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Krugersdorp Jews

David Super calls himself Dovid, the way David is pronounced in Yiddish, the language spoken in Eastern Europe, where Jews had lived for hundreds of years after leaving the land of Judea in the days of Roman rule, anytime between the 1st and the 8th centuries.

They didn’t go directly to Eastern Europe; they spent hundreds of years in countries in Western Europe like Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

They came to South Africa and other countries, known as the New World, like the countries in North and South America.

I met these Jews in Krugersdorp, 8 days after my birth. They were all standing around me while one of them, the godfather known as the Sandek, held me in his lap on the circumcision chair, known as the chair of Elijah, presumably because one of the deeds that made Elijah famous as a reviver of the dead was that he had brought a child back to life and, if things went wrong today he’d be available to do the job again.

Everyone drank lehaim and nodded their heads in approval of a new scion to the Jewish faith.

I’ve already, in outline stated the origin of these Jews, but as I grew up amongst them I grew ever more curious about what made them choose Krugersdorp as a place to live.

At first, I thought that they must have been unhappy or poor or have suffered persecution to make them want to leave Eastern Europe. The Jews of Krugersdorp came mostly from Lithuania. My father came from Posvil, a small town in Lithuania.

In the 1930s when my old man came here, none of these factors applied in any great measure; they weren’t very poor, nor very persecuted and were in fact quite happy. Eastern Europe and Lithuania especially provided a cradle, like a flower bed, in which three important features of the Jewish People thrived, namely:

The love of learning everything is associated with Judaism, generally known as Torah.

Ambition to accumulate wealth to improve the standard of living.

A yearning to revive the ancient Jewish homeland.

South Africa and of course Krugersdorp and other similar S.African towns were well known to the Jews of Lithuania long before my father was born.

They had received letters from families who had settled there already in the last years of the 1880s probably adventurous youngsters who had heard about the discovery of gold.

These letters aroused hopes in the hearts of Lithuanian Jews that not only could they better themselves materially but they’d be able to establish houses of learning and prayer similar to those which they had in Lithuania.

The promise of this dual achievement, the material and spiritual attracted them to S.Africa. There was also another hope in their hearts, the hope of recreating the ancient homeland in another land.

This made them people with an ideal greater than themselves and lies at the basis of their efforts to create a Jewish scholastic environment in S. Africa.

I think that this ideal was, however, sidetracked because of the establishment of the State of Israel, which offered a real return, not a virtual return.

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