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Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi) - Jewish Community

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  • Michael Welensky, SV/PROG (c.1843 - d.)
    Michael Welensky was trhe first President of the Gwelo (Gweru in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Hebrew Congregation around 1897. He was drawn to the Kimberley diamonds of South Africa where he made and l...
  • Harry Braslovsky (c.1894 - 1956)
    Lithuanian immigrants to Rhodesia. Their daughter went by the surname Braudo. Reported to be "observant Jews" who lived on a farm in the bush in Gweru (known as Gwelo until 1982). Muriel (Murial) Cle...
  • Herta Buchheimer (1900 - 1969)
    Source: Heilbrunn tree
  • Samuel Benatar (c.1928 - 2015)
    Zimbabwean Jewish leader Sam Benatar dies Fri, 06 Mar 2015 Tributes have flowed in for the late Sam Benatar, the president of the Zimbabwe Jewish Board of Deputies and one of Zimbabwe Jewry’s most ex...
  • Frieda (Frida) Howe-Ely (1886 - 1969)

This project has been established to explore the Jewish Community in Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi). It is very much in its infancy and any contributions would be very welcome!

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Research 'References: to be further explored.

Encyclopaedia of South Africa - Eric Rosenthal (5th Edition)

Zimbabwe Jewish Community (ZJC) Song of Africa - Isaac Benatar Hometown

[] Central African Jews - Manfred J. Schwartz


Hebrew Congregation past Rabbi's and Ministers

  • Rabbi Joseph Rosin - served from 1918 - 1935
  • Rabbi Maurice Konviser - Salisbury Ashkenazi Rabbi, longest serving 1935-1965
  • Reverend Cantor - cantor
  • Reverend Landy - assistant minister, from 1970
  • Rabbi Dr Manfred Papo - Salisbury Sephardi Rabbi
  • Rabbi Yehuda Shalpid
  • Reverend Philip Kopperman
  • Rabbi Ben Isaacson - joined Bulawayo Congregation in 1991
  • Rabbi Isaac Menashe
  • Reverend Basil Lerer


  • Marco Ahladeff - first Sephardi Jew to establish himself in Salisbury March 1907. Fluent in Shona.
  • Isidor Aberman - of Shabani, went to Livingstone in 1905.
  • Behor David Almeleh - born in Rhodes Island on 15 September 1880 - died in Salisbury 3 February 1979 aged 99 years old. He was schooled in Yeshivot on Rhodes Island, migrated with his brother in law Rahamim Hasson to Rhodesia in 1906. Worked first in African Trade, Umtali thereafter at Penhalonga.
  • Boris Anolick - engineer, technical and production manager at Olivine Industries, owned by Zalman and Harry Margolis and cousin Maurice Horwitz.
  • Leizer Abrahamson - 1899-2006 born Shtetl near Bialystock, Poland. Went first to Bulawayo in 1926 to join his brother Morris.
  • Nick Benatar Born in Beira, Portugese East Africa in 1924. Moved to Belgian Congo, and then to Que Que, Rhodesia. Died 22 September 1991
  • Dr Basil Baldachin - born in Port Elizabeth, spent early life in Bulawayo. Was a distinguished cardiologist and gifted musician, playing the violin and piano. He wrote several articles for the medical press in Zimbabwe, served on the Drugs Control Council and was responsible for the NAMAS (National Association of Medical Aid Societies).
  • Issie Bernstein - with his two sons John and Alan he represented Rhodesia against South Africa in the speed boat racing, all getting their Rhodesian colours.
  • Jacob Banet - born 1899 Kovna, Oeborna - Member of Civil Defence Bulawayo
  • Louis Banet - Born in Kovno, emigrated with mother at age of six. He volunteered for the 1914 war and was sent to German East Africa. Played important part in Jewish Gentile community of Salisbury until his death. President of Shul and Jewish Guild, Zionist Society and British Empire service league.
  • Leonid Birsen - came from Latvia, living in Germany and London before studying the violin in Norway, completing his master's degree under the great Hubay in Budapest. He was member of the Cape Town City orchestra, the SABC and spoke Ndebele, German and Hungarian. He played under Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir Malcolm Sargent, and with virtuoso Isidore Epstein among many others. Birsen taught at the Zimbabwe College of Music and died in Harare at age 90.
  • Phillip Bloom - born 18.2.1882 in Mlawa, a small town 70 miles south of Warsaw, Poland. He emigrated with his parents Simon (Shymer - Polish) and Goldie Bloom to England in 1884. Phillip had three brothers and a sister.
  • Meyer and Freda Brest - were in the transport business for over 50 years before successfully venturing into property in Bulawayo. Tired of the perpetual drought, they moved with their son and three daught to Salisbury in 1944, developing one of the largest property portfolios in the country.
  • Dan and Dora Charney - arrived Bulawayo 1949. Started glass business with brother Max (from Johannesburg). Three children, Myriam, Cyril and Leonard.
  • Harry Cohen - with his father Jacob, started Pioneer Clothing, one of the first clothing factories in Rhodesia. Harry's favourite hobby was fishing. When Jacob left Poland no one could spell the family name Yakabowitz, so, being a true Cohen, he took that name.
  • Henry S. Court - born in Poland 1891, went to Rhodesia 1921.
  • David Cohen - came to Mashonaland from Palestine in 1897, with wife Jenny and baby son Ben. He worked at the Penhalonga Gold Mine where his son Hymie was born in 1909.
  • Marcus and Faiga Grill - Lithuania to Bulawayo circa 1890. []
  • I Hirschler - Mayor of Bulawayo 1897.
  • Professor Michael Gelfand Knighthood of the Order of St Sylvester bestowed upon Michael by the Pope, in recognition of his many years of work among people in the back country connected with the mission stations. Born 26 December 1913 in Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa of immigrant Lithuanian parents, and died 19 July 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe while attending a patient. He was a devout Jew, always wore a 'tzitzit', and was a prolific author of books about the Shona people of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. His book Tropical Medicine was the accepted authority in this field of 30 books, amongst them The Sick African and Livingstone, the Doctor. Joining the then Southern Rhodesian Medical Service in 1939, as Physician, Pathologist and Radiologist, together with Dr Joseph Ritchken, in 1955 he founded the Central African Journal of Medicine. The Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation was established in 1983 in memory of the late Professor Michael Gelfand,OBE, CBE,Knight of the Order of St Sylvester, MD (Cape Town) FRCP, DPH (London) DMR, Hon. LLD (Zimbabwe and Birmingham) Hon. DLitt (Cape Town).

