South Africa is a republic comprising nine provinces – Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to 1994, when multiracial democracy was introduced, there were four provinces, viz. Cape, Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal.
The first European settlement in southern Africa was founded in *Cape Town, today capital of the Western Cape, in 1652 by the Dutch. It became a British colony in 1806; Natal was a British colony from 1843; the Free State and the Transvaal, founded by Dutch (Afrikaner or Boer) emigrants from the Cape, were republics until annexed by Britain in 1902 after the Boer War. In 1910 the colonies were merged as the Union of South Africa under the British flag. In 1961 the Union became a republic outside the British Commonwealth. Until 1994, South Africa was ruled by the white minority. Black majority rule was ushered in by the country's first democratic, non-racial elections, held on April 27 of that year.
Jewish associations with South Africa date back a long way. Jewish scientists and cartographers in Portugal contributed to the success of Vasco da Gama's voyage which led to the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1497. Jewish merchants in Holland were associated with the Dutch East India Company, which established the white settlement at the Cape in 1652, and Jewish names appear in the early records of the settlement. These were probably converts to Christianity who had come to Holland from Central and Eastern Europe. The company required all its servants and settlers to be professing Protestants. Identifiably Jewish settlement began only after the introduction of complete religious tolerance under the Batavian Republic in 1804 and its confirmation by the British who took over the Cape in 1806. Enterprising Jewish individuals then began to arrive, mainly from Germany and the British Isles. Some made their way from Cape Town (where the first congregation was founded in 1841) deep into the interior and played pioneering roles in the development of what was then a backward country with a thinly scattered white population. Prominent individuals were Nathaniel *Isaacs, Benjamin *Norden, Jonas *Bergtheil, the *Mosenthal brothers, the *Solomon family, and Joel *Rabinowitz.
By the end of the 1860s, when the Jews in the Cape numbered a few hundred families in a white population of something
The opening up of the diamond fields in Griqualand West (*Kimberley) in 1869 and of the gold mines of the Witwatersrand in 1886, marked a turning point in the economic and political history of South Africa. From being predominantly pastoral, it developed rapidly into a modern industrial society. The new economic opportunities attracted Jews among the emigrants from Britain, Germany, and elsewhere on the continent of Europe, as well as from America and Australia, and other countries. They were the forerunners of the mainstream of Jewish immigrants who began to arrive from Eastern Europe in the 1880s, a tributary of the vast outflow escaping czarist oppression and economic deprivation and seeking freedom and new opportunity, of whom the majority found their way to North America. Many of these immigrants settled in Cape Town and nearby towns, but later spread to more distant rural areas, and also found their way to the goldfields in the Witwatersrand. Few villages in the Cape, the Orange Free State, and later in the Transvaal, were without their Jewish peddlers or storekeepers, who were usually joined in time by their families and kinsmen from overseas. They formed small communities, and in some cases (as in the ostrich feather center *Oudtshoorn) larger Jewish settlements. The mainstream of Jewish migration, however, flowed to *Johannesburg and other towns on the Witwatersrand, which soon after the Boer War (1899–1902) – during which there was an exodus of war "refugees" – became the nucleus of the largest concentration of Jews in South Africa. There was also a smaller movement into Natal, particularly to *Durban.
The steady extension of Jewish settlement to the new areas was reflected in the dates when the first congregations were established: Kimberley – 1875; Oudtshoorn – 1883; Durban – 1883; Johannesburg – 1887; *Pretoria – 1890; *Bloemfontein – 1876.
Official statistics on immigration became available only after the Boer War (1899–1902), but it can be conjectured that the Jewish population in 1880 was about 4,000. Ten years later it had grown to about 10,000. Around 1900 it was in the vicinity of 25,000, and in the 1904 official census it had reached a total of some 38,000. These figures reflect clearly how the Jewish population was growing through the addition of newcomers from abroad. Between 1880 and 1910, some 40,000 Jewish immigrants entered the country. Thereafter, for various reasons, the numbers decreased, with the exception of the years 1924 to 1930. In all, in the half-century from 1910 to 1960, it is estimated that there were perhaps 30,000 Jewish immigrants.
Until about 1890, the majority of Jewish immigrants came from Britain, and in lesser numbers from Germany. Thereafter, the influx of "Russian" Jews (as the East European Jews were officially designated) increased and within a couple of decades the "greeners" outnumbered the older elements. They came predominantly (approximately 70%) from Lithuania and the other territories on the eastern shores of the Baltic (South African Jewry came to be described as "a colony of Lithuania") and also from Latvia, Poland, Belorussia, and further afield. In their escape from oppression and poverty in Eastern Europe the Jews who went to South Africa were encouraged by success stories of individuals, reports of the sympathetic attitude of the Boers (Afrikaners) to Jews as the "Chosen People," the helping hand stretched out by older settlers, and inflated stories of the fortunes made from the gold mines. Most of the East Europeans at first encountered great hardships and difficulties economically before achieving prosperity. South Africa's attitude to Jewish immigration was influenced by various factors, among them conservative official policies in regard to immigration generally, partly due to the internal struggle between the rival English-speaking and Afrikaner sections of the population. The changing political and economic situation in the country, and at times, the relatively high proportion of Jews among immigrants from alien (non-British) countries, also played their part.
Although, in an overall historical perspective, and by comparison with other countries, South Africa's attitude was not an unfavorable one, Jewish leaders frequently felt the need for vigilance against discrimination, and at certain periods Jewish immigration became a subject of intensive political agitation (see below, legal and social status). In 1902, Jewish immigrants faced a crisis because a new literacy test at the Cape (designed to exclude Asiatics) called for the ability to read and write "in the characters of a European language." There were moves to deny this status to Yiddish because it was written in Hebrew characters, but the language was officially accorded recognition in the Cape Immigration Law of 1906. This provision was also incorporated after Union in the basic Immigration Act of 1913. In the early 1920s Jewish communal leaders were engaged in a lengthy dispute with the government on the interpretation of the immigration laws, which had resulted in severe restrictions on economic grounds. These restrictions were removed in 1924, but the increased Jewish immigration which followed led in 1930 to the enactment of a law generally referred to as the "Quota Act." This did not restrict Jewish immigration per se but by imposing numerical limitation upon all immigration from specified countries of Eastern and southern Europe, it substantially reduced the admission of Jewish immigrants. Soon afterward the influx of Jewish refugees, from Nazi Germany – and especially the dramatic arrival in 1936 of a chartered boat, the Stuttgart, with 537 German Jewish refugees on board – resulted in a major agitation and precipitated the enactment of the "Aliens Act" of 1937. This law gave plenary powers to an Immigrants Selection Board, which was required, among other considerations, to apply the criterion of "assimilability." The number of Jewish refugees from Germany then dropped considerably, the total between 1933 and 1940 being approximately 5,500.
During World War II, Jewish immigration virtually ceased and in the immediate postwar period was largely limited to aged parents and children of persons already living in South Africa and to other specified categories. Following the virtual destruction, in the Holocaust, of the communities from which South Africa had drawn its Jewish immigrants, as well as the movement toward the State of Israel, the overall figure of Jewish immigration to South Africa dropped to a few hundred annually.
