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KIMBERLEY, city in the Western Province of the Cape Province, South Africa, center of the South African diamond industry. Jews flocked to Kimberley on the discovery of diamonds there in 1870, and as early as 1871 a congregation, named the Griqualand West Hebrew Congregation, was formed, and the first synagogue was built in 1876. Among the early settlers were Barney *Barnato, his brother Harry, and his cousin David (later Sir David) *Harris. The first temporary minister was the Rev. Joel *Rabinowitz who returned to South Africa from England after his retirement. The first permanent minister was Meyer Mendelsohn. Until the founding of Johannesburg in 1886, Kimberley was home to the second largest Jewish community in South Africa, numbering over 2,000 souls at its peak. No fewer than five Jews have served as mayors of Kimberley: William Sagar (1906–08), Ernest (later Sir Ernest) Oppenheimer (1913–15), Bernard Cohen (1931–32), Gustave Haberfeld (1953–55, 1966–67), Lionel Jawno (1959–61), and C. Sussman (1964–65). Sir David Harris, who also commanded the Kimberley Town Guard during the famous Boer siege of the town in the Anglo-Boer War, was MP for Kimberley and Griqualand West from 1897–1929. The discovery of gold on the Rand drew many Jews from Kimberley to Johannesburg. By 1970, the Jewish population of Kimberley had dropped to about 600 and by 2005, fewer than 50 Jews remained.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.