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History of the Jews in South Africa

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History of the Jews in South Africa


Basic Information

Location 33° 55′ 31″ S, 18° 25′ 26″ E
Country South Africa
City Cape Town

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates -33.92528,18.42389


The history of the Jews in South Africa mainly begins with the European settlement in the 19th century. The early patterns of Jewish South African history are almost identical with the history of the Jews in the United States but on a much smaller scale, including the period of early discovery and settlement from the late 15th century to the early 19th century. Jews played a prominent role in the development of the diamond and gold fields, with Alfred Beit, Barney Barnato and others becoming notable Randlords. Many Jews were involved in the anti-apartheid movement, with Joe Slovo, Albie Sachs, Dennis Goldberg, Harry Schwarz and Helen Suzman being among the most notable. Meanwhile, Israel maintained deepening military and diplomatic ties with South Africa between 1967-1990. South African Jewry differ significantly from those in other developing countries in that the majority of South African Jews still remain in South Africa (62% of the original 120,000 still remain), and that a significant number of those that did move abroad went to countries popular among other South African émigrés such as Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as Israel.

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