The growth of the South African Jewish population through both immigration and natural increase is shown in the Table; figures are based on official census returns:
Until 1936, when the proportion of Jews in the population reached its peak of 4.52%, the annual Jewish increase was proportionately higher than that of the white population generally. In the succeeding 25 years (1936–1960), however, it was only 1.77% compared with 2.26% for the white population as a whole, and in the decade 1950 to 1960, it was only one-half of the general figure. The relative decline of the Jewish percentage was due to the restrictive immigration laws; the lower birth rate of Jews compared with that of the general white population; a certain amount of emigration; and the higher number of Jews in the older age groups.
In the early years, the high masculinity in sex distribution was similar to that of all typical immigrant communities, but later it dropped sharply. In 1904, there were 25,864 males and 12,237 females, while by 1960, males numbered 57,198 and females 57,563. The proportion of foreign-born to local-born Jews had also radically changed. Whereas in 1936, 46.69% were South African-born (for females the figure was 50%), the large majority are now South African-born.
In 1970, according to the official census of that year, the Jewish population reached an all-time high of 118,200. This figure remained static during the next decade, with losses to emigration being partially offset by immigration from Rhodesia (today *Zimbabwe), other African countries, and Israel. The Jewish population declined precipitously during the 1980s as a result of social, economic, and political unrest. The adjusted 1991 census, when adjusted upwards based on the national percentage of those who omitted the "religion" question on the census form, gave the Jewish population as 91,925, comprising 1.8% of the white population and 0.3% of the total population.
According to the 2001 census, this figure had declined still further. A total of 61,670 whites gave their religion as Jewish, suggesting a total of between 72,000 and 75,000 when the proportion of those who omitted the religion question was taken into account. These were overwhelmingly concentrated in the three provinces of Gauteng (47,700, more than 90% of whom lived in Johannesburg), Western Cape (18,360, mainly in Cape Town), KwaZulu-Natal (3,470, mainly in Durban) and Eastern Cape (1,390, mainly Port Elizabeth and East London), while the combined total of the remaining five provinces was estimated at about 1,500. Once a substantial proportion of the total, the number of Jews still living in rural districts had declined to a few hundred, mainly elderly people. Despite the steep decline in the Jewish population, there were signs early in the new century that Jewish emigration was leveling off and that a modest influx of new immigrants, as well as some returning emigrants, was beginning to swell its ranks once more.
Legal and Social Status
As an integral part of the white population, Jews have full equality and participate in all aspects of South Africa's national, political, civic, economic, and cultural life. During the white minority rule years, although the usual forms of anti-Jewish prejudice in gentile societies were occasionally encountered, both of the main white population groups – the English-speaking and the Afrikaans-speaking – remained faithful, generally speaking, to the traditions of religious tolerance which characterized the homelands – England and the Netherlands – from which their forefathers came. In the post-1994 era, there has been little evidence of anti-Jewish sentiment in the majority black population, with antisemitism being primarily confined to elements within the Muslim community.
There have nevertheless been periods in South Africa's history when Jews faced special problems which arose, in particular, from the complex racial and political tensions of the country. There were exceptional periods when the status of Jews was challenged. While the Cape was under the control of the Dutch East India Company prior to 1795 (see above), and all in the Company's service had to profess the Christian Reformed religion, there could be no professing Jews in the country until a liberal religious policy was introduced. Thereafter, however, whether in the British or the Afrikaner territories,
The situation in the Afrikaner Transvaal Republic, however, differed from that in the Orange Free State, where full equality was enjoyed by the Jews. The Grondwet (constitution) of the Transvaal Republic (1864; reaffirmed in 1896) stipulated that membership in the Volksraad (parliament) and also the holding of official positions in the state service, were to be restricted to Christian Protestants. Catholics, and also Jews, were consequently debarred from military posts and from the offices of the presidency, state secretary, and Landdrost, nor could they become members of the first or second Volksraad or superintendents of the natives or of mines. These disabilities applied even to individuals who had become burghers of the republic. There were also educational disabilities: as education had to be based on a strictly Christian Protestant religious foundation, Catholic and Jewish children were debarred from attending government schools and their parochial schools were denied state aid. These disabilities did not arise from expressly anti-Jewish motives, but flowed from the rather harsh Calvinist constitution of the republic. In the last years of the republic, Jewish deputations to the government sought to have them removed, but without success. Eventually in 1899, President Kruger tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Volksraad to replace the requirement of the Grondwet that all members of the Raad must be Protestant by a provision that they must "believe in the revelation of God through His Word in the Bible." The Jews in the Transvaal reacted variously to these disabilities which were also somewhat obscured by the fact that the Jews were in most cases foreigners (uitlanders) with their own far-reaching grievances. Such limitations also did not weigh much upon the relatively recent arrivals from Eastern Europe, who appreciated their situation in the Boer republic, so markedly in contrast to the oppressive conditions of czarist Russia. All the disabilities disappeared when the Transvaal republic came under British rule in 1902. Thereafter, whether under the colonial regimes in the Transvaal and in the rest of the country prior to Union in 1910 or subsequently, Jewish citizens living in South Africa enjoyed legal equality in all respects.
However, further immigration of Jews, more particularly from Eastern Europe, did periodically become a public issue. In the 1930s the influx of refugees from Nazi Germany led to active agitation for the complete prohibition of Jewish immigration. In the result, while no specific anti-Jewish provisions were written into the immigration laws, restrictions were introduced which were expressly designed to cut down the flow of Jewish immigrants. The supporters of these restrictive policies were not confined to one political party only, and many disclaimed an anti-Jewish prejudice, asserting that the measures were necessary to prevent the growth of antisemitism by maintaining the existing balance between the various elements of the white population. (South Africa never favored an open-door immigration policy, the Afrikaans-speaking section, in particular, often contending that the aliens were a threat to the economic and political status of the established population).
South Africa became the scene of open antisemitic agitation among certain sections of the population – not shared by the majority of the citizens – from the time of the accession of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 until the end of World War II. Organized antisemitic movements arose, among them the "shirt" movements like the Greyshirts, Blackshirts, and South African Fascists, and semi-political bodies like the Ossewa Brandwag and the New Order, with fully-fledged National Socialist programs. These developments eventually had their impact upon the official opposition party, the National Party, which in 1937 included a plank on the "Jewish question" in its official program. Its demands included the total prohibition of further Jewish immigration, stronger control over naturalization, and the introduction of a "quota" system for Jews in various branches of economic life. In Transvaal province, too (but not in the other provinces), Jews were banned from membership in the National Party. When the United Party government, headed by Jan Christiaan *Smuts, declared war against Germany in 1939, the National Party formally proclaimed its neutrality.
