The Boerejode of the Boland

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A visit to Cape Town is not complete without a drive to one of the towns in the Boland.

From Wikipedia:

Boland, Western Cape

The Boland (Afrikaans for “top country” or “land above”[1]) is a region of the Western Cape province of South Africa, situated to the northeast of Cape Town in the middle and upper courses of the Berg and Breede Rivers, around the mountains of the central Cape Fold Belt. It is sometimes also referred to as the Cape Winelands because it is the primary region for the making of Western Cape wine.

Although the Boland does not have defined boundaries, its core lies around the towns of StellenboschPaarl and Worcester. It may be understood to extend as far as MalmesburyTulbaghSwellendam and Somerset West. This is approximately the area included in the Cape Winelands District Municipality, which was formerly called the Boland District Municipality. To the southwest lies the Cape Town metropolitan area, to the northwest the Swartland and West Coast, to the northeast the Great Karoo, to the east the Little Karoo, and to the south the Overberg.

The “Boland” name is given to a number of sports teams from the region, including the Boland cricket team and the Boland Cavaliersrugby union team.


Many of the Jews who came to Africa from Europe settled in rural areas and small dorps. They formed a subculture within the Afrikaner environment of these towns and many were known as Boerejode, Afrikaner Jews or more literally “farmer Jews”.

These towns could be regarded as Africa’s version of the shtetl back in Eastern Europe.

In the earlier years of settlement,  there was the Jewish pedlar or smous, who travelled from town to town, farm to farm, selling his wares. Here is a memorial to the smous or pedlar on my new Graaff Reinet KehilaLink:


Below you will find a selection of my images of Stellenbosch, one of the main towns of the Boland with its striking mountains, rich winelands and outstanding Cape Dutch architecture.

I have also included some interesting articles which I found at the Kaplan Centre archives at UCT, the Univeristy of Cape Town, my alma mater!

A big thank you to Juan-Paul Burke, the librarian at the Kaplan Centre, always so obliging and helpful, for allowing me to use them.

And on a tangent – on campus there was no sign of Cecil John Rhodes, except for the old signs!


in Wikipedia, die vrye ensiklopedie



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

According to the South African Jewish Museum, “Many of the later immigrants arrived with no resources other than their wits and experience. Most could not speak English when they arrived. Often they would learn Afrikaans before English. Their households were often multi-lingual, with parents speaking Yiddish and Afrikaans, and the children learning English at school.”[citation needed]

The University of Cape Town Jewish Studies library has a comprehensive collection of South African Yiddish books. Its collection of Yiddish periodicals is, however, not as comprehensive.

Famous Afrikaner-Jews

Stellenbosch – at and near the Lanzerac Hotel – still so beautiful!

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In and around Stellenbosch

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From the archives at the Kaplan Centre, UCT:


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UCT, Cape Town


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Our previous visit to Stellenbosch


If you are looking for a great tour of Cape Town and / or the Boland, Gerald Potash’s “The Famous Tour” is a must!

Gerald also writes an excellent but sobering weekly blog. Contact Gerald here.


With Gerald at the Waterfront.

Litvak Portal




27 Replies to “The Boerejode of the Boland”

  1. We met one of these fascinating men a few days after we moved apartments from Jerusalem to Kfar Saba. He was standing outside the building as I came out one morning and I greeted him.
    “Boker tov, new neighbor!” I said.
    He asnwered with a “Shalom”.
    “How long have you been in the building?”
    He answered in a heavily Afrikaans accented English, “Man, not long.”
    “Ah, a South African!” I said.
    “Ja. And I had such a language problem when we arrived from South Africa last year.”
    “Oh yes?”
    “Man, I had to learn to speak English!” he said

  2. Very interesting My late father was a “boerejood” but in Dordrecht tin the eastern Cape

    He arrived there from Europe in 1922 and farmed there until he died on his farm in 1972

    The farmers always used to say: “Buurman jy is ‘n regte boer Jy moet nog net ouderling word in die kerk”

  3. At least one of the members of one of our family lines had a venture across the colour line in the Boland I believe! But I don’t think thats exactly a boerejood hehe.

    Our Nankins settled in Paarl with their Droomer wives. Eli Buirski was mayor of Robertson.

    Being born in 1978, I was recently fascinated by this page on RSA literature from the Jewish Virtual Library: It seems to open up a much wider, deeper, richer, and intellectually stronger South Africa, than I had been introduced to.

