Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy SA-SIG
Chaim Charutz's story
Editor: Dr Saul Issroff
Copyright © 2004 Saul Issroff, Mike Getz, SAfrica SIG
and Jewishgen Inc.
New: January 2004
In October 2003, Chaim Charutz wrote:
By chance, I recently read a series of articles edited by [Dr Saul Issroff] on South African Synagogues. There are two such synagogues with which I have some connection in the past and some minor information which may helpful in adding to them. My family lived in Oranjezicht, Cape Town from 1954 to the late 1970's, when my father passed away in 1975 and my mother came on aliya in 1977. During this period, my family were members of the Schoonder Street Shul and my father's brother was a member of the Vredehoek Shul. These two shuls were fairly close to each other geographically (about 200-300 meters apart).
The connection that we had with these shuls extended back to a period even before we moved to Cape Town. My parents lived in a village called Tulbagh, about 100 miles north of Cape Town from the 1930's until 1954. During our stay in Tulbagh, my maternal grandfather was a member of the Schoonder Street Shul (previously the Roeland Street Shul).
During our last few years in Tulbagh, the Rabbi of the Vredehoek Shul was Rabbi Duschinsky, who was also a senior member of rhe Western Cape Beth Din. At the time, the only winery to manufacture wine that was Kosher for Pesach in the Western Cape was a winery about three miles away from Tulbagh. This meant that, before Pesach the Cape Beth Din was required to send a group of Mashgichim to check up on the Kashrut of the "Kosher Lepeisach" wine. The head of this delegation was usually Rabbi Dushinsky, accompanied by a group of young jewish men (usually Yeshiva Bochers, University students or senior members of the Zionist Youth movements, all of them from frumer Jewish families). Since we were the only Jewish Family in the region, and my mother kept a kosher household, this delegation ended up staying with us. We had no choice but to put them up, in order to keep up our reputations in the Western Cape Jewish community. Actually, it was usuallly great fun having them there, even if the house became a bit crowded for a while.
In the late 1950's Rabbi Duschinsky went on aliya but came back to Cape Town about 10 or 15 years later. At the time, the Schoonder Street Shul was looking for a Rabbi, and he offered his services for a nominal fee. By the way, for a few months before my aliya, he offered me his assistance in improving my "colloquial" Hebrew. This eventually turned out to be very useful when I attended Ulpan in Israel, and the teachers were surprised at how quickly I picked up the local lingo. I had to explain that I'd picked up a lot of the local slang from a Rabbi in Cape Town (without mentioning names at the time, of course).
I hope that these stories help to explain how and when Rabbi Duschinsky was connected with both the Vredehoek Shul and the Schoonder Street Shul.