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A History of the Jewish Community: The Jews in South Africa by Richard Mendelsohn and Milton Shain

The Jews in South AfricaNew from Jonathan Ball, the revised edition of The Jews in South Africa: An Illustrated History by Richard Mendelsohn and Milton Shain:

Spanning the past two centuries, The Jews in South Africa explores the fascinating role played by this small but highly significant community in the economic, political, social and cultural life of this country.

This richly illustrated story – the first comprehensive history to appear in over 50 years – includes a wide range of historically important photographs, many long unseen, and encompasses a broad swathe of Jewish life, from the bimah and the boardroom to the bowling green. Beginning with the first Jewish immigrants to South Africa, and depicting the fragility of the early foundations and the shifting fortunes of this infant community, the book traces its development to robust maturity amidst turbulent social and political currents. These include the strident antisemitism of the 1930s, the moral dilemmas of the apartheid era, the subsequent turbulent transition towards a non-racial democracy, the birth of the New South Africa and the fresh challenges and promise that have followed in its wake up to the present day.

Included are such personalities as Barney Barnato, Helen Suzman, Joe Slovo, Sol Kerzner and Rabbi Cyril Harris, as well as many others who have made an important mark in their fields.

The Jews in South Africa will be of great interest to every member of the Jewish community living both in South Africa and in their adoptive countries, as well as for all wishing to learn more about this highly energetic and innovative community whose contribution in many spheres of life has so greatly influenced and enriched the history of South Africa.

About the authors

Richard Mendelsohn has taught for many years in the history department at UCT and is a Deputy Dean of its Faculty of Humanities. He is the author of Sammy Marks: ‘The Uncrowned King of the Transvaal’, a biography of the pioneering South African Jewish industrial and mining entrepreneur, and is co-editor, with Milton Shain of Memories, Realities and Dreams: Aspects of the South African Jewish Experience.

Milton Shain teaches modern Jewish history and is director of the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town. He has written several books on South African Jewish history and the history of antisemitism, among them Jewry and Cape Society; The Roots of Antisemitism in South Africa; Antisemitism, and with Sander L Gilman, co-edited Jewries at the Frontier, Accommodation, Identity and Conflict.

Book details