  4. I was born in 1939 and spent my early years in the Strand where my dad and uncle had I & L Katz, a general dealer store (now known as a department store). We moved to Cape Town in 1948.

    I read in the Zionist Record of 27 June 1947 (above) that my uncle Isaac Katz was President of the Strand Hebrew Congregation at that time. My first chader lessons (by Rev. Gadd) were in the designated chader room in the Strand shul. I recall jumping out of the window when he left the room. No wonder I was never a great Hebrew scholar.

    For the past 30 years I have lived in Australia, but still consider myself a “Katz of the Strand”. Often, when I visit Cape Town, I make a draai and go to the Strand to see how the place has developed. Some years ago, together with my cousin (who also grew up in the Strand) we stopped outside my old house in van der Merwe Street and saw that it was now called Groenewald B+B.

    I knocked on the door and a large boerevrou opened the door. I introduced myself by saying “Mev., ek het in hierdie huis groot geword” to which she responded “O, dan is jy die Jood”, which was her way of acknowledging that my dad had originally built the house (in about 1924). It was the first house in the Strand to have electric lights. They were run off car batteries that my dad would recharge in his car and changed them weekly.

    I keep in touch with childhood friends who also grew up in the Strand and now live in Cape Town, Jerusalem and Sydney. I still have a cousin living in Somerset West. I would be happy to have contact with other ex Strand/Somerset West boerejode.

    Vernon Katz, Sydney, Australia.

    1. Hi Vernon. Thanks for your lovely comments. If you have photos of Jewish life in the Strand, please email to me and I can post them on the blog

      1. Hi Eli and Vernon

        Am sending you separately an Article which I did for the S.A. Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group. My grandparents lived in the Strand from 1920 also in Van der Merwe Street, where Vernon Katz’s family lived and where my grandmother ran a Boarding House. My Grandfather had a General Dealer Store in Wesley Street, right opposite the Police Station. Remember it like yesterday – but I only came into the picture in 1940.

        Beryl Juter Baleson.

    2. Hello Vernon and Beryl,

      My Name is Trevor, I am the grandson of Jackson and Lily Goldberg, My mother is Dassie Goldberg and was the second youngest of the six “Goldberg Girls” and I am speaking to her at the moment via Skype having just read your comments about The Strand to her. My mother lives in Johannesburg and Selma the youngest daughter lives in Melbourne, Australia, both of whom are doing well. Vernon, my sister now lives in Sydney, Australia, should you wish to be in contact with her, let me know. I have emailed all of my cousins the link to the website whose family’s are mentioned in various newspaper articles.

      My mother had time walking down memory lane when I read your comments to her, thank you for that.





      1. Thanks for your message Trevor,

        Of course I remember the Goldbergs, their 6 daughters and the bakery in Wesley street that I used to pass on my way home from chader. I was much younger thanthe Goldberg girls who were friends with my sisters and cousins in the Strand, who were all older than me.

        I forwarded your message to my sister Cecile in Camps Bay, my cousin Peggy in Joburg and 2 of my Strand childhood friends Natalie and Cynthia that I am in regular contact with, who now live in Jerusalem and Sydney respectively. I am accumulating information and photos to pass on to you.

        Can you please email me and I will respond with what I have. My email address is

        By the way, where are you? I live in Sydney. I vaguely remember the name Kobrin, but having emigrated 30 years ago, I cannot recall who it was. Can you enlighten me? Regards, Vernon

  5. The Strand

    The Strand

    Written by Beryl Baleson (Juter)
    whose grandparents Bernard and Leah Juter settled in The Strand in 1921
    after their arrival from Pompian, Lithuania, to South Africa.

    The Strand, which was originally known as Mosterd’s Bay; Hottentots Holland Strand and then Somerset West Strand, nestles at the bottom of the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the Boland, Western Cape, about 30 miles northeast of Cape Town. The first settler in the Hottentots Holland Strand area was a Huguenot, named David du Buisson, who farmed in the area, on a farm named Vloobaai. There was an abundance of fish in this area, with the result that it became a fishing village at the end of the 17th century. The attraction of settlers to this area was the establishment of the de Beers Dynamite Factory in 1902, together with the prolific sea harvest all year round. This lead to the development of The Strand as a town as well as a seaside resort. It became a municipality in 1897. The earliest Jewish settlers who arrived from Lithuania and Latvia were …

    Harris Brodovsky arrived 1899 from Kovno.
    Morris Cheller arrived 1902 from Kamay, Lithuania.
    Joel Dorfan arrived 1897 from Kovno.
    Benjamin Friedman arrived from Lithuania in 1903.
    Max Meller arrived 1902 from Kovno.
    Meyer Millchian arrived 1902 from Vilna.
    Myer Miller arrived 1899 from Malatt, Lithuania.
    N. Nochemowitz date and place of arrival unknown.
    Abe Schulman arrived 1902 from Dvinsk.

