Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy SA-SIG
South African Jewish Communities
By Ann Rabinowitz
Editor: Dr Saul Issroff
Copyright © 1999 Saul Issroff, Mike Getz, SAfrica SIG
and Jewishgen Inc.
Revised: 22 December 1999
The community of Paarl was an attractive place for many Jews to settle as early as the
1850's. As can be seen in the Excel sample database that follows, the earliest settlers were
the Dutch, followed by the Germans, Latvians and Lithuanians. The Lithuanians particularly
came to makeup the majority of the Jewish population and towns such as Birziai, Plunge,
Rokiskis and Siauliai were familiar places of origin among the residents.
The database has been organized to provide researchers with basic information about the
families that lived in Paarl. Individuals are invited to provide additional information in
the future. Although there are only five columns in the database at present, as new
information is obtained, this will be expanded upon.
A description of the database follows:
First and Last Name
The first and last name of the Paarl resident reflects exactly how the name was spelled
in the source from which it was taken. As many times people adjusted the spelling of their
name or were known by various names related to their Yiddish or new English names, it
suggested that the researcher keep an open mind when looking for a particular person or
family. Where the name has changed, the old name is to be found in parenthesis and women
are usually listed by their married name with their maiden name in parenthesis where
You will note that the families listed below, for instance, became known by a
different name in South Africa according to Charles Press and Cyril Orolowitz:
Davidowitz to Davis
Koloditzky to Myers
Melamed to Bloom
Noll to Nelson
Orelowitz to Orolowitz
Shleimowitz to Solomon
Veldman to Feltman
Zalkov to Barnett
The sources for compiling the database have been abbreviated and two initials are used
as described below:
CO - The majority of the cemetery data was provided by Cyril Orolowitz, but the
data is listed under the source CE. However, when a person from Paarl left and was
buried elsewheres, the data is attributed to Cyril as CO.
CP- This refers to the book written by well-known Paarl Jewish historian Charles
Press entitled "The Light of Israel, The Story of the Paarl Jewish Community,"
published in 1993. While this publication does not contain all the family names from
Paarl, it is a good general resource for both names and photographs. The sample database
contains approximately half of the references to be found in the book. When the database
is enlarged at a later date, the remainder of the references will be included.
CE - There are two cemeteries in Paarl, the old and the new. The data that is
included in the sample database was obtained in 1997 from Debby Myers whose husband
Charles is from Paarl and his cousin who was my guide, Cyril Orolowitz. Unfortunately, I
was not able to collect information on all the graves, but I did take several photographs
as did Debby Myers.
According to both Cyril and Charles Press, the old cemetery became a reality in 1894
with the burial of Rebecca Miller, the wife of Abraham Miller. Prior to that, burials took
place in Cape Town. Due to the diversity of the Jewish population, the old cemetery has
the distinction of tombstones in five languages: Dutch, English, German, Hebrew and
Yiddish. The old cemetery has many tombstones that have fallen over and others where the
inscriptions have been obliterated by time, but for the most part, it is in fairly good
condition for such an historic place. It was closed in 1938 and the new cemetery was
opened that year.
IM - The South African Jewish Board of Deputies Immigration Registers, 1924-1929,
contain approximately 16,000 entries for Jewish immigration. The passenger destination is
listed by street address and town. The terms Noorder and Zuider Paarl are often used to
distinguish the Paarl addresses from those of other towns and villages.
NA - The Cape Colony Jewish Naturalization Registers, 1903-1907, have approximately
1,253 entries, a few of which are from Paarl. As many of the entries do not have a proper
address such as street and town, it is sometimes difficult to determine where the person
actually lived. Therefore, there may be many more Paarl residents listed in the registers
under unknown addresses or limited address information.
Town and Country
Data on the places of origin for Paarl residents is provided in the database where
known and the modern-day spelling of the town and country are used. In some cases, the
spelling from the original source was so undecipherable that it was left that way when
entered into the database. For instance, towns such as Soslie or Joslie may actually be
the town of Zasliai and towns such as Carelles, Haradust, Kuherdof, Rarust, Ruhdisk and
Yusiat are so strangely spelt that they are not found in any of the usual reference
sources for town names such as "Where Once We Walked" by Gary Mokotoff and
Sallyann Amdur Sack. All these can probably be worked out by further research being
undertaken into other community or family resources.
As this is only a sample database, there are many things that need to be added to make
it a really comprehensive look at the Paarl community. A listing of burials from the two
cemeteries in Paarl is an instance of the type of information that is available, but that
has not yet been compiled in its entirety for this database.
Now that you have an idea of the types of data that have been put in the Paarl
database, take a look yourself and enjoy!