Material contributed by Bernard Unterhalter - July 2004. Zimbabwe Jewish Community newsletter.

  • Bennie Gelfand (1915 - 1991). When WW11 broke Bennie was working in Northern Rhodesia, in 1940 enlisted in South African Army, a member of the 2nd Ack Ack Regiment and was sent to fight with British Forces in East and North Africa. At the fall of Tobruk he was taken prisoner and sent to work in the Salt Mines with other forced labourers. Eventually he was taken to STALAGV11C until liberation in 1945.
  • Dr Isaac Goldberg - a prominent geologist based in KweKwe for many years. Born in Siaulia, Lithuania on 1 February 1925. His father came from Baisogala, Lithuania and mother from Rostov-on-the-Don in Russia. Isaac arrived in South Africa circa 1930 speaking only Yiddish and Russian, and learning Afrikaans. His first exposure to English is when the family moved to Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia 1933. In January 1942 he lied about his age (only 16) and volunteered with South African Forces, and saw action in Middle East, Sicily, Italy, Yugoslavia until December 1945. While at Rhodes University in Grahamstown he became friends with Ian Smith, future Prime Minister of Rhodesia. He completed studies at Rhodes, majoring in Geology, and held a number of positions, Resident Geologist on the Globe & Phoenix Gold Mine; 1950 admitted as Member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in London;awarded his Ph.D in Economic Geology from the University of London;Regional Geologist for Matabeleland; from 1966-1972 he was Chief Geologist for Anglo American Corp. in Salisbury; Chief Mineral Economist for Department of Mines (Minerals Bureau) Johannesburg; Director in charge of the Minerals Bureau and many other posts. Isaac Goldberg was a world expert in gold, copper, nickel, asbestos, coal, diamonds, emeralds, limestone, scheelite, wolframite, columbite, tantalite, iron-ore and manganese. 1980 he completed a novel on emerald smuggling in Rhodesia, the right of which were sold to a film studio in the US.
  • Harold Gollop - born in England in 1916, son of a highly respected Dayan of the London Beth Din, arrived in Salisbury in 1953 and founded legal firm of Gollop and Blank. He was President of the Harare Hebrew Congregation, founding Chairman of the Sharon School Board of Governors ans ember of CAZO's northern regional committee. WasVice=President and President of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. A life long Freemason, he was promoted to officer of the Grand Lodge of England by the Duke of Kent shortly before death in 1993.
  • Musani (Maurice)Hanan
  • Aryey Haimowitz - born Israel 1955, went to Rhodesia and settled in Canada.
  • Samuel Hayman - first president of the new Jewish Congregation in Salisbury, 1895.
  • James and Pita Kapnek - James helped start the University of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with a gift of 20,000 pounds. He himself did not finish junior school. A Roumanian Jew, he was taken to Philadelphia as a small child, and moved to Africa at age 19. He was the largest tobacco grower in Africa, James and Pita were presented to the Queen Mother in 1953 at the laying of the University Foundation Stone.
  • Rhoda and Vivian Keet
  • Herman Aaron Krikler OBE - arrived in Rhodesia in 1914. Served with Murray's Column in South West and East Africa. Married Rose Harris, daughter of Polly and Sam Harris.
  • Leon Hanan - born Rhodes Island 1920. Assistant Gabbai of Sephardi Hebrew Congregation of Zimbabwe.
