MAP TO JEWISH CAPE TOWN
The MAP TO JEWISH CAPE TOWN provides a comprehensive and illustrated guide to "Jewish Routes and Roots in Cape Town & Surrounds." Muizenberg, the story of THE SHTETL BY THE SEA features in this amazing guide to Jewish Cape Town. You will find the reference at number 27 on page 2 of the map.
Please click on the link we have provided for the full version of the map.
False Bay Echo, Cape Community Newspapers, Independent Media South Africa
Hedy seen with Jacqui Rodgers at her Book Launch at the SA Jewish Museum in March. (Photograph by Stanley Norrie
This review first appeared in the South African Jewish Report. Robyn Sassen has informed me that due to editing the name of Jonty Peters, who digitised the photographs was omitted, and the full quotation by Mrs Rose Norwich was cut – it should read, “ … in your wonderful story you have given life to every South African Jewish country community. “
Herman Lategan: Thoughts on golden wings to Jerusalem by the Sea 2014-03-15
shtetl – small Jewish village or settlement, particularly in Eastern Europe. Part XIV of the Woordeboek van die Afrkaanse Taal. Chief Editor: WF Botha
Early in the last century when the Jews were hounded out from their homes in Eastern Europe, many landed in Muizenberg (of all places). In the recently published book, Muizenberg, the Story of the Shtetl by the Sea, by local historian Hedy I Davis, charming tales of this pioneering group’s important stories of survival are told in detail.
If you wish to learn about their hardship, poverty and loss, and how with hard work and much chutzpah to survive, they came out on top, then these stories will serve as an inspiration in the face of the challenges of life. They came by ship, most of them very poor and some had a few precious items of clothing and perhaps a tsatska or two (Yiddish for a memento or object of little value).
Among the wonderful names of these refugees were Abe, Solly, Pearl and Rosa, the surnames Feinberg, Herschler, Hirschberg and Jankelowitz. Very few if any spoke English. As one ventured through the little lanes of the village, it was usually Yiddish that one heard. Words that one might hear often were landsleit (people who hailed from the same district or shtetl) luft, ((the wonderful Muizenberg air)and shopkas (which described the tiny mom and pop stores of the village).
In the Synagogue, the Cantor’s sonorous voice would move the congregation, each note loaded with a longing for places that had been left behind, but with the hope of a new and better life.
One almost gets goose-pimples reading the stories. To survive they became house maids and helpers, and they took on professions such as carpenters, shoe repairers and butchers. They were also outstanding as the managers of top hotels and boarding houses, and were known for their hospitality and tasty kosher cooking. Within a short while, Jews from all over South Africa heard of this community and after the Great War they came to Muizenberg for holidays or to start a new life. The most admirable survivors of that time were the balabostes, the tough ladies of ‘Jewsenberg’ as it would soon become known.
One such lady, who has caught my attention was Bessie Myers, a poor seamstress bringing up her children all alone. She sewed day and night to alter clothes for difficult clientele and had to rent miserable back rooms for her and her two children. If the owner decided to put up the rent, Bessie would take to the streets with her children and with all their worldly possessions, going from door to door to find affordable lodgings. She was proud, hardworking and later she created such a good reputation that she would be employed by some of the richest members of the community. Her motto through life – ‘Mach nit kein cheibes!’ Don’t incur debts.
Just so, dear Bessie. Just so!
Bessie Myers and her two youngest sons – photo S Myers
Herman Lategan: Gedagtes op goue vlerke na Jerusalem by die see 2014-03-15 23:20
shtetl s.nw. Klein Joodse dorpie of nedersetting, veral in Oos-Europa. – Deel XIV van die Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (S - SKOOI). Hoofredakteur: W.F. Botha.
Vroeg in die vorige eeu toe die Jode soos verwaarloosde straatdiere vir hul lewe moes vlug en verwilder is uit Oos-Europa, het baie van hulle in Muizenberg (van alle plekke) beland.
In die pas gepubliseerde boek, Muizenberg, the Story of the Shtetl by the Sea, deur die plaaslike historikus Hedy I. Davis, word hierdie trotse volk en klein pioniersgemeenskap se merkwaardige storie van oorlewing in detail vertel.
As jy wil weet van verskriklike swaarkry, armoede, verlies, en hoe om met harde werk en tonne chutzpah (goetspa) weer op te staan, aan te hou en bo uit kom, dan is dié ou verhale onontbeerlik as inspirasie teen die aanslae van die lewe. Hulle het per skip aangekom, die meeste was brandarm en het niks anders besit as ’n paar karige stukke klere en miskien ’n tsatske of twee nie (Jiddisj vir memento of kleinigheid van min waarde).
Van hierdie vlugtelinge se wonderlike name was Abe, Solly, Pearl en Rosa, die vanne, Feinberg, Friedlander, Hirschberg en Jankelowitz. Bitter min van hulle kon enige Engels praat. As jy deur die klein, kronkelende klipstrate geloop het, was dit gereeld net Jiddisj. In grepies van gesprekke is woorde soos landsleit (mense van dieselfde ouwêreldse distrik of shtetl), luft (die lug), en shopkas (klein winkel) gereeld gehoor.
Die kantor se droewe stem het dikwels deur stegies gedryf, elke noot gekodeer met ’n verlange na mense en plekke wat agtergelaat is, maar met die hoop op ’n nuwe, beter lewe.
