South African Jewish Museum (St John’s Street Synagogue)

  • inter_StJohnsStSynagogue1a

Place Category: City Walk: Interfaith Route

  • Profile

    1861 house, stable and a large garden extending back from St John’s Street onto Government Avenue purchased (formerly the east side of Van Riebeeck’s vegetable garden) for £1 800.

    8 September, 1862 foundation stone laid by Samuel Rodolf. Architect CE Hogg; Byzantine style.

    13th September 1863, Rosh Hashanah, first purpose-built synagogue in consecrated in Sub Saharan Africa.

    1885 enlarged; architect: Charles Freeman; (£ 1 200).

    1904 south-western side demolished to make way for new Great Synagogue next door, which superseded the St John’s Street Synagogue in September 1905.

    3 August, 1958 Synagogue became the Jewish Museum.

    Objects of interest: Temple front with an admixture of Egyptian motifs, mosaic floor in front of ark presented by D Isaacs in honour of his mother who died in 1867, eternal light in front of Ark donated by Lewis Alexander, synagogue president 1878 – 1879; stained glass windows representing the Ten Commandments installed for 100th birthday of Sir Moses Montefiore who had donated generously to the building (1884).

    13 December, 2000 SA Jewish Museum opened by former President Nelson Mandela. Architects: Dennis Fabian, Berman and Hackner,

    Objects of interest: The museum traces the story of the Jews of South Africa, through memories, dreams, reality, through multimedia and interactive exhibitions.

    It highlights the role played by prominent South African Jews in the fight against apartheid.

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