Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy SA-SIG
Springbok Hebrew Congregation
Editor: Dr Saul Issroff
Copyright © 2004 Saul Issroff, Mike Getz, SAfrica SIG
and Jewishgen Inc.
Date: 2 January 2004
My father was born in Worcester, Cape, on 12 August 1907. His father Marks Windisch had been a tailor but sadly died before my father’s Bar Mitzvah and they had to move to Cape Town when my father was about 12. My grandmother Ethel opened a boarding house to make ends meet. At this point he had three older sisters, the eldest of whom must have been about 20 or 21, one younger brother and an older brother who had left home under somewhat strained circumstances while his father was still alive.
When my father was still in his teens and having to work to help support his mother and some sisters who were still living at home. After a spell with Stein "White Jacket" in Plein Street my father decided to seek his fortune in Namaqualand and worked for Jewish shopkeepers who were already established there amongst whom I knew Boris Saharin who had a shop in Nababeep.
My father married Naomi Diamond on 1 June 1935 by which time he had saved enough money to open a shop in Springbok in partnership with Rachel Diamond, my mother’s oldest sister. The Diamonds lived in Kamieskroon. Solomon, my grandfather had left his wife Hannah who was then obliged to provide for her 5 children Zalman, Rachel, Hettie, Rebecca, and Naomi. By the time I became aware of things in the mid 1940s there were quite a few Jewish families living in Springbok and a few others in surrounding villages.
The Shul was in Springbok. It had seats for perhaps 80 men and for about 40 women in an upper gallery. It must have been quite a busy place in at Rosh Hashonnah. Next door was the original shul which had at one time belonged to the Dutch reformed church and was then used for communal functions. The Shul was a white painted building with a fine arched doorway with doors leading to the upper gallery on either side and a cloakroom for hats and coats.
Inside past the swing door there were wooden benches in front of the raised Bimah and further benches at the sides with a proper Ark with doors, curtains and at least three Sefer Torahs. There were also boxes for the Rabbi and the Chairman.
There were additional chairs which could be placed in the rear section in the event of large numbers turning up during the High Holidays. During the time I was there religious services were conducted by Jack Sovinsky with occasional assistance from other members of the congregation. During high holidays a special cantor was imported from Cape Town. By the time I had my bar mitzvah in Springbok, certainly the last one held there on 9th April 1950 the congregation must have shrunk considerably. There was a minyan on most Fridays but often a little persuasion was necessary and the itinerant commercial travellers were a great help.
These were the families and individuals who lived there between 1945 and 1965 when my family ceased to have a direct connection with Springbok. As I do this from memory and I was very young during part of this period I may well have forgotten some people.
|Aubrey and Mark, Estelle(second marriage)
|Sam and Max
|Harold and Beryl
|Wholesale and retail Shopkeeper
|Raphael and Thelma
|Carole, Moira and Pamela
|Wholesale and retail Shopkeeper
|Israel and Tillie
|Edward and Selena
|Joseph and Rebecca(Bessie)
|Neil and Cecil
|Garage and Transport Business
|Simon and Doris
|Oscar and Reinette
|Jack and Sybil
|Doreen and Isabel
|Shop and Skin buyer. Also bought minerals
|Monty and Shoshana
|Alec and Joyce (nee Teperson)
|Shirley and Beverley
|Sidney and Naomi
Other families who lived either in the village or the surrounding villages and about whom I can recall little were Bernstein, Saharin, Geffin (Kamieskroon).
There were also commercial travellers who were regulars at Shul services. Harry Winokur, Stompie Witz, Sam Miller were names which I recall but there were others of course.
My father retired from business in 1966 and after that moved to Hermanus and other places nearer to Cape Town. Although he visited there from time to time I don’t think he had many links with the Springbok Jewish community. After that things must have got more and more difficult and I believe from the brochure compiled by Phyllis Jowell and Adrienne Folb that the congregation disbanded in 1972.
In that brochure in the photograph encaptioned "Holidaying in Port Nolloth," I think the lady in the hat, third from the right is my mother who died in 1985 and the lady to her left second from the right is her sister Rebecca. In the photograph "At the tennis in Springbok" I’m pretty sure that the seated gentleman with the hat is Boris Saharin and the dapper man in white with the white hat is Shappie Shapiro.
The Namaqualand Museum is housed in a former synagogue.