SONS HONOUR MEMORY OF MAX MELAMED
Ian, Jonty, Graham Melamed and Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft
standing in front of the grave of Max Melamed
On 17 November 2006, an article describing the discovery of a
long-forgotten Jewish cemetery in Mufulira, Zambia, appeared in the
S A Jewish Report. The cemetery was discovered in the course of a
"mitzvah mission" headed by the African Jewish Congress to place a
new tombstone on the grave of Sarah Mohrer, a Jewish resident of the
now long defunct Mufulira Jewish community. In the course of his
trip Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, Spiritual Leader to the African Jewish
Congress, also visited the Kitwe Jewish cemetery. There he made a
second important discovery, the almost completely buried remains of
the smashed headstone of Max Melamed, who passed way in December
Ian Melamed, the late Max's son, was shocked on reading about what
had happened to his father's grave. He met with Rabbi Silberhaft,
and it was decided to have a new headstone made and erected on the
On 19 February this year Max Melamed's two sons Ian and Graham and
Ian's youngest son Jonathan accompanied Rabbi Silberhaft to Kitwe.
There they were joined by Gus Leibowitz, a long-time Jewish resident
of the town. All five gathered together at the final resting place
of Max Melamed for the ceremonial relaying of the new headstone
(which was laid flat in concrete to prevent future vandalism). Rabbi
Silberhaft spoke about the sacred responsibility of children to
ensure the care and sanctity of their parent's graves. As there was
no minyan at the graveside, Ian and Graham recited Kaddish for their
beloved father in Johannesburg the following day.
Max Melamed and his wife Ann arrived in Chingola, Zambia, in 1958 to
work for Max's brother-in-law, Morris Gersh. Ian and Graham attended
Chingola High School, and afterwards Ian worked in the Standard Bank
in Kitwe. After his father's death, Ian successfully applied for a
transfer to Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia, his reason being that
there were "no Jewish girls to marry on the Copperbelt" (upon
receiving this application, his superior asked "if the application
was on passionate or compassionate grounds"). Ian succeeded in
finding a Jewish bride and the couple, after a short stay in the UK,
settled in South Africa in 1981.
Ian commented on how different the Zambia of today was from that of
his boyhood, but was grateful that Jewish graves continued to be
properly looked after, despite the virtual disappearance of the
Jewish community. It was "truly marvellous", he said, that someone
cared enough to keep a very old cemetery such as Kitwe's in so clean
and respectful condition.
Graham Melamed commended Rabbi Silberhaft and Gus Liebowitz on the
amazing work they had done to preserve the Jewish heritage.
"Yesterday was a very emotional day, with its emphasis on our
beloved father, Max Melamed, but there were also moments of joy when
we remembered the fun times we had in Zambia in our formative years"