Of Alfred Beit and his munificent
contributions to the Rhodesias we need only add that the name given to him as
" the fairy godmother of Rhodesia" is a tribute richly deserved, for
he perhaps more than anyone else helped Cecil Rhodes to make Rhodesia secure. To
the many who today enjoy his bounties, be they educational, social or
philanthropic, must come the thought that it was Alfred Beit who made so deep a
Alfred Beit, 1853-1906.
upon his contemporaries and his name must inevitably be written large across
this vast area of the Southern Hemisphere.
Whilst reading with pride that long list of
Jewish pioneers, we are conscious of that old dictum of Plato, "as it is
the commendation of a good huntsman to find game in a wide wood, so it is no
imputation if he hath not caught all." And so it is to those pioneers who
had to bear the
brunt and heat of the day that we in all humility pay our
deep debt of gratitude for the legacy which they left us—a legacy that the
Rhodesia of the present shall yet hand on to the Rhodesia of the future, an
inheritance and a message worthy of their dreams and
The Great War 1914-1918
this period the Jewish youth of Rhodesia played a full and significant part in
the defence of their country. Many paid the supreme sacrifice and others were
awarded decorations. The first soldier killed in the German West African
Campaign was a Jew, Ben Rabinson. Out of a total Jewish population of 1,280 some
118 able-bodied men were
on active service. Serving on the Executive of the British Empire Service League
in Bulawayo and Salisbury are Jewish ex-Service men of the Great War who now
figure so prominently in Jewish Communal affairs.
World War II
When the Empire is once again involved in
this greatest struggle for Freedom and Righteousness we find how the Jewish
Youth of Rhodesia to-day has so nobly demonstrated its loyalty to the country.
In the official " call-up " group between the ages of 18'55, we have
the high percentage of 39.8 per cent. of our Jewish male population and 10.9 per
cent of our Jewish women on active service and taking their part in every
theatre of the war.
While this cannot be regarded as a mere
compendium of statistical information, it nevertheless can present the fact that
of the total number serving in the Rhodesian Army and Air Force, 4.8 per cent.
are members of the Rhodesian Jewish Community, 20 have been decorated on the
field of battle, while 31 appear on the casualty list, most of these having paid
the supreme sacrifice. Among these are to be found the two Hon. Secretaries of
our Congregation, Norman. Price and Basil Hyman.
new immigrants from the countries of persecution who had found protection and
safety in the Colony soon placed their services at the disposal of the Defence
authorities. It was not till September, 1940, that the special " Internment
Camp Corps" was formed. All these able-bodied immigrants, particularly from
Germany and Austria, volunteered for service. Eventually this Corps was
incorporated in the Defence Department, but with one proviso—they were not
eligible for combatant duty beyond the borders of the Colony. They have
nevertheless rendered sterling
service in this Corps and their efforts have been recognised as a worthy
contribution by the Government.
Members of our
Community are also to be found in all the part'time units, the Voluntary Police
Reserve and the Women JPolice section. Our Rhodesian Jewish Community have
contributed liberally to all the War Appeals, viz;., the National War Fund, Air
Raid Distress Funds, the Red Cross and a host of others, including the Victory
Thanksgiving Fund. In Salisbury the special " Women's War Effort Committee
" presented an ambulance to the Government, organised knitting circles,
assisted the war fetes and dispatched comforts to the lads " up
north." Individual contributions included an aeroplane and an ambulance,
while a local firm undertook to provide all the army tunics for the Native
of the Community
We have now travelled far
along the road of Jewish life in this Colony. The largest Congregation is in
Bulawayo with some 1,500 'souls, followed by Salisbury and its districts with a
Jewish population of
School in Rhodest'a, established
at Bulawayo in 1901. Centre: Rev.M.
I. Cohen. M.B.E.. B.A.)
1,250, while Gatooma, Gwelo and Que Que, the next organised Jewish
centres, number about 250. Despite the absence of the spiritual guidance of a
Minister, congregational life in these smaller places is fairly active.
Jews of Southern Rhodesia are-conscious of the equal opportunities that exist to
advance the social and economic life of the country, for while legislature is
equitable the loyalty of the Rhodesian Rev.
J. J. Rosin, J.P., Minister of the Congregation. 1918-1935.
is unquestionable. He therefore figures in all walks of life : agriculture,
industry, trade, the professions and the Service occupations.
The spirit of active co-operation in all
civic and national endeavours between the Jew and his neighbour is well known.
He plays his part ori the executive committees of all charitable, social and
cultural activities. Specifically in the fields of agriculture and industry has
he made great strides, and even in the ambitious scheme of establishing a
Rhodesian University we find a co-religionist, Mr. J. F. Kapnek, offering the
nucleus, of a fund for such a purpose.
Guild Hall. Salisbury - erected
our own sphere of Jewish life the Salisbury Hebrew Congregation continues its
work unabated. The religious,
cultural, benevolent and social activities as well as our strong Zionist
sentiment continue apace, while the co-operation of our youth with the various
organisations is indeed praiseworthy. With a view of co-ordinating all
Jewish and national efforts in Southern and Northern Rhodesia, the Council for
Rhodesian Jewry and the Rhodesian Zionist Council have
been formed with offices in Salisbury and Bulawayo.