The anti-Jewish agitation grew more subdued as World War II moved to its climax and sharp ideological differences emerged within the National Party. The moderate elements finally gained the upper hand, and in his political manifesto prior to the general election in May 1948, the Nationalist Party leader, Daniel François Malan, later prime minister, announced a new policy. Denying that the party's attitude on immigration was motivated by anti-Jewish feelings, he affirmed positively that his party did not support discriminatory measures between Jew and non-Jew who were already resident in the country. Consistently with that declaration, when the National Party won the election and became the government, Malan announced his goal to be the removal of the "Jewish question" from the life and politics of South Africa. The reestablishment of confidence was not effected without difficulty. Jews generally tended to hold aloof from the National Party. However it fulfilled its pledge not to countenance antisemitism in public life. Successive National Party prime ministers reaffirmed government policy to be one of equality and non-discrimination between all sections of the white population.
Apart from the 1930s and early 1940s, antisemitism has never manifested as a serious problem in South Africa and Jews continue to participate fully in all aspects of national life on the basis of equality. Levels of recorded antisemitic incidents have been dramatically lower than those of other major Diaspora communities, consistently averaging around 30 annually. During the apartheid years, most antisemitic activity emanated from the white extreme right. During the 1980s and 1990s, the community became increasingly perturbed by the growing prevalence of organized neo-Nazi movements and other antisemitic organizations. Among these were the Afrikaanse Weerstands Beweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), Boerenasie, and the Blanke Bevrydingsbeweging
In recent years, most antisemitism has emanated from radical elements within South Africa's large Muslim minority, numbering around 800,000 in 2001 (about 2% of the population). The post-1994 ethos in the country, however, is strongly anti-racist, with numerous laws – including a comprehensive Bill of Rights in the Constitution – proscribing any form of abuse, discrimination, or hate speech based on race, color, creed, or ethnicity.
Communal Organization and Structure
The earliest pattern of communal organization was established by Jews of German, English, and Dutch extraction. Their congregations provided elementary facilities for worship, classes for Hebrew and religious instruction of the young, and philanthropic aid, and also attended to the rites for the dead. The authority of the chief rabbi of England was accepted in ecclesiastical matters. Joel Rabinowitz (officiated 1859–82), Abraham Frederick *Ornstein, and Alfred P. *Bender (1895–1937), all of whom administered to the Cape Town Congregation, and Samuel I. Rapaport (1872–95), the minister in Port Elizabeth, all emigrated from England.
By the end of the 19th century or soon after, the "greener" East Europeans had broken away from the "English" synagogues in most communities to form their own congregations. Their parochial loyalties were reflected in the many separate associations for religious worship and talmudic study and the numerous *Landsmannschaften (fraternal associations) of persons who had come from the same town or village in Lithuania or Poland. Leading rabbinical personalities in this formative period were: in Johannesburg, Judah Loeb *Landau (officiated 1903–42), from Galicia; the more "Westernized" Joseph Herman *Hertz (1898–1911) who arrived via the United States (he later became chief rabbi of the British Empire); Moshal Friedman (beginning in 1891), from Lithuania; Chief Rabbis L.I. *Rabinowitz (1945–61); B.M. Caspar (1963–1988) and C.K. Harris (1988–2004) and in the Cape, M.Ch. Mirvish (d. 1947), also from Lithuania and I. *Abrahams (1937–68). In lay matters, Jews of English and German origin usually took the lead, but East Europeans also began to assert their influence.
The communal structure gradually underwent change in response to the new social forces – the slowing down of immigration, increasing acculturation and growing homogeneity. Splinter congregations rejoined the older synagogues or new amalgamations took place. By the 1940s most of the Landsmannschaften had disappeared or continued to survive on nostalgic memories. Emerging social and cultural needs called forth a variety of new institutions, such as the lodges of the Hebrew Order of David, the Zionist and Young Israel Societies, the branches of the Union of Jewish Women, the *B'nai B'rith Lodges, the Ex-Servicemen's organizations, the *Reform movement in religious life, Jewish social and sports clubs and, since the early 1990s, communal security organizations. Important work in social outreach and upliftment in the non-Jewish community is carried out by such organizations as MaAfrika Tikkun, the Union of Jewish Women, the United Sisterhood and ORT-South Africa, amongst others. Increased communal cohesion began to be reflected in the organizational structure of education, congregational affairs and philanthropy, and overall communal representation. However, older forms of organization, inherited or adapted from the East European tradition, yielded slowly to change. The most striking exceptions were in the Hebrew educational sphere and in the proliferation of Jewish sports clubs.
The main concentration of Jewish communities is now in two areas: the Johannesburg-Pretoria complex in the north, and the Cape Peninsula in the south, where 66% and 25% respectively of the Jewish population now live. Because of the geographic distance and differences of outlook, the regional bodies in the south until fairly recently maintained virtually autonomous religious and educational organizations parallel to the national bodies up north. However, since the mid-1980s the trend has been toward greater coordination and unity, as shown, inter alia, by the establishment of a national Union of Orthodox Synagogues and Bet Din in 1987. All the major national Jewish bodies have their headquarters in Johannesburg, which has now become the focal point of Jewish life.
The great majority of Hebrew congregations in South Africa, about 85% of the total, are Orthodox, with most of the remainder being Reform (Progressive). The Conservative movement as known in America virtually does not exist in South Africa, apart from the small Shalom Masorti Independent Congregation in Johannesburg, formed after one of the Reform congregations broke away from the Progressive movement in 1992.
In 1966, there were 29 Orthodox congregations and four Reform temples in Johannesburg and 12 Orthodox congregations and two Reform temples in Cape Town. In 2004, the number of Orthodox congregations in Johannesburg had grown to 51 while the Reform temples had declined to three. In Cape Town, the number of Orthodox congregations had increased to 18 and Reform Temples to three. There is at least one Orthodox and one Reform congregation each in Durban, Port Elizabeth, and East London. Outside of the main urban centers, virtually all of the smaller country synagogues had closed, with those remaining functioning only with great difficulty.
The Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa (UOS) is the umbrella body for Orthodox congregations throughout South Africa and has affiliated to it most Orthodox congregations countrywide. It consists of just under 100 synagogues (including many shtiebels) and claims a membership enrollment of approximately 20,000 families. The UOS appoints and maintains the office of the chief rabbi and the Bet Din (ecclesiastical court). At the end of 2004, Scottish-born Rabbi Cyril Harris, who had served as a rabbi in London
There is a single national Bet Din, based in Johannesburg with an office in Cape Town. This deals with conversions to the Jewish faith, the issuance of divorces, supervision of kashrut, and similar matters. Although the UOS established and maintains the Bet Din, and also appoints the dayyanim, the Bet Din is an independent body, exercising supreme plenary authority in Orthodox religious matters. The UOS publishes a quarterly magazine, Jewish Tradition. There is an Orthodox Rabbinical Association of South Africa, its members being drawn from the clergy of all parts of the country.
