REVEREND M. KONVISER B.A.,
to Our Jewish Youth of Rhodesia who have so nobly played their part in the
World War II
pages from the publication - see additional pages on left)
have thought the occasion appropriate for offering to the Salisbury Jewish
Community this short account of its history during the last fifty years. This
year marks the Golden Jubilee of our Congregation, a propitious moment to place
on record the origin, growth and development of Jewish life and progress in our
considerable: amount of new material, especially of a
personal nature, has now come to light; much of this along with other data of
great value has been collected for the first time from the Government Archives,
grateful thanks are tendered to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, the
Honourable Sir Godfrey M. Huggins, K.C.M.G., C.H., for his encouraging foreword,
and to Mr, V. W. Hiller, die Government Archivist, for placing at my disposal
valuable suggestions and material. I
am also indebted to the Committee of the Salisbury Hebrew Congregation for
making this publication possible.
this Monograph evoke the spirit of the past and recall the active and
conspicuous part which our predecessors played in Rhodesia.
SIVAN 5705. - - - JUNE, 1945.
The Prime Minister of
THE HONOURABLE SIR GODFREY
MARTIN HUGGINS, K.C.M.G., C.H.
much pleasure in introducing this Monograph by the Rev. M. Konviser to readers
in Southern Rhodesia and beyond our borders. The part played by Jewish men and
women in the early settlement of Southern Rhodesa has received little
publicity and acknowledgement.
Konviser quotes Rhodes's delightful remark when he heard of the establishment
of the first Synagogue in Mashonaland : "If the Jews come my country is
all right." But it was not only when the struggling young country had
proved its sound commercial prospects that the Jews came. As the writer of
this Monograph shows, members of his Faith were in at the beginning and shared
the hardships and disappointments of the very early days.
sons and daughters of Israel have played a worthy part in the history of this
country, and when we Consider the part the Jews are playing in the
armed forces of the Crown in the present war, we realise that the spirit 'of
the prophets in the land of Moses and the fanatical courage of the defenders
of Jerusalem in the first century of the Christian era is not dead.
of the Congregation
(picture of Reverend (Capt.) Konviser - click
JUBILEE of the Salisbury Hebrew Congregation marks an important milestone in the
history of Jewry in Southern Rhodesia. The establishment of the Congregation on
the 2nd June, 189'5, is, in fact, the commencement of that history.
of Jews numbering twenty men and two women, under the leadership of Messrs. Sam
Hyman and Joe Van Praagh, met at the Masonic Hotel, Salisbury, for the purpose
of forming the Congregation. At this meeting a collection towards a Synagogue
was made and the handsome sum of ,£399 was
raised by that small gathering. Mr. Hyman was elected first President. That
meeting must have been a momentous one, for "The Rhodesia Herald" of
the 5th June, 1895,
made a lengthy comment on such a remarkable achievement, adding that the Charter
Company had granted three stands on which to build a Synagogue. The enthusiasm
for matters spiritual displayed by that small band of workers evoked the
admiration of their Gentile neighbours
and the Press of the day. Small wonder that Cecil John Rhodes was really
overjoyed when he was shown the foundation of the Synagogue at Salisbury.
Colonel Frank Johnson, in his book "Great Days" (1940), makes an
interesting comment oh Rhodes's reaction when he heard that
a Synagogue was to be erected in Salisbury. He remarked that Rhodes became very
cheerful and quite excited, exclaiming, "My country is all right if the
Jews come, my country is all right! " "For he knew," says Colonel
Johnson, " that the presence of Jews meant they had faith in the commercial
prospects of the new country. ... How different," Johnson adds,
"to the Hitler theory fifty years later! "
(click on picture to enlarge)
was Mr. Hyman who was the first to promote the stock and share business in
Mashonaland, and the first to hold an appointment as official sworn appraiser
and valuator to the British South Africa
Company in 1891. As President of the Congregation he was followed in turn by
Messrs. H. Morris and J. Van Praagh. Messrs. Moss Harris, Monte Jacobs arid
Morris Freeman were hon. secretaries. It was Monte Jacobs who was the promoter
and secretary of the Salisbury Stock Exchange, which was then situated in the
cellar of the present Posada Bar. The first Minyan during the High Festivals of
1895 was held at Julius Altaian's store there was an attendance of about twenty
and a storekeeper named. Kaplan
read the Musaph Service.
In 1896 services were read by Messrs. Mack, Rosenthal and Freeman.