Elected to IAJGS Board

August 2020,  For release: Upon receipt

Contact: Sandra Golden, Publicity Chair, IAJGS, publicity@iajgs2020.org

Perth resident elected to International Jewish Genealogy Board                 

Eli Rabinowitz, a Perth, Australia, resident,  was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) at its International Jewish Genealogy Conference, presented virtually on Aug. 12.  The Conference drew more than 2300 registrants from 28 countries.

Eli  has researched his family’s genealogy and associated Jewish cultural history for over 30 years. A South African-born Australian, Eli has travelled extensively, writing about Jewish life, travel and education on his website, Tangential Travel and Jewish Life. https://elirab.me 

 Eli writes and manages 87 Jewishgen KehilaLinks, and over 750 WordPress posts. His articles have appeared in numerous publications. Eli has lectured internationally: at educational institutions, commemorative events, at IAJGS and other conferences, and online platforms.

He established the Partisans’ Song Project, and was awarded a U.S. government cultural grant for his WE ARE HERE! Human Rights and Social Justice initiative, https://wah.foundation.

Eli has an Economics Honours degree from the University of Cape Town.

IAJGS is an umbrella organization of more than 91 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide.  The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members. The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: www.iajgs.org and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/iajgsjewishgenealogy.  



They Are Returning – A Year On!

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania

Reflecting back to  June 2019

Rabbi Dan Fink

Bobbie Lamont

Eli Rabinowitz 

13 June 2019


They Are Returning


For video, click here:

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZXBEuPfeFc

Rabbi Dan Fink handing out gifts to students
With Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon
Photos of our group – descendants of Keidaners

At the school

At the cemetery

At the Holocaust site

Vale Simonas Dovidavicius. 

Standing between Laima Ardaviciene and me in Kėdainiai, Lithuania on 15 June this year. Simon passed away last week and was laid to rest on the 18th December 2019. 

With Rimantas Zirgulis


We Are Here – Now!

How an idea has progressed around the globe!

From: UK Jewish Telegraph Manchester – May 2018

To: Philadephia – April 2020


Australia 2019

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

For Upstanders – Founded by Eli Rabinowitz

Source: wah.foundation

Melbourne, Australia
The William Cooper Legacy

The Ark Centre Melbourne
Elder Shane & Rabbi Gabi
Barbara Miller & Federal Minister Ken Wyatt
With Viv Parry
Maroopna VIC, Australia 2019
Uncle Boydie, Maroopna VIC
London 2019 – World ORT
With Shoshana, Daniel & Edwin

Johannesburg  – ORT SA
Marcelle & Ariella
The Together Plan 2019
With Debra Brunner & Michael Mail in London
Birzh Lithuania 2019
Benny Rabinowitz
Aldone Shapiro & Emanuelis Zingeris MP at Birzh commemoration
Ambassadors to Lithuania
Kedainiai, Lithuania 2019
Keidaner descendants weekend at cemetery with Laima Ardaviciene 
Kedainiai Students

Israel 2019
Group at Yad Vashem

Belarus 2019

The welcome committee to Novogrudok – Tamara & Olga 
Nance Adler, Aron Bell- the last of the original Bielski with wife Henryka
Jerusalem Forest, Naliboki
IAJGS Conference in Cleveland 2019
With Saul Issroff, Roy Ogus & Henry Blumberg – all ex SA
South Africa

King David Victory Park, South Africa
Zog Nit Keynmol on Yom Hashoah 2020

Zog Nit Keynmol on Yom Hashoah 2020

South Africa  – Footage from SAJBD Facebook Live Stream with thanks

Source: youtu.be/ab_o311MR6Y

Choir Performances | WE ARE HERE!

Choir Performances | WE ARE HERE!

