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Port Elizabeth

PORT ELIZABETH, port city in Eastern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. Jewish families were among the founding British settlers of 1820. A congregation was formed in 1861 (or 1862) and the first synagogue building (a converted Lutheran church) was acquired in 1862. Port Elizabeth became an important center of the wool trade, in the development of which Jewish merchants, notably the *Mosenthal brothers, played a leading part. Hyman Henry Salomon was mayor in 1873–75 and Max Gumpert in 1900. Ministers of Port Elizabeth were: Samuel Rapoport 1873–94, Jacob Philips 1897–1912, and Abraham Levy 1912–54 (with a short break). In 1923 Adolph Schauder, merchant and industrialist, was elected to the city council and remained a member for more than 40 years. He served as mayor in 1940–42; a township for colored people was named after him in recognition of his work for nonwhites. He was also president of the Orthodox Hebrew Congregation for some years. Solly Rubin served as mayor in 1972–3. The United Hebrew Institutions include a ḥevra kaddisha and a benevolent society. There are two Orthodox synagogues, the Port Elizabeth Hebrew Congregation and the Summerstrand Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1947, and one Progressive Congregation (Temple Israel), founded in 1949. There is a Jewish day school (Theodor Herzl), although today over 80% of its pupils are non-Jewish. The headquarters of both the Eastern Cape Committee of the Jewish Board of Deputies andthe Eastern Province Zionist Council are in Port Elizabeth. In 1969 the Jewish population of Port Elizabeth numbered 2,811 (1.1% of the general population). This had declined to approximately 450 by 2004.

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