  • Barney Katz - moved from Riga in 1936 to Gwanda, to Bulawayo where he served more than 33 years as CAZO general secretary. He died in 1994.
  • John Landau - former chairman on Mashonaland Wholesalers Assocation. Became active in the country's politics before and after Independence, when appointed Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, and Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, serving for a record 16 years.
  • Bill Margolis - contributed to the economic growth of the country in the fields of grain and cotton marketing. His achievements were recognised when he received an OBE.
  • Isaac Lasovsky - born in Rietevas, Lithuania in 1888 - died 1961 in Salisbury, Rhodesia. One of the founders of the Rhodesian Zionist Council, he was deeply involved in Jewsh affairs. During the war he worked tirelessly for the National War Fund, the Red Cross and the Services Club.
  • Abraham Levenstein - born in Bialsk, Kurland. Went to England as a ship's stoker, and made it to Cape Town. From then it was a long trek to Kimberley. In 1905 he walked from Kimberly to Bulawayo. He set up a store at Shangara, outside Lusaka, where he met and married Esther Leon.
  • Behor Samuel Leon MBE - Born 2 November 1889, went to Rhodesia 1908.
  • Zelman and Harry Margolis - started a grain business in the Mrowa district early in the century and farmed cattle.
  • Joe van Praagh - Mayor of Salisbury 1900
  • Michael Welensky - First President of Gwelo Hebrew Congregation c 1897
  • Kollenberg family - Bulawayo
  • Jacob (Jack) Goldberg who ran the Grand Hotel, Salisbury 1905.
  • Samuel Goldreich - born in East Prussia 1862, the son of a Rabbi. He played a leading role in the Rhodesian Jewish Community and pioneered Zionism in Salisbury. Responsible for developing the Goldreich Buildings in Joubert Street, housing the original post office.
  • Solly Levin - Trixie mine.
  • H Lezard - Mayor of Salisbury 1916.
  • I Aberman - Shabani 1930's
  • Maurice Kaplan - married Pearl Kopman. When their children were small, Pearl entertained them with stories of her own childhood in Russia, and how her brother Isaac was hidden under the rafters to prevent being taken by the Russian Army.
  • Elias Kopelowitz - President of the Hebrew Congregation, Livingstone c1930's
  • Cessy Harris - Mayor of Bulawayo 1934
  • Jack Fischer - first mayor of Lusaka 1961
  • Dr Joe Ritchken - 1914 - 1978, well known General Practitioner and co-founder with Professor Michael Gelfand of the Central African Journal of Medicine.
  • Perla Rosenthal - second generation Egyptian Jew, an army interpreter, met Judah Lewin when he was in Cairo with the Rhodesian Forces.
  • Shalovsky family - Gela ran a dairy herd and supplied much of Salisbury's butter, cheese and milk, delivered by bicycle.
  • Solly Slomin - came from Lithuania to Bulawayo as a 15 year old in 1908.
  • Simon Zukas - emigrated from Lithuania to Northern Rhodesia in 1936 at the age of 13 years old.
  • H. Mortimer Zeffert - born 1869 and founder of the Rhodesian Jewish Community. In 1896 he took part in the Matabele and Mashonas campaign and served in Dawson's Scouts. On the eve of the Boer War, he joined as a Rhodesian volunteer, soon being promoted to Sergeant. Took part in defense of Elands River and was one of those responsible for the safety of Lord Roberts. A Captain in 1914, he served in South West Africa Campaign and in Egypt in World War 1.