The period after 1970 saw young people becoming progressively more involved in religious life, in part because of more religion-focused Jewish day schools such as Yeshiva College and also because of the advent of dynamic outreach movements such as the Kollel Yad Shaul, Chabad (Lubavitch), Ohr Somayach, and Aish HaTorah. Johannesburg in particular is today widely regarded as a model ba'al teshuvah (return to Orthodoxy) community, while Cape Town and Pretoria were also experiencing an upsurge in religiosity by the turn of the century. The impressive growth of the ba'al teshuvah movement was shown by the proliferation of shtiebls (small synagogues, characterized by a high level of observance amongst its members) in Johannesburg, which numbered over 30 in 2004.
The Progressive movement was started in South Africa in 1933 by Rabbi Moses Cyrus Weiler (1907–2000) and was later led by Rabbi Arthur Saul Super (1908–1979) in the teeth of strong Orthodox opposition. The Reform movement became established in all the larger communities, at its height claiming support from about 20% of the whole Jewish population. This had declined to between 10 and 15% by the end of the century. In South Africa Reform has been relatively conservative in its religious approach, avoiding some of the radical manifestations of the American movement, and it has always been strongly pro-Zionist. In contrast to the Orthodox synagogues, which confined their activities largely within the Jewish community, Reform congregations broke new ground by adopting programs for Christian-Jewish goodwill and by fostering social welfare projects among non-whites, particularly for children. Several Orthodox congregations, notably the prestigious Oxford shul in Johannesburg, subsequently also became involved in social outreach and upliftment projects in the general community.
The Progressive congregations are associated together in the South African Union for Progressive Judaism, religious issues being handled by a central ecclesiastical board. The latter consists of rabbis and a few laymen, with a rabbi elected annually as its chairman. The ladies guilds in Orthodox synagogues are affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues' Ladies Guilds, and the Reform sisterhoods to the National Union of Temple Sisterhoods.
Both Orthodox and Reform congregations for many years had difficulties in finding rabbis and ministers. The sources in Europe which provided them with trained and experienced ministers no longer existed. By the closing years of the 20th century, however, an increasing number of the community's Orthodox rabbis were emerging from locally established rabbinical training institutions, most notably the Yeshiva Gedolah. Many products of the religious day schools, moreover, were returning to South Africa after gaining semikhah overseas, and serving the community both from the pulpit and as teachers within the burgeoning Jewish day school system.
SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH BOARD OF DEPUTIES
A single representative organization, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, is recognized by Jews and non-Jews alike as the authorized spokesman for the community. It is charged with safeguarding the equal rights and status of Jews as citizens and generally protecting Jewish interests. A Board for the Transvaal was formed in 1903, on the initiative of Max *Langerman and Rabbi Joseph Hertz, with the encouragement of the High Commissioner, Lord *Milner, and was named after its prototype in England. At first it encountered opposition from the Zionists. Among its early leaders were Bernard *Alexander, Manfred *Nathan, and Siegfried Raphaely. An independent Board for the Cape was formed in 1904 through the efforts of Morris *Alexander and David Goldblatt, despite opposition from the Rev. Alfred P. Bender and his congregation.
Following the unification of the four provinces in 1910, the two bodies were unified in the South African Board of Deputies (1912). Its main concern was to prevent discrimination against Jews in respect of immigration and naturalization and to rebut defamatory attacks on Jews. It led the community's efforts in rendering relief to Jews in Europe after World War I, and later was active also on behalf of German Jewry and the displaced persons of World War II through the instrumentality of the South African Jewish Appeal (1942). A relatively small and weak body, the Board underwent reorganization in the early 1930s to meet the challenge of Nazism and antisemitism. While Johannesburg remained the headquarters, provincial committees were set up in Cape Town – the seat of Parliament – Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein. The position of chairman of the executive council was held by Cecil Lyons (1935–40); Gerald N. Lazarus (1940–45); Simon M. Kuper (1945–49); Israel A. *Maisels (1949–51); Edel J. Horwitz (1951–55); Namie Philips (1955–60); Teddy Schneider (1960–65); Maurice Porter (1965–70); David Mann (1970–74), Julius Rosettenstein (1974–78), Israel Abramowitz (1979–83), Michael Katz (1983–87), Gerald Leissner (1987–91), Mervyn Smith (1991–95), Marlene Bethlehem (1995–99), Russell Gaddin (1999–2003), and Michael Bagraim (from 2003). Its secretary and later general secretary for many years was Gustav Saron. Aleck Goldberg held this position for most of the 1980s while Seymour Kopelowitz did so for most of the next decade. As new needs
Institutions to assist the poor and needy early became an established feature of communal organization. In the wake more particularly of the East European immigration, there was a proliferation of many kinds of philanthropic institutions or fraternal bodies having philanthropic objects, such as Landsmannschaften, free-loan societies, societies to visit the sick, and especially for the provision of financial and material help to those in need. Many of these institutions bore the hallmark and followed the methods of East European traditions of ẓedakah. Today, for instance, the largest welfare body in Johannesburg, the Chevra Kaddisha combines extensive philanthropic work with the activities of a burial society. The organizational structure and also the underlying principles of Jewish social welfare subsequently underwent changes under the impact of changing social conditions. In recent years, the Chevra Kaddisha has incorporated a number of other important welfare institutions under its umbrella, amongst them the two Jewish aged homes Sandringham Gardens and Our Parents Home, Jewish Community Services, the Jewish Women's Benevolent Society, and the Arcadia Jewish Orphanage. Other important welfare institutions include the free-loan societies, the Witwatersrand Hebrew Benevolent Association (founded 1893) and the more recent Rambam Trust, the Selwyn Segal Home for Jewish Handicapped (1959), Yad Aharon, Hatzollah (medical rescue), Kadimah Occupational Centre, B'nai B'rith, and Nechama (bereavement counseling).
Leading bodies in the Cape include the Astra Centre (incorporating Jewish Sheltered Employment), B'nai B'rith, Cape Jewish Welfare Council, Glendale Home for the Intellectually Disabled, Hebrew Helping Hand Association, Highlands House (Jewish Aged Home), and Jewish Community Services (incorporating Jewish Board of Guardians, founded 1859, and the Jewish Sick Relief Society). The Jewish community has assumed financial responsibility for all its welfare needs, the large budgets being met by fees, membership dues, contributions, and bequests. Some advantage has been taken of government grants for specific welfare projects.
In the first decades of the 20th century many of the communal organizations provided some form of philanthropic and fraternal services to assist the integration of the immigrant generation. As late as 1929, of the 68 Jewish institutions in Johannesburg then affiliated to the Board of Deputies, 38 were either wholly or partly philanthropic. An indigenous South African institution of this type, the Hebrew Order of David, founded successive lodges after 1904 and, as members began to be recruited among the South African-born generation, added social, cultural, and communal objectives. The Grand Lodge has its headquarters in Johannesburg.
