A new book about the story of Jewish migration from Europe to Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.

An introduction 

  

 

This book is a personal account rather than an academic history. It tells the tales of some of my numerous relatives in order to illustrate many aspects  of Jewish migration from Europe to the South of Africa. Once they were settled in the country, Jews played a disproportionately large role in its development: everything from opening up trade and commerce to fighting apartheid. This is illustrated by their stories, which are related in the context of the history of the surprising country which, in diverse ways, they helped to advance.

At the risk of generalising, the migration of Jews to what is now South Africa can be regarded as showing several patterns. First, at the beginning of the 19th century, Jews from mainly Great Britain and Germany came to the country to trade. Often their intention was to make a fortune and then to retire to Europe. Later, others arrived in South Africa both to trade and also to become professionals, industrialists, and entrepreneurs. Some of these people intended to retire in Europe, but others chose to adopt Africa as their new home. In the last decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th, many Jews from the Russian Empire, in particular from Tsarist Lithuania, arrived in the country as economic migrants. They were also escaping from the risks of becoming involved as victims in the frequent anti-Semitic pogroms that were occurring there at the time. Some decades later, other Jews fled to South Africa to escape from the Nazis in Germany. My book contains stories of my relatives that illustrate all of these and many other characteristics of the movement of Jewish people to South Africa, and what they did after they arrived.

 

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