    1949. The author’s grandparents Barnett and Leah Juter

    By comparison with other European groups of the Strand community, the Jewish community have been more attached to The Strand than any others, and names like Friedman, Rossenstein, Cohen, Ginsberg, Portnoi and Jacobson are landmarks in The Strand’s development for more than half a century. Jewish enterprise has done much to make The Strand one of the best shopping centres in the Boland.
    At the beginning of the century i.e. 1903 their “Shul” was in Michau Street, just behind the Marine Hotel. Rent of 7s.6d. was paid monthly.

    A permanent Shul opened in 1930 in Wesley Street and the foundation stone laid by Mr. Ben Friedman. The Shul in Wesley Street, was sold in 1986 to the Ebed Gemeente as a Church and later re-sold. Although the inside has changed, the facade has remained. One Sefer Torah was sent to the Beit Shemesh Shul, Beit Shemesh, Israel. The 5 Jewish families who reside to-day in the Strand attend services at the Somerset West Shul.

    The first Rabbi was Rev. I. Green, followed by Rev. Hirshowitz. There were 40 families and subscription was 1 Shilling per month. Rev. Bordien followed as leader of the community between 1932-42 and he was succeeded by Rev. Gad and Rabbi Karwan in 1953.

    There was a cheder, run in the Shul premises. The Strand Zionist Society combined with Somerest West, was established in 1906.

    The first Young Israel summer camp was held at the Strand in 1925/6 but the actual Young Israel Society in the town is not mentioned until 1934. There were also the following Jewish societies:

    Revisionist Society.
    Ladies Benevolent Society.
    Union of Jewish Woman.

    The beaches in the Strand attracted a great deal of Jewish people from all over the Western Cape area in the summer, including the annual Young Israel Camp. However with the rise of the “Greyshirt” movement and anti-semitism becoming rife, the Jewish people of the Western Cape, started using Muizenberg as the summer holiday resort. The Young Israel Camp also moved its headquarters to Lakeside in the Muizenberg area.

    The Jewish families settled there since 1899 were as follows:
    Barenblatt Goldberg Meyerowitz Berdien Green Neppe
    Bernberg Hirshowitz Nochomowitz Bernstein Isaacson Nocky
    Brodovsky Ison Nurok Bucheltz Jacobson Perel
    Cohen Juter Portnoi Cotton Kantor Shapiro Dirmeik Karwan Silke
    Dorfan Katz Sweiden Friedman Katzenellenbogen Toyk
    Fuchs Lang Werb Gad Lipschitz Wisenberg
    Ginsberg Luntz

    During 1995 the following Jewish families were still in the Strand:

    Mr. & Mrs. B. Bucheltz Mr. & Mrs. I. Nocky
    Mr. & Mrs. S.B. Cohen Miss E. Portnoi
    Mr. & Mrs. C. Cotton Mrs. S. Sweiden
    Mr. & Mrs. A. Friedman Mrs. Werb
    Mr. & Mrs. D. Neppe Mr & Mrs. Wisenberg

    By 1999 the Jewish Community dwindled to 5 families. The original amount of 40 families had either passed away or moved to Cape Town, as well as following their children who moved to Israel, Australia and the United States.

    The remaining members of the Jewish community have now combined with the Somerset West Jewish Community and are known as The Strand-Somerset Jewish Community.

    In June 2003, David Jacobson wrote …

    ” While doing some research into my family genealogy I came across the subject webpage viz: The Strand.

    I wish to provide some information about my paternal grandfather Rachmiel Jacobson (naturalised in South Africa as Jacobshon) born between 1878 and 1881, who as far as I know came from Poniedel in Lithuania and migrated to and settled in South Africa in 1902.

