Jewish South African Genealogy


Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy
Special Interest Group (SA-SIG)

Editor: Dr Saul Issroff
Copyright © 1999 Saul Issroff, Mike Getz, SAfrica SIG
and Jewishgen Inc.

Web-site URL:
This page URL:
File size: 2 A4 pages when printed
Revised: 23 December 1999
Webmaster: Roger Harris


levywed.jpg (47249 bytes)

The wedding of the Reverend Abraham Levy (a graduate of Jews College) to
Fanny Morris, daughter of Elizabeth Sandeman, Durban 1907

(Collection of Ann Sarzin).


Specific information about individuals or communities may often be obtained from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. The Board controls cultural, educational, religious and social activities. They will arrange for publication of a family query in the Jewish press at no charge.

Synagogue records can provide a wealth of information.

Synagogues and communal records include:

These will generally give the full names and surnames of both parties, their ages, occupations, marriage authorisation certificates and the names of witnesses, and Rabbi. Marriage authorisation certificates and copy Ketubot (marriage certificates) and GETs (religious divorce documents) [Hebrew spelling: gimel,tet].
Synagogue Minute Books:
These can have very varied genealogical information; a secondary source.

Many communities have ceased to exist and their records can be found in the Board of Deputies Library or the Kaplan Centre, Cape Town.

Religious Institutions:

Orthodox : The Office of the Chief Rabbi is not very helpful. However they do answer written requests for copies of marriage and divorce certificates. (United Hebrew Congregation) There is also a strong Lubavich movement and smaller Sephardi and Masorti congregations. There are 48 Orthodox Religious groups listed in Johannesburg.

Reform communities keep separate records. Reform in South Africa is similar to Conservative in Great Britain. (United Progressive Jewish Congregation of Johannesburg). Many Jews remain with a strong identity but outside the religious net. Intermarriage is very common, but emigration is the main limiting factor to population growth.


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