At Perth Modern School at Kristallnacht Commemoration on 10 November 2019 The joint choir of Ellenbrook Secondary College and Carmel High School The World Premiere performance at Ellenbrook Secondary

Source: wah.foundation/program/

Audience at Perth Modern School


Educational Projects in Lithuania

An email from Abel and Glenda Levitt

K’far Sava, Israel

Dear Birzaim,

The below e-mail and attachments were received today from Ingrida Vilkiene of Vilnius. Ingrida, the lady who introduced us to Birzai, heads the Kommisja’s educational projects. The Kommisija is a Lithuanian government body entrusted with the teaching of the Holocaust and the expulsion of Lithuanians to Siberia.

We have known Ingrida for many years and respect her for the quality of her work and her commitment to Holocaust Education in Lithuania..

Look carefully at the attachments, and read Ingrida’s comments about her programmes. The art work done by young Lithuanians who learn about the Jewish past, including their lives in towns and villages before the period of mass murder, is  of an extraordinary level, and the students and their teachers deserve much credit.

Try to share this mail plus attachments with family and friends so that they too may learn to appreciate the work of Tolerance Education in Lithuania.

We would appreciate your thoughts and comments, and your passing this on to family and friends around the world


Abel & Glenda Levitt

Dear Glenda and Abel,

I hope that you are well. I know that you follow about the situation in Lithuania and also, I think that you sometimes check our website and you know – what we do.

Now about the situation in Lithuania. At this moment – everything is connected with coronavirus and it isn’t funny, because today in Governmental building people said that all workers must be prepared to work from house, all conferences, commemorational and cultural events must be postponed.

I postponed all our activities in March – 2 seminars and one huge events, which is the final event of our project: https://www.komisija.lt/en/renginiai/getting-to-know-the-jewish-cultural-heritage/

It is the project about Jewish history, culture and students sent to us drawings. 2 days ago I was in Kedainiai (we prepared the exhibition), but the final event, which was planned on 27th of March, we postponed 2 days ago also. Now we have plan to organize it on 24th of April, but we will see – how it be with this coronavirus. I added to this e-mail some drawings – just for your interest. Please, look especially it is for Glenda, because you are very close connected with art.

Also, we had plan to participate in the March of the Living in Poland. Almost everything was planned for that (I booked bus, hotels, I had teachers and students who were prepared for participation). Today I postponed it, because I got the information, that officially this event is postponed and the organizers have plan to make it on 22 of July (the date of liquidation of Warsaw Ghetto or 9 -10 November – the date of Kristallnight (in 1938). So, we will see, what happens in the future, but of course, our plan to visit with teachers and students Poland is still exists.

So, I added some drawings from this project to this e-mail.

Regards from Vilnius and take care.

Ingrida Vilkiene



Lithuania Alita (Alytus) Aran (Varena) Balbieriškis Birzh (Birzai) Druskieniki (Druskininkai) Keidan (Kedainiai) Kibart (Kybartai) Kopcheve (Kapciamiestis)  Koshedar (Kaisiadorys) Mariampol (M…

Source: elirab.me/kehila


The 61st Yahrzeit of Isocher Zeldin

Socher’s passport. He was born in Dvinsk (today Daugavpils)  Latvia
He passed away in Cape Town on Guy Fawkes Day – 5 November 1958
He re-established himself and his family  in Cape Town South Africa
On Muizenberg Beach
 Socher’s descendants around the world
Socher and Chasa Zeldin
and their six daughters  left Riga for South Africa between 1927 to 1937.
Two sons were left behind. Moisey died in the Holocaust, David survived.
Socher and Chasa, their 5 married daughters and their husbands.
Socher’s other children
David Zeldin
Chana Zeldin


11 of the 15 his Cape Town grandchildren.

Leon Spiller’s Barmitzvah – Socher is not in the photo!
With his mate Charlie Slivkin
Socher passed away on Guy Fawkes Day – 5 Nov 1958 aged 77.
Family reunion in Cape Town in the 80s
Socher’s late grandson Mendel and Mendel’s daughter Bella, Mendel’s nieces Alla &  Mira, and Mendel’s great niece Angela.
Socher’s 2 x great grand daughter Lucy’s wedding in NY in 2010
Socher’s grand daughter Zara and her late brother Mendel’s NY & Toronto families in 2017
Socher’s grand daughter  Zara, her daughters Mira and Alla and Avram-Yakov in Toronto
In Brooklyn NY with Bella, Lucy, Estee, Jonathan, Alex & my brother Michael – meeting for the first time.