Zimbabwe Jewish Community aims to celebrate over 114 years of Jewish Communities in Zimbabwe and Zambia and help record the history and details of a unique period for the benefit of both current and future generations. Much to explore!

Virtual Jewish Tour of Zimbabwe (Formerly Rhodesia)

Wikipedia History of the Jews in Zimbabwe

Facebook - Zambabwe Jewish Community

Jewish Zimbabwe

International Jewish Cemetery Project - International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies

Encyclopaedia Judaica: Jews in Rhodesia



Jewish Businesses Zimbabwe - Southern Rhodesia

  • Harare

Allied Paper and Processing Toilet Roll - Manfred Schwartz Central African Pharmaceuticals - Jos Schwartz and Partners Arthur Cohen Grocery - Bill Feigenberg Windsor Hotel - Albert Ruda Forman Plumbing and Hardware Merchants Music Salon - Dereck Friend Chemical Manufacturers - Stan Guerlen Paul Gillis, Engineer Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Issy Haimowitz, Bookkeeper Handler and Schrier Cardboard Boxes and fibreboard suitcases Hoffman (Barney) - Attorney Hoffman Water Judge Joelson Bros Plumbing and Hardware merchants Lysaght & Co Engineering Works Boris Kass Timber and Hardware Kaufmans Wholesalers Krikler and Lasovsky Wholesalers Margolis William (Bill) Chairman of the Maize Board Boris Anolik Grain and Milling Odes Toilet Roll Factory Palte Bros Maize Milling Company Pichanic Bros - the Express Nut and Oil Factory Huby Ponter Mattress and Furniture Factory Bernard Ponter Sales Representatives Blooms Furnishers - Leslie and Harry Bloom Pelhams Furnishers - Jack Pelham Robinson and Schwartz Wholesalers Tony Rabinowitz and Son - Sweet Factory Meltzer Tobies Bottle Store Schwartz Agencies - M J Schwartz Dr Sugarman Terry Towel Manufacturers - van den Berg Bros Dr Zlotnik - Dentist Regenstraat Dentist - Dr Hilliard Bamberg Dr Albert Zinn MD Salem Carpets - Joe Salem

  • Marandellas

Raoul Codron General Dealer

  • Odzi

Goldberg Bros Farmers and Hotel

  • Inyazura

Louis Bufferstein - Farmer (South Devon Stud) and Race Horse owner David Bufferstein - Farmer Sholem Buffenstein - tobacco farmer (Farm called Mount Shalom)

  • Bulawayo

Arcade Kaplan and his brother - Outfitters Abe Abrahamson - Member of Parliament Banet and Harris - Furniture Dealers Colin Berman - Manager Economy Stored P. Eagle - Manager Major Harold Ellenbogen - Furniture Fredman Bros - Wholesalers S S Grossberg - Wholesalers Grahame Kady Pharmacist Harris Bros (Standish) - Milling Co Bennie Lobel and Brothers - Biscuit Factory Lobel Bros Bakeries Lobel Delicatessen Leper and Partner S & L (Essanel) - Chocolates and Sweets Plate Glass - Gerald Lubner Posen Radio Rhodesian Paper Barons Sam Rabinowitz and son Clem - Bulawayo Clothing S Rabinowitz Manufacturers Agents Sager Motors Sacks Sweets M & E Solomon Clothing Harry Suhr - Skin and Hide Dealer Sussman Brothers Philip and Harold Radio Assembly Factory

Sussman Ranches in Northern Rhodesia

Meyer Taube Modern Motors (General Motors distributors in Central Africa) A. Zipper - Clothing Zlattner Textile Works

  • Gwelo

Rabinowitz Clothing Shop

The Belgian Congo - Zaire

  • Elizabethville

Amato Freres - merchants, dealers, manufacturers making oil, soaps and by-products from the local crops. Captain Joseph Ellman MC - Chief Railway Engineer after demobilisation, about 1920's. Zeedeberg Bros - Mail Stage Coach contract to service Pietersberg to Bulawayo route, experimented with using Zebras. Issy Haimowitz - (from Rumania) arrived in Beira and WALKED to Ndola, N Rhodesia to Belgian Congo.

  • Additions after 9/6/2003

Nkana-Kitwe VicDiamond General Dealers Kollenberg General Dealers

  • Livinstone

Jack Furmansky - Architect

  • Wankie - during 930's

Gedala Sackstein General Dealers

  • Bullawayo

// this project is in History Link