Doornfontein Shtetl Walking Tour


Again on this weekend, Sunday the 3rd July 2016

Check with Ishvara for details!

You will walk through the old Jewish neighbourhood of Doornfontein Johannesburg.

Some of the highlights include :
* the Lion Shul : 1906
* Yiddishe Arbeiter Klub : the Jewish Workers Club : 1928
* the Alhambra Theatre
* the Yiddishe Altesheim : Jewish Old Age Home
* Beit Hamedrash Hagodel : the Sherwell St Shul
* the first Greek Orthodox Church in Joburg : 1913
* the Beit St shops – Wachenheimers , Nussbaums etc
* the Ottoman Embassy : home of Henri Bettelheim
* the University of Johannesburg Campus
* the Jewish Govt School : IH Harris Primary
* the Hebrew High School : Talmud Torah
* the old Victorian homes on Sivewright St
* the Great Synagogue on Wolmarans St : 1914


If you wish to attend, please confirm that there is available space by sending an email to : for banking details and further instructions

Space is limited – so confirmation is essential

Please note : men please bring a yarmulke for entering the synagogues and women please dress modestly.

To see my previous posts on the Doornfontein Walking Tour, visit:

Doornfontein Walking Tour – Part 1

There are 4 parts! Use this search engine to access all 4:

Also visit the Lion’s Shul on the Johannesburg KehilaLink



Jewish Doornfontein Part 2

Berele Chagy Soundclip


Ishvara Dhyan’s Walking Tour – the shuls in Doornfontein


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My thanks to Naomi Musiker of the archives at Beyachad for showing me this two volume set and to Rose Norwich for writing them and giving me permission to use extracts. Rose’s thesis has never been published. Hopefully someone will take on this project!

Rose and Naomi


Poswohl Synagogue

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Ponevez Shul

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Ponevez Sick & Benevolent Society 1949
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The First Chevra Kadisha on the grounds of the University of Johannesburg


Beth Hamedrash Hagadol – The Berele Chagy Shul. It is now a gym on the campus.


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Berele Chagy

Chagy – soundclip

ShtetLink logo



1. The world-famous cantor, Berele CHAGY (HAGGAI), was born in Dagda, Latvia on July 25, 1892. He emigrated to the United States in 1913.

(Information from Paul Silverman)

2. The famous Cantor (Chazan) Berele (Boris) CHAGY, the son of Yitzchak and Sheine CHAGY was from Dagda.

(Information from Eli Goldstein, Johannesburg, South Africa)

3. Berele Chagy was a great hazzan and officiated at Smolensk by 17. Later he had congregations in USA (New York, Detroit and Boston) and in South Africa (BETH HAMEDRASH HAGADOL). The last few years he was at the great Brooklyn shul Bethel (Bethel Synagogue created some rushes towards a movie of its great cantors). He went from Dagda to Riga to study, thence to Smoilensky (a cigarette case given to him with inscriptions in Hebrew “From the Hassids of Smolensk” is still in the family). Because of his youth he required special permission to be a cantor presiding there.

His father and his father’s father are supposed to have all been cantors. At nine he was accompanying his own father in singing and praying. One day he ran away to another village and was found davvening there!

He married very early a young woman, Esther, who was very active as a Zionist, though they never made aliyah together and she visited only late in life. His sons became philosophers and pianists. His grandchildren are in the arts.

He had a hard time escaping the army and came to America. He died while praying in Newark, New Jersey, in l954.

(He is listed in many Jewish encyclopedias.)
(His students – or those who sang under him are – interesting: From Jan Peerce and Danny Kaye to others.)

(Information from David Shapiro, New York, USA)

Any further information about Berele CHAGY (HAGGAI) will be greatly appreciated. Write to: Elsebeth Paikin


Marc Latilla’s blog


Next time – The Great Synagogue, Wolmarans Street.

Jeppestown Walking Tour

Ishvara Dhyan’s walking tour of Doornfontein two weeks ago was fabulous – a highlight of my visit to South Africa.

I will be posting my photographic memories of it shortly

Ish is leading another tour this weekend. I am not sure if there are places available, but email him at:

This is what he says:

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    The Jeppestown Walk  ~ on Saturday 27th Feb 2016

     ..will begin at 10 am  

     we are meeting at the HOUSE of BAOBAB No 20 Kruger St 

      at the Maboneng Precinct near Arts on Main – 

       there is secure parking in the surrounding streets.. the walk ends at the same place at approx 13h30 


   Jeppestown is Johannesburgs oldest residential suburb. (1889)

  We will visit many places of historical & cultural interest on the walk, including :

* the mosaics at Maboneng Precinct by artist Hannelie Coetzee
* the Jooste & Bryants Building ( Victorian Beauty)

* the Mentis Building ( Art Nouveau ) 
* the Jozi Mall ( Somali shops – designed as a result of xenophobia )
* old Jewish shops & homes of Jeppestown
* the scenes of the 2008 xenophobic attacks
* the Anglican Church – Joburgs oldest (still functioning) church
* the restaurant used in the movie “ Long Walk to Freedom “  
* traditional herbalist shops of Zulu Inyangas 
* scene of the Jeppestown massacre 2006

* the first Lithuanian Shul 1903 – 1926
* the Main Jeppestown Synagogue 1926 -2002
* Salisbury House – Philosophy school 1903
* St James Preparatory School 1905 

We return to the Maboneng Precinct for an optional lunch  at your own expense

( Senegalese buffet ) at ” The House of Boabab ”  restaurant.
Cost : R150-00 per person