UNION OF JEWISH WOMEN
In the women's sphere the Union of Jewish Women of South Africa plays a major role. The first branch was formed in Johannesburg in 1931 and a national body in 1936. In 1969 the Union had 64 branches throughout the republic with a total membership of between 9,000 and 10,000 women, its national headquarters being in Johannesburg. The subsequent concentration of most Jews in the main urban centers, with the resultant closure of most rural and small town branches, saw the number of branches shrinking to 10 by 2004, with a total membership of about 7,500 women. The Union maintains a wide range of activities and acts as a coordinating body for Jewish women's organizations. A distinctive aspect of its program is its nondenominational work, educational and philanthropic, serving all sections of the population. Some branches run creches and feeding depots for indigent colored and African children and adults. Branches of the Union have established Hebrew nursery schools, friendship clubs, services for the aged, youth projects, and a wide program of adult education. In recent years, the UJW has become extensively involved in HIV/AIDS relief work.
There are a plethora of Jewish day schools in Johannesburg and Cape Town, all of which provide a complete secular education, with Jewish studies integrated into the general curriculum, up to matriculation standard. The mainstream schools in Johannesburg are the three King David schools, located in Linksfield, Victory Park, and Sandton. The first two provide Jewish education from pre-school to matriculation level while the third goes up to primary school level. King David's counterparts in Cape Town are the Herzlia schools, while there is also a small Jewish day school in Port Elizabeth, Theodor Herzl.
The ideological basis of the King David, Herzlia, and Theodor Herzl schools is officially described as "broadly national
The Progressive movement also maintains a network of supplementary Hebrew and religious classes at its temples. These schools are affiliated with the Union for Progressive Jewish Education.
Overall supervision of the King David schools is undertaken by the South African Board of Jewish Education (SABJE), established in 1928, which operates from headquarters in Johannesburg. Affiliates include Yeshiva College and Torah Academy in Johannesburg, Theodor Herzl in Port Elizabeth, and the Herzlia schools in Cape Town. The SABJE has direct responsibility, both financial and administrative, for the Jewish day schools in Johannesburg. It also involves itself with Jewish children who attend state schools and whose main access to Jewish education is through the Cheder program and by means of religious instruction booklets sent into the schools. It administers a network of Hebrew nursery schools according to the standards laid down by the Nursery School Association of South Africa. The Cape Council of the South African Jewish Board of Education has its own religious instruction program for Jewish pupils who attend the state schools in the Western Cape Province.
In 2003, over 80% of school-going Jewish children in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth (whose Theodor Herzl School by then had a mainly non-Jewish enrollment) were attending one of the Jewish day schools. Those still in government schools had their Jewish educational requirements catered to by the United Hebrew Schools (under the SABJE) in Johannesburg and the Religious Instruction Department of the SAJBE in Cape Town. Jewish pupils in Pretoria and Durban received Jewish education through a special department at the Crawford College branches. This arrangement came about following the take-over of the Carmel College Jewish day schools in those cities by Crawford during the 1990s. The total pupil enrollment in the day schools in 2004 was about 8,000, substantially more than the 1969 figure of 6,000 even though the overall Jewish community had by then declined by more than a third. Government policy precludes financial support to new private schools, of whatever denomination, and financing of Jewish education remains a problem.
At the tertiary level, university students are able to take Jewish studies through the Semitics Department of the University of South Africa (UNISA); the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies of Natal University; and the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies (including the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research) at the University of Cape Town.
Programs of adult education continue to be provided by the SABJE, the South African Zionist Federation and the various affiliates, including most particularly the Union of Jewish Women, the Women's Zionist Council and the South African Zionist Youth Council. Other bodies, which have significantly contributed to the general cultural life of South African Jewry, include the Histadrut Ivrit, Yiddish Cultural Federation and the South African National Yad Vashem Foundation. Courses of Jewish study are offered at the University of Natal in Durban, and the University of South Africa.
INFLUENCE OF IMMIGRATION STREAMS
Following the congregational beginnings in Cape Town in 1841, loss of identity through assimilation was gradually arrested, although the immigrants became quickly integrated into the general economic and cultural life. In secular matters, as also in religious, they maintained ties with Anglo-Jewry, and this tradition was followed also by the immigrants from Germany. The latter, socially influential, often assumed the leadership, but do not appear to have made a specifically German-Jewish cultural contribution.
The growing numbers of East Europeans led in time to social, religious, and cultural ferment. Social distance, and even open friction and conflict, developed between the "greeners" and the older sections, due to differences in ritual tradition, in intensity of religious observance, or in attitudes to Jewish education and Zionism. Nonetheless, many aspects of the Anglo-Jewish pattern persisted, although it underwent changes in spirit and content.
Elements of the legacy of Lithuanian Jewry may be identified in certain characteristics of South African Jewry: generous support for all philanthropic endeavors, respect for Jewish scholarship and learning, exemplified in the status accorded to the rabbinate and concern for Jewish education; and a conservative outlook toward religious observance (at least in externals). However, as the community became largely South African-born and homogeneous, the barriers that formerly separated the various immigrant groups all but disappeared. The Yiddish language, the only vernacular used by the East European immigrants, became confined to a small minority. (In the 1936 census, 17,861 persons declared Yiddish as their
FORCES STRENGTHENING GROUP IDENTITY
The normal trends of acculturation and integration – linguistic, cultural, and economic – were accelerated by the rapid rise in the material condition of many Jews. South African Jewry has thus far escaped large-scale manifestations of assimilation and maintains a vigorous group life. A major community survey jointly conducted in 1998 by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (U.K.) and Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research (Cape Town) showed remarkably high levels of Jewish identification, both in the religious and Zionist sphere, and an intermarriage rate of less than 10%. Various factors have contributed to this. During the apartheid years, the country's cultural and political climate, which emphasizes the distinctiveness of the various linguistic, cultural, and ethnic groups of the population, and especially the coexistence of the English and Afrikaans language and culture, was favorable to the preservation of a separate Jewish group life. There was no pressure upon the Jew to drop his identity or to become an "unhyphenated" South African. This has continued into the post-1994 era, where the right of ethnic and religious communities to express their identity within the greater multicultural society is constitutionally protected, and indeed encouraged. The advent of democracy has therefore scarcely impinged, if at all, on Jewish identity, which has in fact been considerably strengthened by the strong upsurge in religiosity, particularly in Johannesburg.
THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT
The greatest influence, however – itself part of the Lithuanian heritage – has been exerted by the Zionist movement in the evolution of South African Jewry. Lithuanian Jewry's support of *Ḥibbat Zion was continued by the emigrants to South Africa. There was at first lukewarmness, and even active opposition, from some of the older anglicized groups, some right-wing Orthodox ministers, and also a small group of *Bund members and socialists. In time, however, the Zionist outlook achieved an unchallenged position.
