Outside the old shul, preparing to take the Sifrei Torah to the new shul (under the Chuppah are Rabbi Silberhaft and Chief Rabbi Goldstein

Chief Rabbi Goldstein leads the removal of the
Sifrei Torah from the Aron Kodesh at the old Krugersdorp shul

Jewish community celebrated another milestone in its 113 year-old history with the official opening of its new synagogue centre on the last Sunday of February. Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, former rabbi of the Krugersdorp congregation Rabbi Zev Gruzd, Country Communities spiritual leader Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft and past and present members of the community were amongst those in attendance on the historic occasion.


Declining numbers motivated last year's decision by the congregation to relocate from its 700-seat synagogue, in use since 1968, to smaller premises. The new shul, which is within a stones throw of the old building, has been established in a formal residential property and seats 150. While now numbering only 141 souls, Krugersdorp Jewry remains remarkably active, amongst other things holding thrice-daily minyanim headed by its current spiritual leader Danny Dworcan. It is one of the few Jewish congregations outside the main urban centres (others include Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay) where regular services take place on at least a weekly basis.      


Speaking from the pulpit of the imposing old synagogue building, Rabbi Goldstein drew parallels between the opening of the new shul and the previous day's Parsha reading, which described the building by the Jewish people of the Mishkan, the world's very first shul. He stressed that even though countless synagogues had come and gone over the ages, their achievements were an eternal part of the spiritual legacy of the Jewish people, and at the end of days would be regathered to Eretz Yisrael.


"Nothing is ever lost. We are all part of the magnificent journey of Jewish history, directed by Hashem" he said.


Marc Kopman, Chairman of the United Hebrew Institutions of Krugersdorp, sketched the history of the community from its establishment by the renowned Abner Cohen and others in 1894 through to the present day. The first shul had been consecrated in 1903, at which time the congregation included Jewish residents of neighbouring Randfontein. The latter eventually consecrated their own synagogue. The previous synagogue had been the third building used by the community for that purpose. Plans were afoot to convert it into a frail care centre for the aged.


Dr David Jankelowitz, President of the congregation, thanked the building committee for their dedicated efforts in ensuring that the new shul was ready in so short a time. He singled out for special praise the committee chairman Barry Friedman, treasurer Mike Fittinghoff and the builder Jasper Fourie, the latter who had completed the project at cost price without any profit to himself.