- Phlllip Israel Jacobson
Mother ~ Rachel Cecilia
Father came in 1897 - married in Cape Town in 1903. Her brothers
refused to let her come out to this wild so he used to come down
every 6 months to see her in the Freestate
where she lived with
her brothers. Father arrived via Maffeking
and rode on a bicycle
to Salisbury (Fort something). In 1912
mother brought us all up.
I was 5, Lea 8 and Adam was born here. Father
was a carpenter who
used to go out to Shamva and Mt.
Darwin and other places by bicycle
talcing his excellent tools with him and his African assistant.
He used to tell us the tales of one night even sleeping on a tree
because of a lion prowling in the area. Snakes were just like a
spider - so many of them. It was a hard life, no lights,
We lived with a family called
Rubenetain (relatives of the Grahams) who let us rooms at
the back of their home somewhere in Salisbury Street. From there we moved to
Luck Street, then Victoria Street - in the meantime we built a house in Rhodes
Avenue and Salisbury Street where we lived until we moved to the Birchenough
Street house about 30 years ago. If we needed water, mother used
to go to market square with a bucket, collect water. Life was hard,
we had a cold box for food. Had a Rev. Reubens,
he was the teacher,
the shocket, the Rav,
the lot. Used to buy only Kosher meat probably
twice a week. Also bought live chickens from Africans and had them
slaughtered by the shocket. Fruits and vegetables were scarce,
eventually tomatoes sold by Africans in basket to doors. Ate
fruits Mahabohob - big - with big pip and
hard core soft centre,
tastes like a potatoe - Mjongejonje
- round - lots of pips very sweet.
greens. As toilets were outside, most people had potties. Municipality cleaned
the outside toilets every night (same "bucket
affair - hut, seat, bucket that could "be
removed from "back of hut). Wood stove
with geizer to heat water. Bread home baked
every 2 days. Ingredients brought from South Africa and Beira.
We always had chalat and chicken
for Shabbat and used to make our own wine
from grapes imported from South Africa. Mother, who was a
religious woman always used to say that G-d
was looking after us,
as every Shabbos and Yomtov we managed to find the necessary.
Always kept Kosher. We went Girls High School. Harry, the oldest
brother and Adam went boys school. Leah
was an excellent pupil but not I. Other Jewish girls at the time. Tilly Rotstein
was already a senior - but I remember her working already. Jenny Robinson was
with Lea. There was Hilda Pichanik who
eventually married Burke from Gatooma. The Pichanicks
lived across from us and their house faced Rotten Row. There was also Celia
We went to Cheder in the Guild Hall. Taught
by Rev. Levy, Rev.
Rosin, then Konviser. Learned to read.
Three times a week, mostly
on Sunday but the most we learned was from my mother. Lea learned
Hebrew privately and wrote Hebrew for Matric.
Pity she couldn't
go to University as my father died early at the age of 52. According
to documents 57. There were about 10 children in the class, boys
and girls together of all ages. Shul -
every Saturday morning -
father went to all services. Twice a year we got new dresses and
new shoes - in spite of us being quite poor. We grew a bit, father
joined the public works Dept. of
Government. He died in 1927.
That night Lea and I were having a musical evening, Lea played violin,
I played the piano. Father went to sleep that night and never got
up. He was always full of Malaria and black water fever from the
days of his country work (he
used to build trading shops etc.)
He looked after his tools like they were jewels. He died with
2 shillings in his pocket. He was never insured and never left
a will. But our house was fully paid. My mother kept the 2s
till 1952 when Lea and I went on the last Zionist Youth tour to
Palestine with 6 other young people from South Africa. I took
these 2s and I put them into the charity box of Rachel Tomb. I
took a job after father died. Lea married in 1928. Earned £6.00
a month. Learn while you earn - got a job for garage and then for
Secil, then moved to work for government
till long after I
got married, and because of the war, gov eminent
needed my services
and I continued until Fhillip was born. But
having married an alien,
I became an alien and my job became temporary staff and salary
(F.ichael came 1958 - married 1941). H.M.
Gallante offered a Job to
Michael when he was not allowed to stay in South Africa and he came
up to work at Crown Clothing - as supervisor at African boys.
Originally he went to Kovna 'Varsity
to study medicine, but his
father insisted that he should leave Europe and go to South Africa
because of the rise of the Nazies, where he
was to try to earn money
and send for his parents. Two brothers in South Africa. When we
got married we opened up our own clothing factory, by which time he
learned quite a lot - made (Kapedulas)
khaki uniforms for
labourers. We were always interested in Zionism. Before there was
anything like a blue box, my mother had a charity box into which
donations were put every Friday and festivals - mostly it was for
the I'isKin orphanage in Jerusalem and the Meshulachin
used to come
to collect every so often. We also had a
very open house and offered
meals to whoever came. We lived on what I earned. When sanitation
compulsory, the Joelson "boys
who were plumbers, took
private work. We couldn't afford it and the
the necessary for us for which we paid in installments. It took
us 5 years to pay it off. It was added to our electricity account.
