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Oudtshoorn, Western Cape

George WALLIS: Architect



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33°35'06.27" S 22°12'12.59" E Alt: 331m

At first religious ceremonies were held in private houses and in the feather market hall of the town council. By 1886, when the number of Jews was about 250, the decision was made, with the encouragement of Rabbi Orenstein of Cape Town, to build a synagogue.

The Afrikaner boers and the Jews were both deeply religious people and a bond developed between them. Indeed, the Afrikaners were in awe and the minister of the local church said in his sermon: "What a glorious thing it would be to have the children of the Old Testament worshiping in our midst." One of the Afrikaners donated two plots for the synagogue, while another donated the stones and had them brought to the site. Architectural plans were drawn up by the architect George Wallis and approved. The building commenced on 26 January 1888, Rabbi Orenstein laid the foundation stone and by December the synagogue was inaugurated.

In the year of the opening of the synagogue Rabbi Wolfson arrived in the Cape Colony to take up duties in the Transvaal town of Barberton but instead he took up the position of Rabbi in Oudtshoorn, where he served the community for over fifty years from the pulpit of what would be eventually known as the Englische Shul.

(Oudtshoorn - The Jewish Community, submitted by Annelise Lange)

Books that reference Synagogue

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pg 507