Meet the Jewish Community of



Jews settled in Malmesbury in the late 19th century. By 1904 there were 114 members of the congregation established in 1900, and nearly 250 Jews in the town. The community reached its zenith in the 1920s and 1930s with 275 Jews. From the late 1940s it dwindled until by the mid-70s there were said to be no Jews left. Many started out as smouse (commercial travellers) then became general dealers and were involved in all types commerce. They contributed to the social and economic life of Malmesbury. Many of their children excelled at school and became well-respected professionals as doctors, lawyers and accountants, across the country and the world.

These are the names of some of the Malmesbury families. Where we have a more substantial family story, their name will be a link that you can click to read their story. If you know about them, and would like to add some details, please contact

  1. Bass, Berthe: Daughter of Abraham and Leah Cohen, wife of Dr Louis Bass.
  2. Beinart, Benzion: Woolf's son, was professor of law at Rhodes University and the University of South Africa. He was also Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town and later at Birmingham University in England.
  3. Beinart, Julian: Koppel's son, qualified as an architect at UCT followed by masters degrees at MIT in Boston and at Yale. He lectured in architecture at Wits, became professor of town planning at the University of Cape Town and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Art and Architecture, before taking up a similar appointment at MIT.
  4. Beinart, Koppel: Brother of Woolf, came to Malmesbury in 1908. He owned the Malmesbury Wine & Brandy Co. He was on the Malmesbury Town Council from 1940 to 1953, when Nachum Bloch replaced him as councillor.
  5. Beinart, Woolf: Settled in the early 1900s: Was one of the founders of the congregation in 1904. The family played an important role in Malmesbury's Jewish Community. Many family members worked the salt pans in the Bredasdorp and Darling areas. Their children did very well.
  6. Berman, Jacob and Rebecca: From Plungyan, parents of Sally Berman and grandparents of Colin Robinson.
  7. Bloch, Nachum: Bought the Talmud Torah building from the community in 1947 when it became too expensive to maintain. Became a town councillor in 1953 after Koppel Beinart.
  8. Chorn, Joseph: A smous, the first person buried in the cemetery.
  9. Cohen, Abraham and Leah: Settled in Malmesbury in 1915 at the request of Leah's brother, Benzion Olswang, a successful farmer in the area. Abraham died suddenly in 1925.
  10. Cohen, Berthe: Daughter of Abraham and Leah, married Louis Bass.
  11. Cohen, Nathan (Tony): Son of Abraham and Leah, killed in action in 1944.
  12. Efron, Rev: Arrived in Malmesbury in 1922 and stayed until 1942, when he went to Maitland.
  13. Fonn, Solomon: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  14. Goldman, Dr Leon: Son of founder member Max Goldman, purchased the synagogue building in 1974 and transferred it to the Malmesbury municipality to be used for cultural purposes only. His brother Ralph Goldman became a judge in Namibia and brother Charles Sidney Goldman wrote several books, owned plantations in Kenya and Canada before retiring to his farm in Malmesbury in 1955 aged 84.
  15. Goldman, Max: Founder member of the congregation, drew up plans for the building of the synagogue.
  16. Herzfeld, Morris: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  17. Horwitz, Edel: Became the president and chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, was on the World Zionist General Council from 1960 and was president of the United Zionist Association from 1959; he was also president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in 1958-59.
  18. Horwitz, Herman: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  19. Katz, Abraham: A founder of the congregation, he laid the foundation stone of the synagogue (11.11.11) together with Benzion Olswang. He farmed with his son Lutie Katz in the northern Cape, Namibia, the Cape Flats and Durbanville. They bought the farm Yzerfontein on the Western Cape Coast and subdivided it into residential stands, thus establishing the Yzerfontein Seaside Estates Resort in 1936. In 1997 this was still managed by Lutie’s sons Jeff and Dennis Katz.
  20. Katzman, Benny and Helen: Benny was a pharmacist from Oudtshoorn. They lived in Malmesbury with their four children for some years before making aliyah.
  21. Krafchik family: Settled in the very early 1900s. First president of the Malmesbury Hebrew Congregation in 1901 and member of the first committee of the Ohel Jacob Hebrew Congregation in 1904. Involved in Zionist affairs. First Malmesbury delegate to the Board of Deputies.
  22. Kretzmar, Julius: Born in Malmesbury in 1907. Officially opened the Jewish section of the Malmesbury museum in the synagogue on 10 October 1991. Go to the Images page to see and hear his speech and the opening ceremony.
  23. Kretzmar, Noel: Born in 1899 in Lithuania, became the first speciality surgeon in Kimberley.
  24. Kretzmar, Tobias: Born in 1867 in Birzh, Lithuania; family settled in Malmesbury in 1903. Founder member of the Ohel Jacob Congregation and its first treasurer. Delegate to the Zionist Conference in Cape Town. Two sons, Noach (Noel) and Julius, studied in Edinburgh and became doctors in Kimberley; the third son, Arnold, became a lawyer in Bloemfontein and Pretoria.
  25. Luntz, Maurice: Son of pioneers Monty and Sarah Luntz, qualified as a specialist ophthalmologist. He lectured at Oxford University and at UCT and in 1964 was made the first professor of the speciality at Wits. In 1974 he was the first South African to be elected a member of the International Council of Ophthalmologists. In 1978 he became Professor of Ophthalmology at Beth Israel Hospital in New York.
  26. Miller family: Settled in the very early 1900s.
  27. Olswang, Benzion: Brother of Leah Cohen; cattle dealer and benefactor to the community. Laid the foundation stone of the synagogue with Abraham Katz on 11.11.11.
  28. Paires, Michel: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  29. Resnick, Israel: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899. Bennie Resnick, son of Israel and Rachel (Blume), played a leading role in the transfer of the synagogue effects to the Herzlia School synagogue in 1972 and in the restoration of the cemetery in 1996.
  30. Robinson, Sally (née Berman): Born in Malmesbury, mother of Colin Robinson.
  31. Sachar, Dr Julius: Took over the farm Tierhooghte from his father, David Sachar. He specialised in intensive dairying and bred Friesland cows. In 1968 he won the South African Agricultural Union’s Master Farmer Award for his work on soil conservation.
  32. Stanowitz, Mane: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  33. Sternberg, Lazer and Isobel: It was through Lazer, one of the last Jews of Malmesbury, that the four Sifrei Torah of the synagogue were donated to Herzlia School in Highlands.
  34. Steyn, Chaim: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.
  35. Stoch, Professor Leslie: Son of a pioneering family. After obtaining his BSc at UCT, settled in the South African Habonim Kibbutz Tzora. He subsequently obtained further degrees at the Technion and in Delft, Holland. He became Professor of Surveying at the Technion.
  36. Stoh family: Settled in the very early 1900s.
  37. Tobias, Joshua and Anne: Settled in the very early 1900s, their son Boykey Tobias's farm Elandsvlei at Kalbaskraal became the training ground for young people volunteering to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. He subsequently made aliyah to Israel.
  38. Treivis, Hillel: In 1918 he was the owner of the first flour mill in Malmesbury and was a director of the co-operative in the Swartland.
  39. van der Westhuizen, Piet: A great friend of the Jewish Community. In 1922, he gave part of his farm Rozenberg to be the Jewish cemetery in perpetuity. He contributed to the cost of the Tahara house and the wall around the cemetery. He contributed generously to Zionist funds. His children keep the cemetery under control.
  40. Wyner, George: Settled in Malmesbury by 1899.

Please send your family story to add to our community pages.