Even before the first Basle Congress in 1897, there were a few Ḥovevei Zion societies in the country. An association of Zionist societies in the Transvaal, formed in 1898, convened a countrywide conference which led to the creation of the South African Zionist Federation, the first all-national Jewish body. The first all-South African Zionist conference was held in 1905. Although the fortunes of the Zionist movement fluctuated in the post-Herzl era, its strength was revealed during World War I, when the first South African Jewish Congress was held in Johannesburg, in April 1916, convened jointly by the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies in order to mobilize public opinion for the Jewish claim to Palestine. Zionist activity expanded greatly in the post-*Balfour Declaration period, owing much to its effective leaders, among them, Samuel Goldreich, Jacob *Gitlin, Idel Schwartz, A.M. Abrahams, Rabbi J.H. Hertz, Rabbi J.L. Landau, Benzion Hersch, Isaac Goldberg, Joseph Janower, Lazar Braudo, Katie Gluckman, Nicolai Kirschner, Bernard Gerling, Simon M. *Kuper, Joseph *Herbstein, Leopold *Greenberg, Edel J. Horwitz, and Israel A. Maisels. Its most influential officials included Jack Alexander, Zvi Infeld, and Sidney Berg. The Zionist Movement acted as a counterforce to weakening religious observance, and also unified the widely scattered communities. During the 1960s and 1970s, contributions per capita to Zionist funds were believed to have been higher in South Africa than elsewhere, even though the country's laws did not allow tax reductions for such donations. These contributions have been significantly reduced in the modern era, partly due to the decline of the South African currency relative to other currencies and because of government restrictions.
The South African Zionist Federation has been held up as a model of an all-embracing territorial Zionist organization. It takes the lead in, and coordinates, a many-faceted program. Its activities range from fundraising, the promotion of aliyah, tourism, and other forms of assistance to Israel, to youth work, adult education, and the fostering of Jewish culture generally. With its national headquarters situated in Johannesburg, it has officials in the main provincial centers and also an office in Tel Aviv, which carries out many varied functions in Israel itself. The strength of the Zionist movement lies particularly in its women's and youth sections. Organizations affiliated to the Zionist Federation include the Women's Zionist Organization of South Africa, whose fundraising projects are directed mainly toward the needs in Israel of women and children and land reclamation. The South African Maccabi Association, which promotes sport with Israel and is responsible for South Africa's participation in the *Maccabi Games. In 2004, there were four Zionist youth movements nationally, the largest being Bnei Akiva, followed by Habonim-Dror, Betar, and Netzer (representing the Reform movement). These conduct cultural programs, organize youth activities, and run summer camps. University youth have their representative organization – the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) affiliated to both the SAJBD and SAZF. In addition, many Zionist Societies and numerous synagogues are affiliated to the Federation. Fundraising is conducted through various channels, mainly through the Israel United Appeal campaign. Additional funds are raised for the Jewish National Fund, the Magen David Adom, South African Friends of various Israeli universities and educational institutions including the Hebrew, Bar-Ilan, Ben-Gurion and Haifa universities and the Technion, amongst other causes. The executive council of the Zionist Federation, elected by a biennial conference, includes representatives of the Women Zionists, Youth, Maccabi, and Medical Councils, and of other bodies within the Zionist movement.
South African Zionism has been noteworthy for its practical character, and the many projects which it has sponsored in Israel, among them the South African Palestine Enterprise (Binyan Corporation Ltd.) 1922, which granted mortgage loans at low interest rates; the African Palestine Investments,
Comparatively large numbers of South African Jews settled in Israel. By 1948 they numbered about 200, and by the beginning of 2004 the figure was estimated at around 18,000. Former South Africans who achieved high distinction in the state are Abba Eban, Michael Comay, Louis (Aryeh) Pincus, Arthur Lourie, and Jack Geri (who for a time was minister of commerce). In periods of crisis many volunteers from South Africa spontaneously left for Israel. In the 1948 War of Liberation, men and women who had served in the South African forces during World War II went to the defense of the Jewish state. A few thousand volunteered, but only 800 were sent and of these, approximately one-quarter remained permanently in the country. A stream of volunteers again left for Israel in the 1956 Sinai crisis, at the time of the Six-Day War in June 1967, and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. An increasing number of students continued their studies at various seats of higher learning in Israel. The Jewish day schools send large groups of pupils to Israel for extended courses, and great numbers of tourists visit Israel regularly. Increasing contacts between South African Jewry and Israel have enriched the content of Jewish life and strengthened Jewish consciousness in South Africa.
Political Attitudes and Involvement
Apart from a few exceptional situations, opportunities to participate in all aspects of civic and political life have been open to Jews at all levels – national, provincial and local. An impressive number of Jews regularly participated in local government as elected councilors, both in the large cities and in the rural villages (until the exodus to the cities). Many were elected to the position of mayor (including 22 in Johannesburg and 13 in Cape Town). The provincial councils and Parliament also have always included Jewish representatives, with these after 1948 largely belonging to opposition parties. Four Jews, Henry *Gluckman, Louis Shill, Joe *Slovo, and Ronnie Kasrils have to date attained cabinet rank, while Gill Marcus, as well as Kasrils, have served terms as deputy ministers. In 1999, Tony Leon became the country's first Jewish Leader of the Opposition when his party, the Democratic Alliance, became the second largest party in Parliament following the general election of that year.
Throughout the 20th century, relations between the white and non-white sections of the population formed the warp and woof of party politics in South Africa, and there was likewise no collective Jewish attitude in regard to these. Because of the great diversity of opinions among individuals, and the complexity of the racial and political tensions within the country, the Jewish community found it impossible to advocate any specific group policy. The majority espoused moderate policies. Some Jews were among the foremost protagonists of the non-white sections of the population. One of the best-known was Helen *Suzman, the sole representative of the Progressive Party in the South African Parliament from 1961 to 1974. Within the ranks of the anti-apartheid liberation movements, Jews were likewise disproportionately involved, whether as academics, trade unionists, political organizers, or within the armed wings of the liberation groups. Many of these were jailed, including Denis Goldberg, who was convicted alongside Nelson Mandela and other leading black opposition figures at the famous Rivonia Trial in 1964. Many more were compelled to go into exile, where they continued to be active in anti-apartheid activities in places like London and Lusaka in Zambia. Some returned after the unbanning of the various liberation movements in 1990 and several of these, amongst them Joe Slovo, Ronnie Kasrils, Ben Turok, and Gill Marcus, played an important role in the subsequent process of transition to multiracial democracy.
During the apartheid years of white minority rule, the activities of individual Jews or of the Jewish community as such led to occasional controversy, often revealing the impact of the political, ideological, and racial tensions in South Africa upon attitudes toward Jews. The fact that so high a proportion of Jews were engaged in anti-apartheid activities, often as members of the banned Communist Party, led to the loyalties of the Jewish community as a whole being called into question. The mainstream Jewish leadership, represented by the SAJBD, found it necessary from time to time to emphasize that there was no collective Jewish viewpoint in regard to the racial policies advocated by the respective political parties, and that Jewish citizens act in such matters not as members of a group, but as individuals. As opposition to apartheid intensified, both locally and internationally, the mainstream communal leadership became increasingly torn between its traditional mission of safeguarding the Jewish community and the need to condemn the injustices of the apartheid policy in accordance with Jewish moral values and historical experience.