    He applied for and was granted naturalisation (No. C.B. 3130) on 7 March 1907. He was a General Dealer resident at Somerset Strand (as The Strand was then known) and had been a resident in the Colony (i.e. The Cape of Good Hope) for five years. He died in the flu epidemic in 1918.

    As an aside, I have his (green covered) “passport book” issued to him on 8 April 1901 to “allow him to reside in a place where Jews were permitted to live.” The place of issue was: Ponedils, Mischansk Upravoya, Novoalexandro Gubernia.

    I was born in 1946 in Somerset West, a town just adjacent to and lived in The Strand till 1970. As far as I know my father Philip Jacobson was born there in 1913 and lived there till 1970. He was the Gabba of The Strand Hebrew Congregation for a number of years during the period when Reverend A. H. Karwan was the minister.

    The names of some other Jewish families that lived in The Strand that are not mentioned on the list of residents of The Strand are: Miller, Buch, Braude, Sifrin, Bagel and Want.”

    On 26 June 2001, Prof. Aubrey Newman,, wrote:

    Some applications for naturalisation and residence in the Strand are as follows:

    Ephraim Epstein, (126) application dated 10 May 1904 from Kovna, aged 28, tailor, resident for 3 years

    Morris Balonow, (212) 10 May 1904, from Druja, Wilna, Minister of Religion, resident for 5 years

    Meyer Millchian, (224) 30 Mar 1905, from Vilna, a cycle repairer, aged 25, resident in the colony for 2 years

    Morris (?Geller), (225) 30 Mar 1905, from Kaunas, aged 31, general dealer, resident for 2 years

    Abe Shulman, (226) 30 Mar 1905, from Dwinsk, aged 25, boot maker, resident for 2 years

    Nathan Nochomowitch, (956) 8th June 1904, born in Kovna, tailor, resident at Strand and in the colony for 3 years, aged 24.

    Max Meller, (957) from Kovno, 8 June 1904, aged 28, shopkeeper, in the colony for 2 years 6 months

    Harris Brodovky, (958) 10 June 1904, born in Kovno, aged ____, horse dealer, in the colony for 5 years

  6. I forgot to mention above that my Grandparents in all their years in the Strand and then Cape Town in their retirement years, spoke Yiddish and Afrikaans. The Afrikaans they learned while living and working in The Strand = never spoke English!

    beryl juter baleson.

  7. Sorry, I made a mistake with the Street my grandparents lived in when they first came to The Strand. It should be van Ryneveldt Street – that is where my Bobba had her boarding house. In the 1940’s they moved to a house in Wesley Street near the Shul. in 1950 they left the Strand and came to Cape Town – they lived near to us in Vredehoek/Highlands. If I am not mistaken Vernon and his Katz family also lived near to us in Highlands before they moved to Sea Point. Vernon, please confirm. Did your family live in the large grey house in Rocklands Avenue, which was a corner away from us in Mynor Avenue.

  8. Sorry, I made a mistake with the Street my grandparents lived in when they first came to The Strand. It should be van Ryneveldt Street – that is where my Bobba had her boarding house. In the 1940’s they moved to a house in Wesley Street near the Shul. .

  9. What a lovely article.
    I still consider myself a Boerjood. Grandson of Leopold Behrman of High Street,Worcester. Ouma was Betty and father was George with sister Rosee and brothers Sam and Aubrey.
    Worcester Dried Fruit and Export Company and from Latvia Riga. Before Worcester my Oupa had a general store in Nuy.
    Any one who knows of our family my email is and I have lived in Los Angeles for nearly 40 years. Still make the biltong and boerewors as my late dad owned Crown Mills Spice and taught me the principles of spicing at an early age. Architect and general contractor here. Lekker bly almal. Ek is nog trots om my Afrikaans te praat elke keur dat ek kaans kry!

  10. I have been corrected by Vernon Katz’s sister, that my grandparents lived in van der Merwe Street, next door to the Katz’s and not in van Ryneveld street as I mistakenly mentioned.

  11. Trevor Kobrin – I don’t remember the Goldberg family but I do remember the Bakery at the beginning
    of Wesley Street. I can still “smell” the bread baking!

  12. Trevor….my sisters were very friendly with all your family and I spent many Friday night there with mine. Jessie especially was very friendly with the girls. I think your grandfather always had a flower in his lapel.

    Ons het almal Afrikaans gepraat en my groot moeilikheid is wat en met my Afrikaanse boeke sal maak as ek eendag my huis verlaat.

