Beth Hatefutsoth’s monumental works in the final straight

  • Beth
The first Jewish families - part of the great 1820 Settler migration - arrived in South Africa 190 years ago to make their homes in the new land. Since then, tens of thousands of Jews have immigrated to this country, creating the active, thriving Jewish community that we have today.

The story of how the early settlers survived in this unknown and then still undeveloped land, often without any support or knowledge of the local language, is a fascinating and inspiring one. Travelling by horse and cart, they journeyed far into the interior of South Africa, in the process doing much to build up the towns and smaller “dorps” in which they settled. 

The impact that these Jews had on the growth of South Africa and its economy, far surpasses what their small numbers would suggest. How did they make a living and how did they go about establishing congregations and other Jewish communal bodies, thereby ensuring the continuation of their Jewish beliefs, culture and practices?

It is these stories that the SA Friends of Beth Hatefutsoth (SAFBH) is dedicated to uncovering and recording for posterity.

Through the meticulous research by its volunteers and professional staff, the Jewish presence in over 1 550 places, from the larger country towns down to the humblest railway siding, has been documented.

Based on this research, five volumes on different regions of the country have to date been published; the anticipated publication of two more volumes currently in progress, will bring this ground-breaking project to completion.

The SAFBH’s Country Communities project has created a remarkably rich and detailed resource on the Jewish community of South Africa, one that is used on a regular basis by historians, journalists and genealogical research from around the world.

If you are South African by birth, what do you know about your ancestors? Do you ever wonder how and why they came to this country?  

* To find out more, or to learn more about this project and how you can participate in it, check out the website or e-mail [email protected].



1 Comment

  1. 1 janet 22 Jul
    Great article


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