The Bloch Sefer Torah

Aphraim and Chava Bloch. Chava’s maiden name was Cynkin
Aphraim and Chava’s Ketuba  9 January 1891 –  Mir, today in Belarus

More about Aphraim and Chava and the Bloch & Cynkin Families:

Beverly Jacobson (middle) & her children

The visit to Cape Town from Israel by Beverly Jacobson and her children on a “roots” trip precipitated the search for the Sefer Torah her great grandfather, Aphraim Bloch, donated to Highlands House back in 1948.

The last time it was “seen” by a family member was by Beverly’s brother, Richard Shavei Tzion.

Richard: ‘This occurred in 1998, exactly 50 years after it was dedicated to my Great-grandmother Chava Bloch and to their daughter Rachel who I am named after.

While going through old family documents, I discovered a “Cape Times” article dated 1948, describing the dedication of a Sefer Torah which had been donated by my late great-grandfather Efraim Bloch to the shul at Highlands House, the Jewish retirement home.

Intrigued by this, I spoke to my friend, who together with his sons takes a very active role in conducting the Shul Services there. I asked him if he could identify the scroll, and indeed he found the inscription on the handles of a beautiful Sefer in the Aron Hakodesh. When it turned out that I would be visiting Cape Town, I asked if I could see it. The shul responded by suggesting that I attend a Shabbat Service, act as Ba’al Tefillah and be called up for “Maftir” using the scroll which my great-grandfather had donated. I was of course delighted to accept.

A number of relatives, amongst them descendants of Efraim Bloch, were present at the service. My feelings of family pride, personal humility and a sense of the closing of a circle were compounded when I was called up to the Torah. There I stood, a third generation descendant of Efraim Bloch. The reader pointed to the very first verse of the Aliya to which I had been called up and began to read. Of all the thousands of verses in the Torah, the one that commenced my Aliya read: “And Joseph saw Efraim’s children of the third generation…”’

Eli: ‘In August 2017,  my mother-in-law and grand-daughter of Aphraim Bloch, Ruth Saevitzon Reitstein, and my father-in-law, Leonard Reitstein, became residents at Highlands House.

On 14 March 2018 Ruth wrote to her niece Beverly Saevitzon Jacobson telling Beverly that there was no sign of her Zaida’s torah in the Highlands House shul.’

Ruth: ‘Rabbi Serwator inspected all five Torahs and could not identify the Sefer Torah. The only reason we can think of is that maybe the Torah was loaned to another shul and that’s where it is.

On 15 March 2018 Richard sent Ruth this  picture of the Sefer Torah in its mantle.

Richard: ‘The ID as I remember is a small silver strip on one of the wooden posts.’

On 17 March 2018,  Ruth wrote to her daughter Jill (my wife), here in Perth.

‘Hallelulah!!!!!  We found the TORAH!!!!!!. I went to shul this morning and Gilad Stern, Richard’s friend, took me to the ark and showed me the torah. It has markings on the Eitz Chaim.’

Photos taken by the family on 25 March 2018
Inscription on Bloch Torah
Aphraim Benyamin Bloch

Ruth & Leonard Reitstein at Highlands House. Ruth is Aphraim’s grand daughter
Beverly Saevitzon Jacobson & her children
Bloch descendants (and by marriage) at the Gardens Shul
The Descendants of Aphraim Bloch 
 Molotov
This interesting  article was written many years ago about Aphraim Bloch (mistakingly called Avraham Bloch in this article) and Molotov, the Foreign Miniser of the USSR.
The Geoff referred to in this article was the late Geoff Saevitzon, brother of Ruth Reitstein.  The mystery has never been solved.

I wrote several times to Vyacheslav Nikonov, grandson of Molotov, but he never responded!

Vyacheslav Nikonov – Wikipedia

Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov (Russian: Вячеслав Алексеевич Никонов, born in Moscow on June 5, 1956) is a Russian political scientist.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyacheslav_Nikonov 

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another torah donated to Highlands House
by Benny Rabinowitz

New home for Torah from Birzh

By: Gilad Stern

Date: 05 August 2015

Sefer Torah donated, with Good Hope

Reading the Torah on Shabbatot and yomtovim is a cornerstone of Jewish life.

But Torah scrolls are not easy to come by.  Both Highlands House Shul and

Tikva Tova, the egalitarian orthodox community, have benefitted from the

donation by Ben Rabinowitz of a Sefer Torah. The Rabinowitz family

originally brought a Sefer Torah from Birz, Lithuania to South Africa.  The

family were congregants at the Bellville Shul for much of the 20th Century.

The Bellville shul closed, and merged with Durbanville shul.  The Sefer

Torah which has now been placed at Highlands House has splendid calligraphy

– a clear script with distinctive character – the sofer (scribe) who created

it must have completed it as a labour of love and commitment.

The Torah cover was made this year at Astra, the Jewish sheltered employment

centre.  The design depicts Table Mountain and Cape Town, and bears the

words Tikva Tova, meaning Good Hope, a fitting design for a Torah cover at

the Cape of Good Hope.  The Torah cover has s dedication to the memory of

Shirley, Ben’s late wife, and to the Rabinowitz forebears who were part of

this community’s history.

Whilst the Torah will be housed at Highlands House, on Rosh Hashana and Yom

Kippur it will be used at the services of the egalitarian shul, Tikva Tova,

at the Herzlia High School hall.  Details on www.tikvatova.co.za

Source: kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/birzai/Torah.html

The Highlands House Synagogue