Home » Jewish » Arthur’s Road Shul – Digging Up The History

Arthur’s Road Shul – Digging Up The History

Last week I visited the Arthur’s Road Shul in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa.

My previous visit was in November 2012.

Both also included research at the Kaplan Centre, UCT and the Gitlin Library at the Gardens Shul complex.

I have a personal interest in the shul as both my grandfathers, Rev. N M Rabinowitz and Socher Zeldin were present on 28 March 1953 at the signing of the documents establishing the shul in Sea Point.

Furthermore, my late cousin, Phyllis Jowell and her husband Cecil were linked with the restoration of the shul in more recent times.

The Shul Today


Photos from 2012

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The original shul was in Buitenkant Street. Documents from Jewish Library, UCT.

Buitenkant St Buitenkant St Shul 3 Buitenkant St Shul

StitchSCAN0047-SCAN0049 Chabaad group photo SAJC s


Buitenkants St Shul News

Framed photos found in the shul under the ladies’ section.





The shul then moved to Virginia Ave, Vredehoek

Virginia Ave Shul Virginia Ave Shul 2

The official signing on 28 March 1953 – Arthur’s Road, Sea Point.

On the left is my paternal grandfather, Rev. Nachum Mendel Rabinowitz and on the right my maternal grandfather, Socher Zeldin.

Chabad signing 1953

Chabaad Arthur's Road 1953

Framed photo in the shul


100th Anniversary Brochure – article by Philip Goldman

Arthur's Road 100 Anniv 0

Arthur's Road 100 Anniv 1

My interview with Philip Goldman on 22 December 2013



The plaque in memory of Lily Segall, mother of Bubbles and daughter of Israel Kellner.


Bubbles Segall’s grandfather was Israel Kellner.

Her story is “A Must Read”!

Microsoft Word - THE ORIGIN OF MY NAME final version.docx Microsoft Word - THE ORIGIN OF MY NAME final version.docx Microsoft Word - THE ORIGIN OF MY NAME final version.docx Microsoft Word - THE ORIGIN OF MY NAME final version.docx

Bubbles’ parents wedding movie at the Vredehoek Shul in 1946


Photos from Dec 2013

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Just received from my cousin Hannah Bloch in Israel:

Hi Eli,

I shared your picture with grandpa (Zeldin) and close friends of ours, Geoffrey & Abira Breskal posted the following:
Hi Hannah, the Isaac Frank signing the papers is my maternal grandfather. Once they bought the property my grandfather brought all the pews,etc from the shul in Van Rhynsdorp where he owned the shul. He and Kelner were the first Pres and vice pres of the Chabad and Rabbi Gur-ari was the rabbi.
Abira & Geoffrey
The world is so small.  I have been friendly with them since I was 14.
And from Ivan Kapelus’s new book:  From the Baltic To The Cape:
Kapelus 7aKapelus 9a

13 thoughts on “Arthur’s Road Shul – Digging Up The History

  1. Fabulous. This brings back many memories.

    A few comments:

    In the picture which you made bigger, I was wondering whether you noticed Charlie Slivkin sitting two rows behind grandpa? Also Kellner was sitting next to grandpa.

    Also striking was that all the men wore hats. That was a MUST in those days. I remember Dad taking me to buy one (like yesterday) for my bar-mitzvah which by the way was in Jan.1953 (61 years ago in two weeks time…. WOW).

    We used to use Pears soap which was in an oval shape and THE soap of its time.



  2. The shul in Buitenkant street was not the oldest shul nor the oldest minyan in Cape Town as headlined in the article.
    Ofcourse it was the Old Gardens Shul founded in 1863.

    Interestingly enough, Max Rabie later became the President of the Gardens Shul and donated the old succah in 1949 now demolished

  3. Thanks Eli How wonderful to read I always knew of Eddie and Bunty – had no idea of the history Beautiful pic of late Abe and Bertha in the movie Sha X

    Neville Friedman


    • Bertha Segall was my father Eddie Segall’s sister and one of the bridesmaids in the wedding movie.

      Happy New Year!

      Bubbles Segall

  4. Dear Eli

    Your research is impressive.

    Having grown up in CT, my knowledge of the Arthur’s Road shule was that it existed and that it was the Chassidische Shule. That’s all.

    In my family, the Chassidim were frowned on. You may know my father’s famous story about that. It happened in the 1920s, when he was a little boy.

    One Shabbat afternoon he came home to be greeted by his maternal and paternal bobbas, who lived with them. In Yiddish they asked where he had been. When he confessed that he had been to the Chassidische shule, they were extremely angry. They warned him never to go there again!

    This is typical of the attitude of the mitnagdim which is what most Litvaks were. There was a great schism between them and the Chassidim. Let me expand.

    Historically, the Lithuanians were antagonistic towards the few Chassidim who lived in Lithuania. The Vilna Gaon spoke against them and persecuted them. This was because the mainstream or establishment Lithuanian community despised everything Chassidism stood for. The mitnagdim were rationalists and black letter halachists. They had no truck with the “spiritualism” exemplified by the Chassidism. There is quite a good article on the mitnagdim on Wikapedia.

    Cheers Julian.

    Sent from our iPad


  5. This is wonderful. My late Zeidah, Bobbah and my Uncle Eli all Kellners were all very involved in the Shul. It was termed as “our shul” and perhaps in my youth I did not appreciate all that had gone into the building and formation.

    Fond memories of my Zeidah and his friends dancing on the table at Simchat Torah breaking the table but unabated they continued in what state one can only imagine! The chocolates and flags! My brother Saville’s barmitzvah, the baby naming of my eldest daughter Lara, now 39 years old. We lived in Johannesburg and waited to do this in Cape Town.
    Today Iiving in Sydney I have met with Rabbi Michael Gourarie and discovered that his late father was in fact that the Rabbi at Arthur’s road shul.

    On a recent visit to Johannesburg I spent time with his mother the Rebbetzim who had taught my sister and I Hebrew in Oranjezicht. Jewish geography is a wonderful connection and one can only hope that it will be continued with the next generation.

    Merle Finkel Nee Kellner (late Abe Kellner’s daughter)
    Sydney Australia

  6. Hi Eli
    Wonderful story about the shul and from Bubbles Segall!
    My late grandparents, Eli and Toby Grupel lived next door the shul in Merton Mews. They made aliyah in 1955 but but came out for 6mths every year or two and rented Merton Mews or stayed at Mr Derman’s Kosher Hotel, King David around the corner on the Main Road, Sea Point so they could be close to the Arthur’s Road Shul as they were very observant.
    Diana Segall was in Habonim with me and I have a picture of her at a Weekend Seminar at Onrust way back from about 1967 or so.
    My great niece, Kira Moshal celebrated her Batmitzvah at the Arthur’s Road Shul in 2010 which I attended and coincodentally her sister, Rachel is having her Batmitzvah there this weekend!
    Lovely to share stories! I will pass on to my friend, Diane Sendzul in Israel to show her mother, Fay Joffe Sendzul of Kochav Yair, who grew up in Van Rhynsdorp and I am sure she will enjoy Hannah’s story!
    Lesley Reitstein Abelsohn

    • Dear Max

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I have volunteered to do the Perth, Sydney and Melbourne kehilalinks, beside the other new ones of Berlin, and several South African cities. A big project!

      I am waiting for permission from the PHC to start uploading the history of the shul as it appears in the foyer.

      Best regards

      Eli eli@elirab.com

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