’n Mens kry skoon hoendervel. Om te oorleef het van hulle skoonmakers en huishulpe geword, ook ambagte aangepak soos timmermanne, skoenmakers, en slagters. Hulle was ook uitstekend as die bestuurders van top-hotelle en -losieshuise, bekend vir hul sindelikheid en smaaklike kosjer kos.
Binnekort het Jode van oor die hele wêreld van dié gemeenskap gehoor en het hulle ná die groot oorloë hier kom vakansie hou of ’n nuwe lewe kom aanpak. Van die sterkste oorwinnaars van pyn en verbeuring gedurende dié tye was die balabostes, die kragtige vroue van “Jewsenberg”, soos dit ook later bekend gestaan het.
Een so ’n vrou wat in my hart ingekruip het, was ene Bessie Myers, ’n arm naaldwerker en ’n weduwee. Sy het dae en nagte omgewerk aan klere vir moeilike mense en moes bedompige agterkamertjies huur om in te bly met haar twee kinders.
As die eienaar besluit het om die huur op te sit, het Bessie die pad gevat met haar jongelinge, waar hulle gereeld gesien is met ál hul wêreldse besittings in hul maer armpies. Van huis tot huis het hulle geloop en klop, op soek na bekostigbare losies. Sy was trots, hardwerkend, en later het sy so 'n goeie naam vir haarself opgebou dat sy beroemd geraak het en deur die rykste mense in die Kaap aangestel is. Haar leuse tot haar dood? “Mach nit klein cheibes!” Moenie skuld hê nie.
Netso ou Bessie, netso.
From Maureen (Boerbaitz) Kimmel in the UK comes this kind note:
I must thank you for publishing this wonderful treasure of a book, from which I am learning such a lot about Muizenberg.
Although I spent my childhood there, I was not aware of the rich cultural life in the years leading to the forties, when the pavilion was such a great centre of the village. Reading this book also brings back other memories, of family, friends and places, so is a marvellous resource, and I love delving in to it.
We are still awaiting reviews from the South African Jewish Report, the Cape Town Jewish Chronicle and others... but in the meantime complements to the author flow in, including a wonderful phone call from Mrs ROSE NORWICH, co-author and convenor of the South African Countries Community books, of which so far four have been published. She congratulated me and told me how much she had enjoyed reading the book, and she added, in your wonderful story, you have given life to every South African Jewish country community.....Higher praise than that one will have to go far to find. I am deeply honoured.
Another successful book signing by author Hedy I Davis at Kitchenique this past Sunday, 9 February 2014. The book is available for purchase through Kitchenique at Woodmead Retail Park as well as on-line at the Kitchenique Webstore.
Muizenberg the story of THE SHTETL BY THE SEA
On Friday my daughter, Daniella Brenner, was lucky enough to win your book Muizenberg – the Shtetl by the Sea on Chaim FM, which she gave to me as a gift, knowing my Muizenberg connection. This was a big surprise to me, and what was an even bigger surprise to the family was that I could immediately show them the family photo of my Grandparents and father in the book!
Later in the afternoon I started reading through the book and found you had included my grandfather’s letter – how tactfully and diplomatically you have been in your placing of it. Thank you. And, of course, my congratulations to you on the culmination of your Major Opus. The fact that you have given a history which encompasses so many lives is wonderful, and undoubtedly will be appreciated by many.
All the best
Dr Adele Asher
(Dr Asher is the granddaughter of Rev Sam Michelson, the first Minister to the Muizenberg and Kalk Bay Hebrew Congregation, 1919 – 1924)
Another book on Muizenberg – yes, and this one has a wonderful story to tell – that of the Jewish community who between 1880 and 1980 became so much part of the fabric of the village that it became known as ‘Jewsenberg’!
A century ago an elegant Edwardian railway station building was opened in Muizenberg, the only structure of its kind at any of the suburban railway stations in the Cape Peninsula. It was a symbol of the hope and promise that the seaside village of Muizenberg held, and within five years the Jewish community who had settled there would establish themselves as the Muizenberg and Kalk Bay Hebrew Congregation. By 1924 they had already appointed their first Minister, built a Synagogue and made their mark. This is the story of that community and the place where they chose to settle, for the two were closely entwined.
Hedy Davis has been most thorough in her research and has collected hundreds of memoirs from ex-Muizenbergers of all generations. She narrates the fascinating story of how the Jewish community flourished and how close on one hundred hotels and boarding houses would be established by the time that Muizenberg reached the height of its popularity. Immigrant Jews flocked to Muizenberg and by 1950 it was recorded that approximately 450 Jewish families lived in the village itself.
The author brings to life the story of the first Jewish settlers who came to Muizenberg – Isidore Hirsch, his wife Rosa and family who settled there in 1880. And from some of the oldest surviving members of the Congregation come accurate accounts of life in the village during the first decades of the nineteenth century. These are deeply moving human stories of strong men and amazing women who would create a hotel industry based on selfless commitment to making a success without having had any experience or training, but by sheer determination and perseverance. There are family accounts made public for the first time that entertain the reader with an insight into the trials and tribulations of those who were bent on creating a thriving seaside resort at one of the finest beaches in the world.
From the very beginning Muizenberg hoteliers were frustrated by the short summer “Season” and yet for several decades they were highly successful in their ventures. Hedy Davis explores the reasons for the decline in the Jewish population, the parallel collapse of the hotel industry and inevitable economic collapse of the village.
This well written book is punctuated with a collection of 110 beautifully restored photographs that provide a fine record of the changing times.
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