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Kadoma (Gatooma) Community
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    ZJC Project Presentation
    In this video Dave Bloom describes in a webinar conference called Community History Online (CHOL) held 11th August 2021, the work done to preserve the story of the ZJC.. Learn More...

    A brief history of the ZJC
    Watch this recording of a presentation given to a Synagogue in Toronto on 1st August 2021 - on the history of the Zimbabwe and Zambian Jewish Communities.. Learn More...

    Geolocation of ZJC homes in Harare and Bulawayo
    A new project has been launched to map the homes of former ZJC homes in Harare and Bulawayo. Please use the link on the page to an online form to add your own details.. Learn More...

    Latest Warren Hills tombstones - 28th June 2021
    See images of the latest Warren Hills tombstones and members of the HHC at the consecration.. Learn More...

    ZJC Reunion 13th June 2021
    Over 300 people registered for the Ndaba and you can see a full recording of the event on this page.. Learn More...

    An African Trading Empire
    Dec 13 2019 - A new page on the site with text from the first chapter of this fascinating book recording the story of the Susman brothers and Wulfsohn who created a farming and commercial empire in Southern Africa.. Learn More...

    Additional Ketuboth added
    December 2016 - ZJC has gratefully received from Colin Gordon some missing Ketuboth from the period 1956-1959 which have now been added to the website. . Learn More...

    Audio Visual biographies
    December 2016 - ZJC is pleased to publish a number of audio visual biographies of former members of the community.. Learn More...

    Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation committees
    July 6, 2016 - We have added two comprehensive documents prepared by David Gelfand and listing a) the numerous committees of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation going back to 1923. b) a list of all the Presidents of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation going back to 1894.. Learn More...

    Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation - full copy
    June 2016 - Pleased to advise that Paul Bernstein has scanned the full Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation Centenary magazine published in 1994. It is now available on the ZJC website. Many many thanks to Paul for all his efforts and contribution in digitizing this material and preserving it for us all. There is a summary of the contents of each section. See the material here.. Learn More...

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    The Kadoma (Gatooma) Jewish Community

    (source: Harare Hebrew Congregation - Centenary Magazine - published 1995)  

    For some unique video footage of the Kadoma Jewish Community - click here

     In the early 1900s Jews began to settle in and around Gatooma (Kadoma), and over the years more families took up residence until by the late 1930s, there were about  25 to 30 families in Gatooma, Eiffel Flats and surrounding districts. No congregation had been formed, but laymen conducted services over the High Festivals in private homes. In 1939, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services were conducted by a recently arrived refugee from Nazi Germany, Mr Robert Stemberg, who worked for Mr B. S. Leon, a prominent businessman. In August, 1944, the Rev. Dr Levin, Minister of the Bulawayo Congregation, addressed a gathering at the Women's Institute resulting in the formation of the Gatooma Hebrew Congregation.


    A provisional committee was set up under the chairmanship of Mr M P Vallentine with Mr Stemberg as honorary secretary. Other committee members were Sam Hasson, Jack Hasson, Solomon Chimowitz and Israel Braude.

    A service to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II was conducted by Mr Stemberg at the Royalty Cinema, owned by Mr Joseph Burke, who also owned the town's only newspaper; and in 1945, the Gatooma Congregation was finally created, the president being Mr Vallentine, secretary Mr Stemberg, and a committee including Messrs M Franco, Ezra Hasson, Jack Hasson and Israel Braude.

    A new Ark was built and services were now being held on all festivals using such venues as the Women's Institute Hall, the old Dutch Reformed church hall and private homes. In January 1948, the late Rev. M Yesorsky of Bulawayo together with the President of the Que Que Hebrew Congregation discussed the necessity for Jewish education and Mr Stemberg started Hebrew lessons.

    In 1950, the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, the Very Rev. Israel Brodie, came to Southern Rhodesia and the municipality gave a civic luncheon at Specks Hotel in his honour. At the reception, the Chief Rabbi appealed for the building of a synagogue and numerous pledges were made.

    The synagogue was consecrated in 1953 with all three Southern Rhodesian Rabbis taking part in the serviceóRabbi Konviser, Rabbi Yesorsky and Rabbi Papo.

    In 1956, the first Jewish Mayoral Service ever held in Gatooma took place when Mr Stemberg became the first Jewish Mayor. Rabbi Konviser conducted the service with the Salisbury Synagogue Choir.


    click on picture below to enlarge


    Mr Joseph Burke, a former Deputy Mayor of Gatooma who had been President of the Congregation since 1950, passed away in 1958. Mr Stemberg was elected president.  Though the Rev. A Ehrman was appointed Minister, the Jewish population in the Midlands towns dropped steadily due to movement to larger centres. It was found impossible to continue with the scheme and Rev. Erhman and his family left Rhodesia eariy in 1956 to return to Israel, In 1967, Mr Monty Spark became President. However, many more members had left Gatooma and district and although services were still being held, attendances dwindled.

    Nevertheless, it was felt that education for the remaining children was of vital importance, and in conjunction with the Que Que community, the services of Mr Freed of Salisbury were obtained in 1970. He visited Gatooma every Sunday.

    In 1970, Mr Peter Stemberg, son of the former President, was elected President and it would appear that he was fated to become the last President of the now virtually defunct Kadoma Hebrew Congregation.

    Mr David Burke, son of Joseph Burke, became Gatooma's second Jewish Mayor in 1972. One of Robert Sternberg's grandsons managed to celebrate his Barmitzvah in Gatooma with an "imported" Minyan in 1979, and this Barmitzvah proved to be the last time that a full Minyan was achieved at the Gatooma Synagogue.

    The first person to lie buried in the Kadoma Jewish Cemetery was one H C Sacke, born 1874 and died in 1910. The last funeral was that of Robert Stemberg who passed away in 1992 at the age of 88. The 28 graves in the cemetery bear witness to the life and death of a once-flourishing Jewish country community which had its heyday from the 1940s to the 1960s.  


    (click here for Kadoma cemetery details



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