Leonard Reitstein – Mr Chess

Leonard Reitstein

Born in Cape Town on 6th June 1928

Died in Cape Town on 2nd August 2019

Age 91

With daughter, Jill Rabinowitz

August saw the passing of Leonard R Reitstein, aged 91, much admired and respected member of the Cape Town Jewish community, particularly Temple Israel, and as South Africa’s “Mr Chess”. 

Leonard’s father Julian was a founder member of the Progressive Judaism movement in Cape Town in the 1940s and brought his son in, where he rose to be President of Temple Israel. Leonard’s admiration and enthusiasm for the Reform movement and his high regard for Rabbi David Sherman, saw him fully committed, and even more so when he and his wife Ruth moved next door to the Temple in Wynberg! Besides presidential and general duties, his contribution included his role as Editor of the annual magazine, and leader of many shiurim and lay services.

Leonard was a man of great intellect, blessed with a sharp mind, quick wit and erudition. His general knowledge was wide and often obscure, his interests ranging from music (he hosted classical soirees), maths (he calculated without a calculator), history, religion, literature, cricket and cryptic crosswords (he called himself a cruciverbalist). He delighted nothing more than to encourage his grandchildren to discuss with and question or challenge him on all topics.

In the words of Rabbi Richard Newman, “He made me think, made me see things from a different perspective, made me realise that here was a man to whom I could turn, for advice and counsel. Here was a man whose knowledge was only superceded by his wisdom. There was a wealth of life, welling forth, a font of meaningful words backed up by well-tempered thought. Here was a saintlike mortal, stretching out his hands to those around him.”

Leonard is regarded as the person who has made the greatest and longest impact on South African chess. Former SA champion David Friedgood describes him as “truly South Africa’s Mr Chess”, with a background as player and correspondence player, captain of the SA team to various internationals and Olympiads, and organizer of major chess events, as well as a stint as President of the SA Chess Federation. Leonard was a chess resource, buying and selling books and publications, and at one stage his home library was regarded as the largest in the southern hemisphere! He single-handedly compiled The South African Chess Player magazine, publishing it for over thirty years, and wrote several Test Your Chess books and other works. His magnum opus, A History of Chess in South Africa, was a labour of love for the game and sold internationally, its author a major force and reputation.

Dr Lyndon Bouah, Director of Sport & Recreation, Western Cape Government, has been appointed as the custodian of Leonard’s “chess world”. He says, “As I have known Mr Reitstein for over twenty years I was honoured and privileged to be requested to be the custodian. The chess material consists of books, magazines and particularly hundreds of copies of The South African Chess Player, documents, minute books, photographs and memorabilia.” These are being collated and digitised for a future public display in Leonard’s honour.

Leonard Raymond Reitstein was born in Cape Town on 6th June 1928. He was the third child of Polish born Julian, and first of English born Greta. His older siblings were Claude and Raie (Gurland) and his younger, Maurice, all deceased.

He attended Sea Point Boys and Oudsthoorn School, and graduated as a bookkeeper accountant. Most of his working life was at Blumberg & Kleinman and for the Jewish Board of Deputies.

Leonard married Ruth Saevitzon of Wynberg in 1953; a long, happy and devoted partnership that lasted over sixty five years. They lived in Newlands and Wynberg, and moved into Highlands House two years ago.

Leonard is survived by his wife Ruth and his children Jillian, Anthony and Michelle. He has five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, living as far afield as Cape Town, Ra’anana, Sydney, Perth and London!

Jill Rabinowitz, daughter

Perth, Australia

6th September 2019

The Cape Jewish Chronicle



Translation using Google Translate:

A life: SA Chess loses a giant with Reitstein’s death

 By Herman Lategan 13 October 2019 00:02

A highly respected member of the local Jewish community and the man who for many years served as South Africa’s Mr. Chess, Leonard Reitstein, recently died in Cape Town. He was 91.

