Kimberley Ex-Pats Newsletter no 24, September 2019
Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach MBE London, and Leon Chonin Toronto, September 2019 (with responses and memories from far flung ex-pats at the end)
High Holidays in Kimberley
I am sure we all have our memories of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the beautiful Kimberley shul.
I can remember as a child, the palm trees, the shul lit up; the stained glass windows; the new dresses and shoes put on; and climbing those magnificent spiral stairs with the rich thick royal blue, emerald green and ruby red carpet, up to the ladies’ gallery – which was full to capacity.
I remember entering the swing doors at the rear, being a small child just seeing the backs of the pale wooden pews, and above them, some magnificent large-brimmed hats, catching a whiff of different perfumes, Chanel no 5 and Antelope, and hearing the contented and sometimes excited murmurings or singing of the men downstairs. (See the staircase and other pics here) https://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kimberley/Shul.html#11
It’s sad for us to realise now that with only a handful of families left, the ladies gallery is no longer used. It is however, wonderful and amazing to know there has just been a beautiful community wedding bringing the synagogue back to life, and that services are still happening each week. For the High Holydays the Yeshiva Bocherim who first came in 2000 as schoolboys still come – now with their own families to make Kimberley a glorious holy place over the Yomim Norayim. If anyone within reach is looking for a service to attend – you will get a magnificent one in Kimberley – and as Barney always says, you are sure of a front row seat.
Actually, we CAN all be back there in Kimberley in some way. If we ask Barney, he will mention the names of our family in the service on Yom Kippur. Then we, and the community there, can feel we are present with them in celebrating the High Holydays. And what is more, the donation we make to the Kimberley Yom Kippur Appeal will give strength and support to Barney and those still tasked with the burden of looking after Jewish life and the buildings as well as the cemeteries where our loved one lie. Our donation as Ex-Pats will also show them that we recognise and thank them for the great job they do on the spot.
I am going to ask Barney to mention the names of my parents Beryl and Noel Kretzmar and also my grandparents, Amalie and Jacob Bergman, and maybe also our darling late daughter Loren who loved holidaying with her grandparents in Kimberley. She sadly passed away from cancer in December 2011 aged 48. She and her husband, the famous guitarist and songwriter Bert Jansch, are buried side by side in Highgate Cemetery.
Here is a picture of Loren visiting the graves of her great grandparents Amalie and Jacob Bergman on a trip to Kimberley in 1998.
I will donate at least £50 per name mentioned. If we all did that, then we would in some way be there together again. If you join me, all our family’s names would resonate around the buildings again. (My father was always called upon to read the story of Jonah on Yom Kippur – or is it Job?)
As Leon Chonin, our co-editor says ‘I am obviously very concerned that we, (the Ex-Pats, who write the Newsletters and have created a lasting memorial to those there in the past in the website, https://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kimberley/Home.html) should have a good working relationship with Barney and the remaining Jews in Kimberley. We would like them to recognize that we are working towards the same goals of the recognition of those that are and were in Kimberley. What we are doing is carefully preserving the history of our community for future generations.
Leon continues, ‘I am sure you are all aware though that with the declining Jewish population in South Africa, the Board of Deputies who previously supported the smaller communities has been struggling to provide the necessary financial backing to these. Barney is now himself Chairman of the new group tasked to take this role.
‘The very small community now left in Kimberley still needs to maintain the facilities that once had the support of nearly 200 Jewish families. The most important concern is to maintain and protect the Jewish cemeteries where our loved ones now rest in peace. They at least, deserve our support to ensure that the grounds are secure and that the tombstones are not damaged.
‘We want to appeal to all our ex-Pats to consider making a donation this Yom Kippur to the Kimberley community for the maintenance of the cemeteries. We understand that the other non-Jewish cemeteries receive support from the City Council but unfortunately no allocation is made to the upkeep of the Jewish cemeteries. Our appeal is for any amount you are able to consider which will go some way to ensuring that our loved ones continue to rest in a tranquil place.’