When we lived in Pioneer Street we had
paraffin lamps. After we
moved to Victoria Street we had lights probably
in 1914 (our second
We had a Jewish guild society as soon
as the Shul and Guild Hall
was built. They had a youngish group - plays, concert, etc.
Zionist acitivities started after Vera
Weizman came. I went to
hear her. Lea also went and became the first secretary and remained
on this committee until she died in ———-.
she was chairlady,
President, Life President. She never gave up once. This was her
Lea married in 1928. Conrad came
holiday from Beira where he was working in
the offices of a large
shipping company. He held a high position. The late Abe Robinson
(Jenny's husband) introduced them. Lea was always friendly with
Jenny - they were inseparable. Conrad went back to Beira and returned
to Salisbury to settle. Even in Beira Conrad used to entertain all
the important Jewish personalities that came from England and
Israel. He once changed his whole kitchen because he was to enter-
tain an important Jewish lady who would eat only in a Kosher home.
(Mrs. Kirsch caused it). Conrad was born in
Lithuanea, came to
Johannesburg as a small child then moved to Beira. When he came to
Salisbury, got married went on honeymoon to Europe for six months
where she bought quite a collection of beautiful marble statuettes,
Venetian glass, etc. They opened a wholesale.
But then during the depression went mechula.
Lea sold all -these beautiful things. From
then Lea said - no more expensive things and "bought
only African made furniture for her flat. Zionist work - there wasn't one
famous person that came to this country that they didn't
entertain and take on tours by them. Mostly
they used to go to see
the Mazoe citrue
estates as Israel was growing citrus. Baratz
from Degania - founder of Degania.
We all went out to Mazoe with
him. It is indeed amazing that this tiny place of Rhodesia
these famous people coming here. (through South Africa). When
Lea was president they brought quite a number of well known musicians
from Israel for fund raising campaigns. Adier,
once a year. The response of the Jewish population was very good.
The meetings used to take place in the Sephardi
Hall in Jameson
Avenue. A very big hall. Lea went to Palestine for holiday in
1950. Our Zionist Youth tour in 1952 - Cape Town East coast by boat
to Mediterranean - Port Said to Ankara, then by ferry and back,
return trip to Beira. Travelled tourist
class. One of the girls
was a good singer and they sang on board ship and 1st class
passengers used to stand and peer in through the windows. Sing
song every night. Toured Israel. Kantara to
Jaffa by boat. Visited
many Kibbutzim - Degania, The Hula Valley which was just a swamp
with grass of four feet high. The workers used to live in those
round water tanks. Palestine left a wonderful impression upon us.
Stopped a man in Jerusalem for instructions
to get to the bank -
said if you come to Palestine you must learn the language. Beratz
taught us "Around der
Fire" for sing songs on the Kibbutz. They
all asked us to stay. But I could not as I had left my mother at
home. Have been in Israel 5 times since on tours (after
the war) -
even had a photo taken with Ben Gurion.
During the war Conrad and
Lea decided to go to Israel
to settle. They sold everything here
and left. Unfortunately he met the wrong people, didn't under-
stand the language and they took him for a
ride and he lost every-
thing. My mother at the time was already very ill - so they
decided to come hack. Lost a fortune there.
He bought stands
and sold hut kept 2, one for Lea and one for me. We have paid
taxes all the years hut it's of no value to us as it is agricultural
land and we can do nothing with it. Many Israelis came and sold
land to Rhodesians, some on roads, some in
the sea, but everybody
bought at the time - quite a disappointment as people thought they
were securing their future. Conrad did so much for the Jewish
community here but one won't find his name anywhere. He was the
founder of the Hebrew Nursery School. He interviewed Lea Mailowitz,
first Hebrew Nursery teacher from Johannesburg. The first Hebrew
School was the Salman Margolis
Nursery School in Second Street. Margolis
£5000 for it. But Conrad's name was never mentioned - 19—
Conrad used to give money from bis own pocket for prizes at the
school as he was very keen on Jewish Hebrew education.
invariably won. He presented books and did a great
deal for Jewish education. He was Chairman of the Board for a few
years and President of the Hebrew
Congregation and when he resigned
congregation owed no money. Here too, he never got any recognition
for his work. After my mother died we asked what we could donate
to the Shul in her name and Late Rev. Konvi-ser
suggested a Ner Tamid.