By the mid-1980s, the SAJBD was speaking out more forthrightly against the apartheid policy. At its national conference of 1985, and again in 1987, the Board explicitly rejected apartheid. It also released statements condemning evictions of black leaders and pass-law arrests, detention without trial, a university quota system for blacks, and the treatment of black squatters near Cape Town. The ruling National Party's move away from pure apartheid attracted some Jewish support although the majority of Jews continued to support the
The majority of Jews tended to vote for opposition parties during the 1948–94 period, and in the elections of 1999 and 2004 overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Alliance. Nevertheless the Jewish community collectively – as distinct from individual Jewish citizens – has played no part in politics (except in exceptional situations, such as during the 1930s, where Jews felt that their status as full and equal citizens was being threatened).
Economic Life and Social Structure
That Jews have played a significant role in the economic development of the country is generally acknowledged. They were able to make a distinctive contribution because of the specific economic situation prevailing in the country at various periods, which required and gave scope for their particular talents and enterprise.
In the early part of the 19th century, before the discovery of the diamond fields, the economy was largely pastoral and agricultural. Economic prospects of the Cape were revived, however, by the increased trade and shipping around the southern route between Europe and the East. Furthermore, the aftermath of the English industrial revolution had encouraged some emigration to South Africa; and included the group known as the 1820 Settlers from Britain, which settled along the eastern frontier of the Cape (see *Norden family). During the 1830s, the interior was further opened up by the Boer voortrekkers. The relatively small number of Jewish immigrants from England and Germany brought with them an aptitude for and experience in trade and finance, and filled a special niche in the economically undeveloped society. They were merchants and small traders, with a sprinkling of professional men and craftsmen. Through their knowledge of foreign markets they helped to develop the export of such products as wool, hides, skins, and wine. They also contributed to the improvement of the Cape wool and mohair industries, the foundation of South Africa's future development as one of the world's producers. The Mosenthals from Germany, in particular, left a permanent mark on the economy through their initiative and diversity of interests. From bases in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth they set up a chain of trading stations in the interior of the Cape, usually manned by Jewish immigrants whom they had brought out from Germany. They helped to stabilize the rural economy by providing long-term credits to storekeepers and, through them, to farmers, particularly in bad seasons. Before the advent of commercial banking, the firm's banknotes were widely accepted in the development of banking, the financing of diamond and gold mining, and the establishment of secondary industries in the Cape and Transvaal. The *De Pass brothers, who came from Britain in the 1840s, developed shipping, fishing, and coastal trading enterprises in the southwestern Cape. They had interests in the newly discovered diamond fields in South-West Africa, then a German possession. Daniel De Pass was one of the pioneers of the sugar industry in Natal. The itinerant Jewish traders and peddlers (locally known as "smouses") traveled on foot or used animal-drawn transport to penetrate long distances, often amidst great hazards and hardships, to scattered hamlets and the extensive farms. They sold their wares and also provided a channel through which the products of the land could reach the ports and world markets. Many settled in the villages and at wayside stations as shopkeepers, so that eventually there was hardly a small town without one or more Jewish stores. These Jewish middlemen had a recognized place in the economy of the Cape and subsequently in the northerly territories.
Then came the revolution which transformed South Africa's economic structure: the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley (1870) and the opening of the Transvaal gold mines (1886; see *Johannesburg). The exploitation of mineral wealth called for enterprise, technical and managerial initiative, ability and great capital resources. There was a demand for commercial techniques, and the way was opened for the later development of secondary industries to supply the new communities which sprung up. The majority of Afrikaners, still largely a rural community, were not ready for the challenges of this new economic era, and the lead was taken by the English-speaking elements and foreigners of various nationalities, who flocked to the country. Among them Jews, mainly from Western Europe, became leaders of the mining industry (see B.I. *Barnato, the *Joels, Lionel *Phillips, George *Albu and David *Harris). With Cecil John Rhodes, Barnato founded De Beers Consolidated Mines which controlled the production and marketing of diamonds (see also *Diamond Industry and Trade). On the discovery of gold the same men, using the wealth and skill they had acquired in the diamond fields, took the lead in developing the gold mines. In later years, Ernest *Oppenheimer and his son Harry were at the head of De Beers and established widespread interests in the goldfields of the Transvaal and the newer goldfields of the Orange Free State, in the production of base minerals and uranium, and in the development of manufacturing industries. Many of the early
The next major movement forward – a latecomer in South Africa – was the development of secondary industry, which occurred after World War I and was greatly intensified during and after World War II. Jews, many of them from Eastern Europe, contributed greatly to this development through their pioneering spirit and readiness to take risks. Often starting from humble beginnings as peddlers, storekeepers, and handicraftsmen (tailors, shoemakers, cabinetmakers, brick-layers, and so on), they produced some of the most enterprising industrialists. Among the pioneers were Samuel *Marks, who immigrated to South Africa in the 1860s, and his partner Isaac Lewis, who, with the help of state concessions established a number of industries in the Pretoria area, from the production of dynamite for the mines to a distillery and glass works. The steel plant which they established in Vereeniging was the forerunner of the South African state-controlled iron and steel industry. Assisted by protective tariffs and by wartime conditions, industries for manufacturing food, clothing, textiles, furniture, leather articles, and others were established by Jewish enterprise. Clothing and textile factories, in particular, were developed into one of the most important sectors of South African industry, and Jews remained leaders in that field. In the 1930s, the refugees who arrived from Germany also introduced many new industries. The younger generation of South African-born Jews later diversified into other spheres like electronics, engineering, the chemical industries, and large-scale building construction. Jewish town planners, property developers, and builders were largely responsible for the modernization of Johannesburg and other cities to meet the needs of an increasingly urbanized population. Entrepreneurs, notably I.W. *Schlesinger, were among the leading figures in the tertiary industries (insurance, mass entertainment, hotel keeping, catering, and advertising). Jews were among the first in South Africa to introduce modern distribution techniques in the retail trade, such as the department store, the supermarket and the discount house. The largest chain stores were founded by Jews, most of whom started from small beginnings. Although few Jews took up agriculture, Jewish farmers, especially in the maize industry, fruit growing, dairy farming and viticulture, set examples of successful scientific farming. Schlesinger's citrus undertaking in the Transvaal became one of the largest of its kind in the world. Ostrich farming and marketing, until the decline of the industry after 1914, was developed by Jews in the Oudtshoorn area of the Cape, notable among them being the Rose brothers, Max and Albert.
The South African-born generation of Jews turned in increasing numbers to the professions, to medicine, law, pharmacy, and later to accountancy, engineering, architecture, and pure and applied science, often achieving positions of eminence. A high proportion of young people regularly study at the universities. There have been distinguished Jewish lawyers in the past, Simeon Jacobs, Manfred *Nathan, Leopold Greenberg, Philip *Millin, J. Herbstein, H.M. Bloch, Percy Yutar, Simon Kuper, Cecil Margo, Isie Maisels, Richard Goldstone, Sydney Kentridge, Albie Sachs, and Arthur Chaskalson, many of these going on to serve with distinction on the bench. In 2001, Arthur Chaskalson was appointed chief justice. Many Jews have distinguished themselves in medicine, medical research, and the development of health and hospital services.
