of the Salisbury Hebrew Congregation
(this piece was written for the
ceremony of laying Foundation Stones for the Salisbury Hebrew Congregation
- Communal Hall, School and Youth Centre - 12th
Salisbury Hebrew Congregation was founded on June 2nd, 1895. Twenty men
and two women met - that day under the chairmanship of Joe van Praagh
(five years later to become the-first Jewish Mayor of Salisbury). The
meeting was held in the old Masonic Hotel, Pioneer Street, and the news of
of the Congregation evoked the admiration of the Press of the day.
Cecil John Rhodes must
also have been delighted at the news for it was at this time that he
smilingly remarked: "If the Jews come, my country is all right."
He well knew that our co-religionists were in at the beginning and shared
the hardships and disappointments of the early pioneering days.
On right Mr I Lasovsky
welcomes Federal Prime Minister Sir Roy Welensky and his wife to the
Salisbury St Synagogue circa mid 1950s (click to enlarge)
In 1901, by which time the Community had
grown to 70, the first synagogue was built, in Rhodes Avenue. But by 1912
it proved too small for the growing Congregation, and services were held
at the old Masonic Hall, the Drill Hall and within the old Bank of Africa
Building. The present synagogue, in Salisbury Street, was erected in 1920.
The first Minister to be appointed was the
Rev. L. Rubin, who served the Congregation from 1909 to 1912 (before 1909
the community relied upon the services of lay readers). The second
Minister was the Rev. Mark Harris (1913 to 1915) who, it was recorded,
used to visit his flock mounted on a white horse.
Rev. Harris was succeeded by the Rev. Monty Levy, who served the
Congregation for three years. In 1918, the late Rev. J. J. Rosin, J.P.,
was appointed Minister and served until 1935, when the present incumbent.
M. Konviser, O.B.E., B.A., was appointed.
The lay leadership has, from the outset,
contained men of the highest calibre, many of whom, in addition to the
services they rendered their own Community, made their mark in public
life. Jews have played their full part in the affairs of the City Council,
and four have served as Mayor. Others have sat in the Legislature, and
outstanding contributions have been made to commerce, industry and
We shall always remember those who served
King and country during the early Rebellions and in two world wars. We
shall also never forget the names of those on our Roll of Honour, who paid
the supreme sacrifice.
By 1926, the Jewish Community had increased
to 650 souls and all the usual Congregational amenities were functioning
well. There had been established a Chevra Kaddisha (Burial Society),
Hebrew School, Social Societies, a strong Zionist movement. Youth
Societies, etc., and in various forms all these activities are still
Today, our Congregation has over 500 families
We are conscious of the deep debt of
gratitude we owe our pioneers for the legacy they have bequeathed us—a
legacy worthy of the best traditions of our Faith.
note Sept 26, 2011 - The congregation has dwindled to under 100
souls as many congregants emigrated or passed on. Services are still
maintained on Shabbat and Chagim and sometimes shared with the Sephardic
Shul in Harare.
Do you have any material
to contribute ? we need digital pictures or if you are prepared to send us
copies (only) of your originals - we will scan them for the site. Send
information and material to us ZJC