I went to Johannesburg, chose one and brought it back. It was hung
in the old Shul. When they built the new Shul they needed this
and couldn't find it. Mr. Baeck approached
me and asked'if I
would be prepared to donate another one which I agreed to do. But
in the meantime, the original one was found.
When the new Shul
was consecrated, Emmy Kaplan
was seven. The honour to put on the
lights, being the oldest member of the
congregation. Then different
members were called up to walk around with the Tora
- but my
husband, who gave money, was just ignored. I walked out of the
Shul with tears pouring down my face and went and helped with the
tea. Afterwards we got a letter of apology but it was by then too
late. When they laid the foundation to the new Shul, Conrad, who
did so much for the Shul and was not alive
anymore. Committee did
not find it necessary to invite Leah to sit
with the dignitaries.
All these little things added to our bitterness. For years they
had the chair of which I was a member, I sang solo, and when they
opened the hall, they had a sundowner and a dance. Everybody was
invited except for the three of us. The choir master
- Eric Brod
and Hymie Cohen.
gave time and talent,
even when we were sick we got up to sing for
choir when necessary. Conrad interviewed A. Hatchuel
as Headmistress of the Hebrew School in 1955 for 1956 while he was
and indeed an excellent chairman and person he was, most
every aspect. When they put the plaques in the new Shul I app-
the Chairman, Benny Sacks with an offer to pay for a plaque
with his name but it was accepted and
never done. Conrad had his
way which rubbed people a bit wrongly, expecting from them more than
they gave when he knew that they could. Of course they didn't like
it. All the papers and books existing during his chairmanship
have been destroyed. Hence there is no record of his activities.
Israel was his and my sister's baby. They
both did and donated as
much as they could. Conrad was an enthusiastic Zionist from Beira
days. Increased his Zionist activities when he moved to Salisbury
Chairman and was often
to be Chairman. Leah was
life President of WIZO and a good speaker
who knew her subject
well. He was well read but not a public speaker - a philosopher
in his own right. Mother died in 1952 and always lived with me.
brother Adam Leslie - the baby was the baby of the family.
Worked for the Herald for a while then left to Johannesburg. Did
art went to London. Was
a satirist - acted in his own plays.
Wrote a number of songs which were printed. Together with a friend,
Eve, they wrote a musical and called it
Adam & Eve (Eve the
Married Jady Gluckman
- worked together. Brought up
to Salisbury - 2 is company - did a lot of
theatre work in
Johannesburg where he opened a theatre and
became very well known.
Died young. At the moment one room in a theatre
being built in
to be named Adam Leslie,
A very likable person with a
wonderful name in South Africa.
Michael has always been interested in Zionism (Lithuania/S/A).
When was able to bring his family from Europe it was too late. At
on a tour, the tour master asked Michael to go down to
say Kadish. Everybody wanted to know why
him. The tour master,
whose name was also Gordon said - "I know what I am doing." Michael
could hardly say Kaddish with a lump in his
throat. Michael has a
brother in Jerusalem - Rabbi Meir Gordon -
retired. Also a
brother in London. Phillip - son, Hadassah
- academically minded -
today the Director of Hematology Department
of Alberta University
in Canada - a professor - outstanding name. Will do everything for
everyone. Studied at Groote-Schuur, did housemanship
Married - studied in Birmingham MRCP. Tessa
wife doctor in
and works in Alberta. He takes interest in Jewish
affairs and offers his services to children's Jewish camps.
Hadassah married to Edwin Levin Radiologist
in Cape Town - have
three children - eldest 16 - None have done
Zionist work except
donations. As children "belonged to Habonim.
Both were madrichim.
Hadassah was the only white girl who to her Shtilim
to an African
school in Domboshawa. The headmaster
couldn't get over it as they
were the only group that showed any interest in them.
My mother was very orthodox and kind hearted. Jewish festivals she
used to leave the house at 7.50 a.m. - sat in last row with 2 ladies
on either side of her - Mrs. Rotstein and
Mrs. Katy Cohen
and Lilly's mother). Neither could read
Hebrew. My mother used to
read prayers out loud and both ladies used to repeat after her,
This went on every Yomtov for years. As my
mother kept a Kosher
home everybody who came to Salisbury to lecture or whatever, would
come to us for meals. Rabbi Schwartz who
stayed with Mrs. Passov -
came to us for meals. Mr. Shane
too, ate with us (from Israel).
My father always brought strangers from Shul
for Friday night meals.
Benevolent society - automatic with congregation membership. Lent
money and donations to the needy.