  13. iPadMy father had a shop in the Strand in which he sold everything .
    Groceries, clothes, books, newspaper. Thr newspapers would arrive very
    early in the morning and then again at night. He was the agent for the
    Afrikaans newspaper almost from the beginning when it came out and for fifty
    years after that . He was one of the first people in the village to have a
    phone. I remember in the winter mornings hearing the rain on the roof and
    seeing the light go on in the corridor. Then in the cold and rain he would
    go to the train station to pick up the morning papers. In the evening young
    boys would sell the papers in the streets and get a penny for every ten that
    they sold.But Saturday nights were different. I would say rather like the
    nights now when there is a big game on television. Then the papers would
    arrive with the late train at nine pm if I remember correctly. A thick
    paper with a supplement and wonderful comic strips for the children. Those
    were the days when theonly other entertainment was the radio or the movies
    (bios cope). In later years my cousins would come from Gordon’s Bay with
    their Bakker to help him. one night drama. I was woken. and told to get
    dressed and get my bike. The Delivery boy had not arrived. The other
    customers would have to come themselves. But Dr. Malan had his summer
    holidays in the Strand and his paper had to be delivered Those were good
    days whe a little girl could be sent out ay at te at night to dele very the
    newspaper to a prime minister

  14. My mother is Peggy (born 19245), daughter of Isaac Katz of The Strand.
    She read the blog and spoke about everyone mentioned.
    She married Isaac (Sakkie) Katzenellenbogen whose mother was a sister of Sabenza Cohen, Annie (Friedman), Dora (Kruss), Masha (Dembovsky) who remained in Somerset West and The Strand.

  15. My name is Cyril Kruss, born in Somerset West in 1924. My mother, Dora Cohen Kruss’ sister, Masha Dembovsky, sold her part of the Commercial Hotel, and moved to High Level Road, Green Point. My sister, Marcia Kruss Schaffer, boarded with her aunt Masha there. My father, Henoch Kruss, was a border at the Commercial Hotel and met my mother, Dora Cohen there.
    I now reside in Brookline, Massachusetts, since 1977.

  16. Cyril Kruss again. My comment went through incomplete. Tried again but was told I repeated myself. I did not leave my email ( wife’s) in case anyone wants to add anything. – we are in Brookline Massachusetts, U.S.A. since 1977.

  17. I have enjoyed reading all about the Jews in the various country places of SA
    What happened to Hermanus who also had a big Jewish community and the Silkes
    Who were a large family plus other families who lived there and had there barmitzvahs by Re. Falkov
    Louise Sebba (my late mother was A Silke .

  18. This Boland history is quite amazing, and the Boerejode remind me so much of the Plattelandjode, of whom my late grandfather, Moses Isaac Eliastam, late of Riga, Latvia, as well as my late Dad, Max and all his brothers, were fine examples.
    I wonder whether a similar history has ever been penned about this equally-influential Transvaal/Free State Boerejood community?

    1. Glen
      There is a series of books titled Jewish Life in the South African Country Communities.
      Volume 5 covers Tvl and OFS and besides the history, list all the family names of Jews who have ever lived in each town. Available from most Jewish Bookshops in SA.


    Please refer to my (above) message to you of 28 May 2016. I am still hoping that you will let me have your email address so that I can forward to you the stuff I have gathered about the Goldberg family in the Strand.

    Can someone please ask Trevor to email me.
    VERNON KATZ, Sydney.

  20. Fascinating reading.
    My name is Ron Kaplan and I was born and grew up in Cape Town but I do have a tenuous connection to the Boland.
    In about 1914-15 ( I think) my late Father Asher Kaplan ( much later a well known Bookmaker in Cape Town) worked in Wolseley as a labourer in the grain store of the Katzenellenbogen Family.
    I know very little detail of this time but I visited Wolsely some years ago and found the original building!
    (Guided there by a young Konstabel whose family had worked there in those earlier years!)

  21. Beryl Baleson provides a list of the earliest Jew in the Strand. The list includes Joel Dorfan from Kovna. To be more precise, Joel Dorfan came from Birzai. The Zionist Record article of June 27, 1947 on this website, says that “Mr. J. Dorfman became the President….” I believe this should be “Mr. J. Dorfan became President…”, it being the same Joel Dorfan mentioned above.

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