This is how you do it. Contact Barney to tell him what names to mention at Adrian B. Horwitz firstname.lastname@example.org. Then make a transfer to the community bank account as follows:
The bank details of the Congregation are as follows:
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch Code: 050002
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ
Account Name: Griqualand West Hebrew Congregation
Account Number: 04-005-444-6
I will ask Barney to convey to all still in Kimberley over these high holidays the wishes of the ex-pats for a sweet, peaceful and productive year ahead for everyone – and to make them aware of the website which is a lasting memorial to the active Jewish life in Kimberley in the mid-20thcentury.
And that is also the wish from Leon and myself, and our wonderful webmaster Eli Rabinowitz, to all our Kimberley ex-Pats around the world.
Best wishes from
Geraldine Auerbach MBE London, email@example.com
Leon Chonin, Toronto, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can use this link to read about the wonderful wedding weekend in Kimberley created for Barney’s daughter Ida to Zach Lieberman on 15 September 2019. We are so glad that many ex-pats were able to attend.
In response to this Newsletter 24,we have received some amazing recollections of High Holydays in Kimberley including these below:
Gwynne Robins (née Schrire) writes:
I remember sitting upstairs in a fluffy white angora bolero my Mom had knitted for me and pulling off bits of fluff and watching them floating down to stick onto the men’s hats and jackets below.
And worse – the pictures here seem to show that the railings upstairs have been changed. They used to be of brass with solid brass balls on top, here and there and I remember playing with the ball, screwing and unscrewing it until – oops – it fell out of my fingers!
I watched in horror. Fortunately, instead of braining some unfortunate soul underneath, the heavy brass bullet landed onto an empty hat placed on a seat.
And Daphne Gillis (née Toube) writes from Cape Town
Thanks as always, Geraldine and Leon, for the interesting information and the amazing photos of the Kimberley Shul. They certainly brought back many memories.
Earlier this week my son, Glenn, went to a memorial service for Alan Goldberg at Highlands House. When I asked him why the service was there, he said that Alan had spent a lot of time there, conducting services, etc because his mother, Nan (née Sagar from Kimberley), lived there.
Alan was the grandson of Mr and Mrs Bernard Goldberg, very wealthy and one of the most prominent members of the Kimberley Jewish community. Mrs B (Sarah) played cards with my parents, (Violet and Abie Toube) and was the first person I had ever met who had a white lady companion. She sat in the middle of the front row in the Shul, right above the bimah and facing the Ark. When we all stood up during the service, she would place her hands on the shiny brass railing around the upstairs seats. We always said it was to show off the wonderful diamond rings her husband gave her.
Mr and Mrs B, as they were called, had three sons, Sam who was a doctor in Muizenberg, Alfie who lived in Kimberley (not sure what he did there), but later owned a garage near the overhead bridge entrance to Muizenberg. The third son was Dudley, married to Nan Sagar….they were Alan’s parents.
One other anecdote from my youth was that Alf Goldberg almost stopped my marriage. He was an avid radio ham, and this had apparently caused a great deal of tension in his own marriage. When my fiancé Harry told my mother that he too was a radio ham, she said that we could not get married because he wouldn’t have time to be a proper husband!!!!
63 years later we are still married!
Not sure how much information you have about the Goldberg family. They were certainly one of the most prominent Kimberley families in my youth.
Once again, Chag Sameach, and kindest regards to all from Harry and Daphne Gillis.
David Friedman writes from Los Angeles
The Kimberley shul brings back such memories. I can still remember it from the time we first left Kimberley, shortly after war broke out which means I must be going back nearly 80 years.
One unusual feature was that the gabboyim sat in a sort of enclosure in front of the bimah. I seem to think that Noel (Kretzmar) was once amongst those sitting in this place of honour.
