Photogalleries and/ or stories from descendants:

David Pincus, Great Britain

David's story:

The Kaplan Pincus family connection
By David Pincus

In November 2006, my brothers Alex and George, together with my wife Anne and I, had lunch with Mendel and Jill in London to mark our 10 years of friendship.
The Pincus Kaplan connection began in 1875 when Isaac, my grandfather, married Miriam Kaplan in Shadova. Mirian was the sister of Mendelís great grandfather, Shaya Victor Kaplan.

Brit'h chair used by a Jewish family in Seduva
source David Pincus
I have never met Mendel, and our families only renewed their friendship ten years ago when, during a visit I made to South Africa that, in Mendelís book From Shtetl to Steelmaking, our grandfather, Isaac Pincus, had been mentioned. We visited the Joburg offices of Cape Gate to try and speak to the author. On arriving at Cape Gate, we met Mendel and Milton, who we had last met in the 1940s, as their parents were great friends of our grandparents in Bournemouth, and also my father. My brother and I have fond memories of Miltonís parents. Casey and Sarah, and of frequent visits to their home, where we were treated to sumptuous teas and boiled Ďheggiesí. We also remember that Milton and Maurice were great model airplane enthusiasts.
My South African-born father, Joseph Victor Pincus (Winburg, Freestate), was an active Zionist and the founder of the Judean Central Executive of Cape Province. He left South Africa in 1920 to study medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was president of the Union of Jewish Students. He then returned to Winburg and practised there until 1937, but decided to return to England. He married Ruth in 1939 at the synagogue in Bayonne, France, and practised medicine in Brighton until his untimely death at the age of 47, in 1947. My mother decided to try for a new life in South Africa and so, with my brothers, we left on a Union Castle boat in 1948. Incidentally, Casey Kaplan was at Southampton to wish us a safe journey.
We stayed at Muizenburg with our uncle Louis, the founder of the law firm Pincus, Matz and Feinberg. We then moved to Paarl, where we stayed with the Kesslers; to Bloemfontein, with uncle Nochem and cousins Leon and Ivor Pincus; to Benoni, with Auntie Babs and uncle Agie Genn (cousin of international filmstar of the 40 and 50s, Leo Genn),and with Joe Gratus in Joburg. We had a wonderful time and stayed for nearly a year, but eventually my mother decided it wasnít for us, and we returned to Brighton.

David. Mendel, George, Alex


Since 1996, Mendel and I have met on many occasions in South Africa and in the UK, and we have also visited Shadova and Riteve. During these visits, we have uncovered a wealth of information about our ancestors.

We know that Isaac and Miriam came to South Africa from Sedova in the 1890s, together with other family members. We only recently found out that Miriam had married at age 15, following her motherís death and with no one to look after her. They eventually settled in Winburg, where their children had already established themselves as speculators, jewellers and merchants. One of their sons, Elias, who was my grandfather, owned a large general store and also ran a mineral water factory. Thus he was able to educate his children. My father became a doctor, and my uncles Louis and Sia became lawyers.
Isaacís brother, Kalman, settled in Joburg and became the Chazan in the Wolmarans Street Shul. Interestingly, one of his sons, Aaron, fought with the Boers. He was captured by the British and sent to a prison camp in Bermuda for two years, returning to Clocolan, where he later became mayor. It was Aaronís son, Louis Arye Pincus, who was a past chairman of El Al, and of the Jewish Agency Ė a post also held by Mendel.


Aaron Pincus and family, Clocolan



In 1901, Elias and Isaac deemed to buy a farmstead close to Marquard. They named it Shadova. It is still named Shadova to this day, and is on the local ordinance survey map. We think this is the first time in South African Jewish history that a place has been named after an ancestral town (Shtetl)











Pincus Family Farm

Elias Pincus settled in Winburg in 1901, and had branch establishments at Mushroom Valley and Shadovo. Elias Pincus was agent for the Middleburg Town Collieries.
The Pincus house in Winburg was very large and was the meeting place of the local Jewish community before the synagogue was built in 1922. It was probably in this house that Solly Kaplan was born around 1909, as his parents had recently arrived in Winburg to convalesce. In 1922, Miriam and Isaac were presented with silver candlesticks in recognition of their devotion to the Jewish community of Winburg.

Winburg synagogue sign


On our first visit to Winburg in 1996, together with Mendel, Milton, Leon and his sons, we discovered that the metal insigna, beautifully inscribed with the Ten Commandments, had been lodged for safekeeping with the local attorney, as the shul was closed and the last Jew had left. It was quite by chance in 2000 that, while I was at the opening of the Jewish Museum in Cape Town. I had a call from my friend, Ronnie Furman in Marquard, that the attorney had died and all his possesions, including the metal insigna, had been sold to a local farmer. The farmer had decided to sell some objects as scrap metal, so I immediately left for Winburg, together with Ronnie, we managed to persuade the farmer to let us have the insignia. This is now in the Jewish museum in Bloemfontein.

David and Ronnie with the original Shul sign

We are extremely proud of our connections with South Africa and with the Kaplan family. Although we are only third cousins, we have always been made to feel so much closer and treated as 'one of the family', and for that we thank you all.

Pincus family, Winburg, 1902



Copyright © 2008 Dora Boom

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