Leonard Reitstein: A versatile person.

Former SA chess champion David Friedgood says Reitstein is considered the person who may have had the biggest influence on chess on the ground so far.

Not only was he an active player, he won several tournaments, as far back as 1961. Reitstein was also president of the Cape Chess Club, as well as the SA Chess Federation.

He played this game in various places around the world, even in Cuba in 1966, where he met Fidel Castro. There he was the captain of the SA chess team during an Olympics.

His contribution was dynamic. He has published numerous books on the subject, including Test Your Chess. Reitstein’s magnum opus, however, was the coffee table book A History of Chess in South Africa, which received international recognition.

He has published numerous books on chess.

His collection of books, photos and memorabilia is believed to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere on the subject. His collection also eventually developed into a bookstore in the small, a home business he operated from his home in Newlands, Cape Town.

“My dad also published The South African Chess Player magazine himself,” says his son Anthony. “The whole family really helped. We posted them to people. There were many! One child had to put the magazines in the envelopes, another had to put up the seals, then another had to lick and apply the envelopes again. My mother wrote the addresses in a neat handwriting on it. It was a whole family affair.”

“My parents also loved horse racing. I remember how he took us to the stables as kids to talk to the horses and caress them. ”

His daughter Jill from Perth: “He was a connoisseur of English and knew words in all their shades. He completed every crossword puzzle imaginable in record times. His general knowledge was not only wide, but also completely obscure.

“Throughout the day he worked at Blumberg & Kleinman in the city, where people could buy porcelain ware, cutlery and even diamonds. Then for the Jewish Board of Deputies. He was charming and always wore a neat suit, with a nice tie. “

Reitstein and Fidel Castro.

Reitstein’s father, Julian, was a founding member of the Progressive Judaism Movement in the 1940s in Cape Town and has been a faithful and devoted member of Temple Israel all his life. He took his faith seriously and lived it to the full, so much so that the family later moved out of Newlands into Wynberg next to the temple.

Reitstein was versatile. He could make complicated sums without the help of a calculator. Their home became known for classical soirees, where afterwards talks were held on history, religion, cricket and every subject imaginable.

Born in Cape Town, Reitstein attended school at Sea Point Primary School for Boys and later Oudtshoorn High School. His father was a Polish refugee and businessman and his mother, Greta, an artist and poet. He married his wife, Ruth Saevitzon, in 1953.

He is survived by his wife and three children. Reitstein has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, all over the world from Cape Town to Ra’anana in Israel, Sydney and Perth in Australia and London. † Leonard Raymond Reitstein, born June 6, 1928, passed away August 2, 2019.

With children Michelle, Anthony & Jill and wife Ruth nee Saevitzon 
J-WIRE AusTralia


The Cape Times

The Argus

They Are Returning

Atzalynas Gimnazija, Kedainiai Lithuania

13 June 2019


They Are Returning


For video, click here:

Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZXBEuPfeFc

Rabbi Dan Fink handing out gifts to students
With Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon
Photos of our group – descendants of Keidaners

At the school

At the cemetery

At the Holocaust site

Upcoming Talks In Israel

KDS Linksfield

Jerusalem,  23 June 19

Telfed Jerusalem Wits Zionist Council Event June 23rd 2019 PDF
Jerusalem Talk 19


Ra’anana 27 June 19

Eli Rabinowitz 27 June 2019
William Cooper – The Upstander
Jesse John Fleay, ECU
Bialik Toronto
Herzlia CT
Herzlia & World ORT collaboration
Beis Aharon Bielski School and Orphanage | Yad Yisroel in Pinsk

For more information, visit

WE ARE HERE! An Education Program That Inspires Upstanders

WE ARE HERE! For Upstanders

For Upstanders

Source: wah.foundation

The Maccabean, 7 June 2019