It was of course the shul in which my parents were wed in 1932. One thing in later years that always struck me as incongruous was the fact that this beautiful edifice had a corrugated iron roof – of course all the houses in Kimberley at the time had similar roofs
But it also brings back bitter-sweet memories. My mom Katie (née Bergman) died the weekend before Herbert and Jennifer Hendler’s son Mark’s barmitzvah. We decided we would nonetheless go to the barmitzvah and as is the custom on the Friday night service I had to wait outside until the point in the service where mourners were asked to come in. That was 42 years ago and the last time I was in the Kimberley shul . Much love to you and your family and best wishes for the New Year from the Los Angeles branch of the Bergman family
June Haberfeld writes from Johannesburg
Hi Geraldine and Leon
Thank you for the informative and interesting newsletters. Even though I was not born there, having married Ivor and lived there for 21 years, there is so much I can relate too.
I remember arriving in shul the first Yom Tov in 1971 the shul was so full there wasn’t a seat for me. In fact, I sat on the steps near my mother-in-law for 2 to 3 years eventually finding a place at the back on a chair. When I left, December 1991 my younger daughter, Nadine, and I were the only 2 ladies upstairs!!!!
My children and grandchildren went back a few weeks ago and had such a wonderful weekend of reminiscence. They are 3rdgeneration Haberfelds at both schools and had so much to see and show the little ones. They were most impressed with the 2 Haberfeld streets!
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year and an easy Fast.
Theo Klewansky writes from the USA
Superb! Thank you for making the effort to show such a magnificent example of a Jewish Historical Site, in such detail. May you and yours enjoy 5780, a year of Achievement, Success and Joy.
Geraldine’s friend in London, Janet Falush writes
That’s really a great newsletter Geraldine. I read the attachment as well. I can image what it must mean to the Kimberley diaspora. Your effort deserves copying by all those who want to conserve the memories of their community. But they would struggle to do it as well.
Jonathan Joseph writes from London
I thought you might like to know that I attended Barney’s daughter’s wedding in the Kimberley shul, last Sunday. She (Ida) married Zach Lieberman, a Johannesburg man. It was a beautiful and moving experience, very well attended by family and friends from all over the world. It was particularly moving for me because it was 72 years, almost to the day, since my own parents (Pamela Horwitz and Philip Joseph were married there. See:https://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kimberley/Joseph_2.htmlhttps://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/kimberley/Joseph.html
Hope to see you on Rosh Hashana at our own beautiful Belsize Square Synagogue, London Warmest regards, Jonathan
And Barney Horwitz writes from Kimberley
Many thanks Geraldine and Leon, I really appreciate your efforts as funding is a challenge.
I will certainly read out the names and your message at Yiskor on Yom Kippur. If there are any sick people in any ex-pats family, I am also willing to add them to our Mishebeirach list on the High Holy days.
The wedding was an amazing experience. One hundred and sixty people once more in the Kimberley Shul, it was very emotional for everyone there and the vigour with which everyone participated in the Israeli dancing at the reception was quite astounding. We are still here and who knows maybe your late father’s prediction might still come true. Noel used to say Jews will come back to Kimberley in their droves. Mandela used to say everything is impossible until its done. The wedding was such an event. Good Shabbas to you both.
This is our message that Barney says he will read out at Yizkor on Yom Kippur
The Association of Kimberley Ex-pats would like to wish all those celebrating the High Holidays in the Kimberley Shul, warmwishes for a sweet, peaceful and productive year ahead for everyone.
The Ex-pats regularly send round Newsletters about life in Kimberley. We have created a website that memorialises the families that lived there and the activities they undertook in the Jewish and wider Kimberley community. You can find it by googling Kimberley Jewish Community. If anyone present would like to be on the mailing list then please send Barney or Rabbi Silberhaft your email address – to pass on to Geraldine Auerbach (née Kretzmar) and Leon Chonin, or contact us via the Kimberley shul Facebook page.
Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach MBE London, and Leon Chonin Toronto, September 2019