Kimberley, South Africa


Mehl (nee Slomowitz), Claire

Claire Mehl, (widow of the late Goldie Mehl) born September 1926 died January 2013 aged 86

Eulogy delivered at her funeral in Kimberley 24 January 2013

Claire Mehl was born Claire Slomowitz to Frank and Molly Slomowitz in Wynberg, Cape Town on the 26th September 1926. She attended Wynberg Girl’s High and then enrolled as a Student at UCT where she met Goldie Mehl.

They were married in 1948 and moved to Kimberley where the Mehl Family had a Hotel Business which they ran together until the late 1980’s.

Five children – Natalie, Sharon, Judith, Mark and Deborah were born of their marriage and the Mehl Family were for many many years the bedrock of Jewish observance in Kimberley. Goldie was President of the Community and Claire was active in all spheres of Community Life.

Her Hebrew name, “Kayla bat Raphael” was immensely significant. It means variously “Crown of Laurels and regal woman”, “Pure and Beloved” and “Keeper of the Keys” and late Claire was the bearer of all these qualities.

Dr Wayne Nates who served this Community as a “Baal Tefillah” in 2001 sent me a message in which he said the following of and concerning Claire :-

“I was uniquely privileged to have spent many a Shabbat evening in the Mehl home and to hear Goldie read the Eishes Chayil in English to Claire from the Singer siddur... and now many years later I can still hear him say in his measured voice the words "Many Women Have Done Worthily .... But THOU Exceedeth Them All" .. and he would look up at her ..... and she accepted that compliment in her usual quiet way..... and I knew that it was true and that she had done worthily indeed......”

She was a woman of strength. Active, practical, a business woman and the director of her household and family, involved in the welfare of all those around her.

In my adult years I was very close to Claire and Goldie and had many discussions with late Goldie over life in general and the roll of women in Judaism and his words to me where always remember “the mother rocks the cradle” and looking at Claire through his eyes I can really see the immense wisdom of that statement.

Coming to Kimberley all those years ago in 1948, a place not known for Orthodox observance, she lit two candles on her first Shabbas in her new home in Kimberley and 65 years later those two candles have expanded to 14 candles in seven different homes in three Cities on three different Continents where the light of inspiration and Judaism flourishes.

This indeed is her greatest legacy – ensuring that the light of Judaic Culture in which she herself was nurtured was passed down and has survived and flourished through two generations where there is not only remembrance but observance too.

We will indeed miss her greatly just as we miss Goldie and as a Community it is indeed an honour for us that they are both buried amongst us.

My condolences to her family and to her friends.

I would also at this point like to thank both the Chevra Kadisha in Cape Town and in Kimberley for the enormous effort made to see that this funeral could take place today within 3 days of Claire’s passing.

Barney Horwitz
Chairman – Griqualand West Hebrew Congregation