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SA Organisations

An ode to the Germiston community

  • KletzGermistonConsecration 1
A piece of ground was granted by the Germiston City Council for use as a Jewish cemetery in Primrose (consecrated on August 11, 1907)...
by BASIL KLETZ | Sep 21, 2016

It has been said that Litvak immigrants were optimistic, courageous, adaptable, industrious and generous. These qualities were certainly discernible in the founders of the Germiston Jewish community. Above all they were devoted to their religion and Jewishness while contributing much to the progress of the (East Rand) town.

From 1900-1902 High Holiday services were held in the Masonic Hall. In 1903, the year in which the Germiston municipality was proclaimed, the Germiston and Georgetown Hebrew Congregation was founded.

A piece of ground was granted by the Germiston City Council for use as a Jewish cemetery in Primrose (consecrated on August 11, 1907). Additional ground was given to the community in 1947, with the present ohel built on that ground a few months later.  

On July 19, 1960, two thirds of the ground allocated was taken by the council and passed on to other denominations.

By the mid-1960s, 600 families lived in Germiston but sadly the community dwindled and the shul doors finally closed in 2001.

A management committee was elected to ensure continuity of services at Primrose cemetery, that repair and maintenance be monitored and to eventually hand over everything to an organisation capable of caring for the assets and facility into perpetuity.

In the mid-1980s we were granted additional ground and again in 1996 which has been important for funeral and unveiling services when needed, at the cemetery.  

On August 31 this year this ground was consecrated - exactly 109 years after the original land was consecrated. Rabbis who made the trip to Primrose to participate in the ceremony were Dayan Zadok Suchard, Dayan David Baddiel, Rabbi Anton Klein, director of the Beth Din, the Edenvale spiritual head Rabbi Ze’ev Gruzd who grew up in Germiston and Rabbi Jonathan Fox representing the Johannesburg Chevrah Kadisha.

At the consecration ceremony, Rabbi Suchard praised those who were looking after the cemetery and community

Tehillim were then recited. First was Psalm 102, followed by a walk around the area to be consecrated. At the north-western corner, Psalm 103 was recited. Hakafot around the new ground was done seven times while reciting Psalm 91 and Psalm 104 each Hakava. Recitation of Isaiah (42:10-21) followed the circling.

Responsive prayers were then recited by Rabbi Klein and all present followed by a concluding pray, before Rabbi Suchard recited Kaddish.

It is ironic that the history of the community which began at the birth of Germiston, should also end as the city ceased to exist as an independent municipality,

 

 

Basil Kletz was president of the UHI (United Hebrew Institutions) of Germiston from 1983-1989 and 1992-2001 when the community closed. Since 2002 he has been chairman of the management committee looking after the facilities at Primrose cemetery.

 

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