(QueQue) Cemetery Redication
CEMETERY - RE-DEDICATION SERVICE
Speech given by Peter Sternberg
SUNDAY JUNE 13, 2004
Rabbi Silberhaft, Rabbi Asmoucha, Presidents of the Bulawayo, Harare and
Sephardi Congregations, Ladies & Gentlemen, On behalf of the Zimbabwe
Jewish Board of Deputies I should like to welcome you to the Kwekwe
Cemetery service. As you are probably aware, the Board of Deputies, after
having witnessed the cemetery in Kadoma being repaired and renovated,
decided to start a programme of their own regarding country cemeteries in
Zimbabwe, and as a result, work on the Gweru Cemetery commenced a few
years ago. In due course the small cemetery in Penhalonga
Picture above taken at the ceremony June 2004
by Benny Leon
L-R F Plein, S Benatar, Rabi Silberhaft, P Sternberg, Rabbi Asmoucha,
was repaired and
protected and this in turn was followed by the Mutare cemetery around
which a wall was constructed.
This finally left the Kwekwe cemetery to be attended to and, after almost
years of endeavour, this project has now come to fruition. And the reason
this project has taken almost two years to complete - well, attempting to
organize and supervise any project from a distance of over 200 kilometres
away can prove somewhat frustrating to say the least!
a reliable builder who will undertake a relatively small project such as
this one can be a problem from the start. Obtaining a quotation in this
day and age with prices escalating on a daily basis proved to be a
problem. Then a cement shortage engulfed the country, halting all work for
some months. When cement once again became available the local crushing
plant was in no position to supply stone, and when the stones finally
became obtainable there was a fuel shortage and trucks could not deliver
the stone because of lack of diesel.
In the meantime the gates had been delivered but the night before
they were due to be installed, they were stolen, so that replacement gates
had to be
manufactured. The tap, after being broken and not working for many years,
replaced - only to be stolen within the first week or two!
It has not been an easy ride!
However, with much perseverance the project was finally completed and for
I must thank the builder Mr Ahmed 'Jack'Moosa. Unfortunately, Mr Moosa
passed away just a few weeks ago.
In the meantime weeds and undergrowth had once more made their presence
felt within the cemetery, as is wont to happen in this country in
everywhere, and so I obtained the kind services of Mr Mohammed Miya, one
of the leaders of the community here in Kwekwe to supervise the cleaning
cemetery so that it is in the condition you see here today. I would
like to thank Mr Miya for undertaking this task and would like to state
relations amongst our two communities are extremely cordial and respectful
and long may it remain so!
You may be wondering why there are but 16 graves in this cemetery and that
the first grave only dates back to 1953 when one considers that Kwekwe has
had a Jewish presence since the turn of the last century. The reason is
deceased prior to the 1950's were buried either in Gweru or mainly in
This explains why the Kwekwe cemetery has far fewer graves than the other
two Midlands towns of Gweru and Kadoma. There are a lot of 'thank you's'
which it is my pleasant task to perform today. If I leave anyone out, my
apologies for the oversight. To the members of the Zimbabwean Jewish Board
of Deputies for agreeing on the Country Cemeteries project in the first
place. In today's uncertain times, and the possible future, or perhaps
lack of future that our community faces, it is incumbent upon us to
undertake projects of this nature, because we know all too well what can
and does befall places such as these.
To Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft who flew up from Johannesburg to be with us for
this special occasion, our sincere thanks. 'The Travelling Rabbi' by which
name he is widely known, is indeed a unique person and we are blessed to
administer to us, and for his always solid advice. My thanks to Rabbi
Asmoucha of Bulawayo for coming here today and giving us the opportunity
meeting him for the first time. I hope there will be many other
to do so.
To those of you who have driven here from both Harare and Bulawayo to make
this service possible, our grateful thanks - your appearance here today is
appreciated. I wish to thank those former residents of this town who
whole-heartedly to my worldwide appeal for funds to help finance this
A number of generous donations were received which went a long way towards
meeting the costs involved.
To our wives who will be providing us with lunch in the open despite the
somewhat spartan conditions. Unfortunately the last kosher restaurant
in Kwekwe a few decades ago. In the circumstances I thank our ladies most
sincerely for their devotion to duty. And last but not least we honour
today the memory of those who lie buried here, some of them stalwart
pioneers from a previous generation, who helped build Kwekwe into a
thriving town and who were part of a small but vibrant Jewish community
with its own synagogue, resident Minister, cheder and active Zionist
Society. Their descendants have largely emigrated and left Africa but I am
sure that their thoughts will be with us today.
ZIMBABWE JEWISH BOARD OF DEPUTIES