HAGGAI)

1. The world-famous cantor, Berele CHAGY (HAGGAI), was born in Dagda, Latvia on July 25, 1892. He emigrated to the United States in 1913.

(Information from Paul Silverman)

2. The famous Cantor (Chazan) Berele (Boris) CHAGY, the son of Yitzchak and Sheine CHAGY was from Dagda.

(Information from Eli Goldstein, Johannesburg, South Africa)

3. Berele Chagy was a great hazzan and officiated at Smolensk by 17. Later he had congregations in USA (New York, Detroit and Boston) and in South Africa (BETH HAMEDRASH HAGADOL). The last few years he was at the great Brooklyn shul Bethel (Bethel Synagogue created some rushes towards a movie of its great cantors). He went from Dagda to Riga to study, thence to Smoilensky (a cigarette case given to him with inscriptions in Hebrew “From the Hassids of Smolensk” is still in the family). Because of his youth he required special permission to be a cantor presiding there.

His father and his father’s father are supposed to have all been cantors. At nine he was accompanying his own father in singing and praying. One day he ran away to another village and was found davvening there!

He married very early a young woman, Esther, who was very active as a Zionist, though they never made aliyah together and she visited only late in life. His sons became philosophers and pianists. His grandchildren are in the arts.

He had a hard time escaping the army and came to America. He died while praying in Newark, New Jersey, in l954.

(He is listed in many Jewish encyclopedias.)
(His students – or those who sang under him are – interesting: From Jan Peerce and Danny Kaye to others.)

(Information from David Shapiro, New York, USA)

Any further information about Berele CHAGY (HAGGAI) will be greatly appreciated. Write to: Elsebeth Paikin

 

Marc Latilla’s blog

 

Next time – The Great Synagogue, Wolmarans Street.

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