Jews in the Armed Forces
Jewish service as volunteers in the armed forces of the nation dates back to the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902, when Jews fought on both sides. Jewish participation in army service has been in greater numbers, proportionally, than the rest of the white population. Thus in World War I, there were some 3,000 Jewish volunteers representing about 6% of the entire Jewish population of that time. In World War II over 10,000, above 10% of the Jewish population, were listed in the records kept by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies of Jews serving in the Union Defense Forces and with other Allied forces. Of these 357 were killed, 327 were wounded or injured, 143 were mentioned in dispatches, and 94 received various awards for distinguished service. Compulsory military conscription for white males was introduced in the early 1970s, which began at six months and eventually was extended to two years plus two further years of military camps. Shortly thereafter, in 1976, South Africa became embroiled in a war against South West African liberation fighters and Cuban forces on the Angola-South West Africa border. The war continued until 1989, when South West Africa, now called Namibia, gained its independence from South Africa. A number of Jewish conscripts, perhaps a dozen in all, were amongst those who lost their lives in the conflict.
During the years of compulsory military conscription, chaplaincy services to Jewish men in the armed forces were provided by a Chaplaincy Committee, composed of representatives of the Board of Deputies, the Federation of Synagogues (later the UOS), the Union of Progressive Judaism, the Jewish Ex-Servicemen's organization, the Union of Jewish Women, and the Rabbinical Association. The chaplains were usually ministers or rabbis serving communities in the areas where military camps were located. Most of the administrative work of the Chaplaincy Committee was carried out by the Board of Deputies. There were 30 Jewish chaplains serving in the field in World War II. Chaplaincy services were discontinued in 1994.
Jews have participated actively in all aspects of the cultural and artistic life of the country. Their work is recognized as part of South African culture. That they are Jews may not be irrelevant to their work, but does not determine the nature of their contributions. In the literary field, they have produced an imposing list of writers and artists, some of the first rank, including South Africa's foremost novelist, Sarah Gertrude *Millin. Also
Relations with Israel
South Africa's official relations with Israel were founded, significantly, in a month decisive for the destinies of both people, May 1948. Chaim Weizmann, describing May 15, the day after the establishment of the State of Israel, wrote: "I bethought myself of one surviving author of the Balfour Declaration and addressed a cable to General Smuts. This was closely followed by South African recognition (of Israel)" (Trial and Error, p. 585). In the same month, however, Smuts and his United Party were defeated in the South African elections and succeeded by Malan's Nationalist Party. Smuts had had a longstanding familiarity with Zionism, whereas the new government was less involved with the story of Zionism and the cause of Jewish statehood. The Smuts administration had steadfastly supported the Zionist cause in international forums and was among the governments which had voted in the United Nations for the partition of Palestine on Nov. 29, 1947. Under the Nationalists, South Africa continued to support Israel, voted for its admission to the United Nations in 1949, and backed it on a number of subsequent issues in that forum. South Africa's recognition of Israel was followed by the establishment of an Israel consulate-general in Johannesburg and an Israel legation in Pretoria. Out of consideration for its economic interests and ties with the Arab States, however, South Africa was for long reluctant to establish any diplomatic mission in Israel. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Malan made a personal visit to Israel in 1952.
During the 1960s, attitudes to Israel underwent a change, because of the statements and votes by Israel representatives at the United Nations, which were critical of South Africa's racial policies. The reactions at times caused considerable tension between the South African government and the Jewish community. When the Israel-Arab war broke out in 1967, however, public sympathy was strongly on Israel's side. Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, ties between Israel and South Africa, particularly in the military sphere, were steadily strengthened, a factor that contributed significantly to anti-Israel sentiment within the majority black population.
The establishment of these links between Israel and South Africa brought increasing and severe international criticism. Chaim Herzog, then Israel ambassador at the UN, revealed the hypocrisy of these allegations by his disclosure of details concerning large-scale secret trade between Arab, Asian and African nations and South Africa. On numerous occasions it was made plain by Israel that it had reservations about South African internal policies, but that it believed that it was essential to continue to foster cooperation between the countries despite differences of opinion on internal policies.
South Africa consolidated warm relations with Israel through the 1980s. However, as Western pressure against South Africa intensified, Israel was forced into reassessing this relationship. The United States threatened to cut military assistance to countries engaged in military trade with South Africa. In 1987 Israel agreed "to refrain from new undertakings between Israel and South Africa in the realm of defense." In line with its general opposition to sanctions as a policy, the South African Jewish leadership urged Israel not to take that step. Notwithstanding Israeli policy, the South African government continued to accept "approved enterprise to certain categories of investment" in Israel, among them residential housing, subject to certain conditions.
During the 1980s, left-wing and Islamist groups, such as the PAC, the Azanian Peoples' Organization (AZAPO), Call of Islam, and Qibla (a Muslim fundamentalist movement) pursued a vigorous anti-Zionist line. Their support was built upon black disappointment at close ties between South Africa and Israel and suspected military cooperation. Anti-Zionist sentiment was already evident at the time of the Lebanon War (1982) and consolidated during the first intifada. In particular the Muslim population of over 500,000 pursued a vigorous stance against Israel. This was very evident during the First Gulf War, intensifying during the years of the Oslo peace process and reaching unprecedented heights following the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. Notwithstanding sympathy for the Palestinian people, black leaders made a clear distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Nonetheless, there were indications of substantial "social distance" between blacks and Jews, including anti-Jewish attitudes among blacks.
The advent of black majority rule in 1994, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for the strongly pro-Palestinian African National Congress (ANC), saw a radical change in the government's attitude towards Israel. The relationship remained reasonably cordial during the years of the Oslo peace process but deteriorated sharply with the outbreak of the second intifada. While often critical of Israeli policy, however, the ANC (which was returned to office with increased majorities in the elections of 1999 and 2004) remains committed to dialogue
L. Feldman, Yidn in Johannesburg (1956); Jewish Affairs, 15 (1960); Zionist Record (March 21, 1961); idem, Jewish Affairs, vol. 15 no. 5 (May, 1960), M. Shain, The Roots of Anti-Semitism in South Africa (1994); S.E. Aschheim, in: JJS 12, 2 (Dec. 1970), 201–31. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Suttner (ed.), Cutting Through the Mountain – Interviews With South African Jewish Activists (1997); G. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience, 1910 – 1967 (1980); G. Shimoni, Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa (2003); M. Shain and R. Mendelsohn (eds.), Memories, Realities and Dreams – Aspects of the South African Jewish Experience (2002); Jewish Affairs, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Rosh Hashana 2003) (South African Jewish Board of Deputies centenary issue); M. Kaplan and M. Robertson (eds.), Founders and Followers – Johannesburg Jewry, 1887 – 1915 (1991); M. Arkin (ed.), South African Jewry – A Contemporary Survey (1984); M. Kaplan, Jewish Roots in the South African Economy (1986); Jewish Affairs 60th anniversary issue, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Rosh Hashana 2002).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.