The Boerejode of the Boland


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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IMG_3576  IMG_5867 IMG_5866


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.

elirab Home



A Stone with a Story by Richard Shavei Tzion


The following article was written by my wife’s cousin, Richard Shavei Tzion.

It has just appeared in Ezra magazine in Israel.

Richard has kindly given me permission to repost it.

He writes beautifully in addition to all the other amazing talents he has – see his bio.

Click on What I Call Beschert

On the subject of the Saevitzon family, below is a video of their Pesach Seder in Cape Town in 1954.

It includes the Bloch and Reitstein families.

Chag Pesach Sameach





Know Your Kehila – Brest


This is the first in a series called: Know Your Kehila. This week we feature  Brest. More details and information can be found on the Brest KehilaLink

Kehila #1.001

Kehila #1.002

Dovid Katz Maps

Kehila #1.003

Kehila #1.004

Kehila #1.005

Brest Yizkor Books

Kehila #1.006


Kehila #1.007

Menachem Begin

Kehila #1.008

36 Letters by Joan Sohn

Slide 9.001

Distance Calculator

Please send your replies to comments below or to

For the list of KehilaLinks we plan to feature in this series, see:

New Jewish Websites & Shemot


In honour of the Jewish Pedlar or Smous – see Graaf Reinet KehilaLink


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My article about the Shanghai KehilaLink has been published in the April 2016 edition of Shemot, the publication of the JGS of Great Britain.

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My interest in family history started in 1992, after my cousin wrote seven ancestors’ names down on a scrap piece of paper.

I have had many genealogical success stories since then. This is due to my often unorthodox, multi focused approach, described by my daughter in law as “tangential”!

In 2011 I visited Eastern Europe for the first time. My heritage travels have taken me back four additional times. I have visited Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

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I started writing KehilaLinks in 2011, the first being for Orla, near Bialystok in Poland in 2011.

What is a KehilaLink:

JewishGen KehilaLinks (formerly “ShtetLinks”) is a project facilitating web pages commemorating the places where Jews have lived.  KehilaLinks provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest in a place to create web pages about that community.  These web pages may contain information, pictures, databases, and links to other sources providing data about that place.

Kehila קהילה [Hebrew] n. (pl. kehilot קהילות): Jewish Community.  It is used to refer to a Jewish community, anywhere in the world.

Sites are hosted by JewishGen, the world’s largest Jewish genealogical organisation, an affiliate of the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City. JewishGen provides amateur and professional genealogists with the tools to research their Jewish family history and heritage.

People are invited to send in their own stories, photos and memoirs. There is no cost in participating in a KehilaLink and it is a great way to share one’s family history


My list has grown to 63 websites with 3 more in the pipeline.

The full list and links are available at

The Shanghai KehilaLink

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Ironically, the one place I have not been to is Shanghai! Yet, I have been drawn to it by its connection to the Jewish people and especially because of the story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul in Kovno, the capital of Lithuania during WWII. Against his government’s wishes, Sugihara issued transit visas to Jews, enabling them to get to Shanghai, and therefore saved many lives. The story only surfaced in the 1970s. See  Rabbi Levi Wolff of Sydney Central Synagogue:

The video:

Sugihara also appears on several of  my other KehilaLinks: Mir in Belarus, Kedainiai in Lithuania, and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.

See also:

Four New South African KehilaLinks

This week we went live with:


Graaff Reinet



Please visit the sites. If you have connections to these towns or cities, please contact me.

There are already some interesting contributions:

Read about the tribute to the Jewish pedlar (smous) from Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft


Photos of the Wertheim family from Amanda Katz Jermyn: Read Amanda’s story:


Amanda’s grandfather’s uncle, Hermann Wertheim, his wife Mathilde, and children Julius, Max, Fanny and Fritz who lived in Graaff-Reinett. It was taken in about 1892


The general store, Wille & Wertheim, formerly Baumann Bros., where Amanda’s grandfather, August Katz came to work for his uncle Hermann Wertheim.

August Katz, Boer War

August Katz, Amanda’s grandfather, in his British Boer War uniform


Grave of Fritz Wertheim, son of Mathilde and Hermann Wertheim. Hermann was a brother of Amanda’s great-grandmother, Mathilde Wertheim.

Kol Tuv