Kimberley, South Africa


Kimberley ExPats Newsletter no 15

January 2018


Youth activity in Kimberley – Piecing it together  


For this Newsletter I am piecing together the wonderful memories and photos sent in by those involved, one way or another, in Jewish youth activities. We can see that organised activity for young Jewish people flourished in Kimberley with or without formal identification with a particular Youth Movement, certainly from the early 50s to the early 60s. 


The earliest youth picture we have discovered is from 1948-50. There was no obvious Movement uniform or identification, but there seems to have been activity for little ones aged about 8 to 10. The boys are wearing their CBC or Boys High caps. Anna Cvi, who sent this great picture, says this group was coordinated by her older sister Rina (right) helped by Mavis Shein (behind). The photo below might have been taken in 1949. In it we can see:



Mavis Shein, left and Rina Cvi on the right and children in front of the Minor Hall (before the new Communal Hall and Cheder classrooms were built, in the space to the left of the picture)  

Back row: Arnold Rauff, Bernard Frank, Bernard Benjamin, Milton Friedman, Eric Gershowitz

Middle Row:  Marshal Hotz? Gerald David.  Trevor Toube? Lorraine Brown, Ivor Brown?, Naomi Raichman, #

Front Row: Anita Kaplan, Hannah Lurie, Anna Cvi, Marcia Frank, Maureen Kroll (picture from Anna Cvi) 


Anna writes in January 2018, (Rina, my sister) was the stand-alone leader. Unfortunately, she was killed in a car accident in 1972 in Vanderbijlpark (Tvl) where she lived. Mavis emigrated to Israel and passed away a few years ago. I always used to visit her on my trips to Israel. (Can anyone identify or confirm the names in the picture)




This seems to be the timeline of youth activity in the 50s and 60s:


1948 – 50 No Movement identification youth activity for small children coordinated by Mavis Shein and Rina Cvi

1953 – 54 Leslie Stein, with Maureen Kroll and Sarah Cohen coordinated independent activity – meetings, parties, dances etc for teenagers and ran Bnei Zion for the little ones.

1954 – 56 the transition from Bnei Zion to Habonim: Sheila Frank (Grant), Anna Cvi (Teper), Geraldine Kretzmar (Auerbach) and Norma Levinsohn (Friedman) all ran groups behind the shul and went to Habonim camp at Leaches Bay (near East London) 

1957 – 59 Vicky Capon (Weinberg) took Hashtilim Sunday mornings and Eric Gershowitz

Habonim or Shomrim, Sunday nights  

1959 – 60 Valerie Stein we believe ran Habonim

1961 – 63 Leon Chonin became Rosh Madrich Habonim, and went to Machaneh at Leaches Bay 

1964 – 65 Pamela Hotz took over and ran Habonim. Was that the end of the line?  



1953 – 54 Bnei Zion Leslie Stein, Maureen Kroll and Sarah Cohen (Goodman)  


This picture that Leon sent, and thought was Habonim in 1958, was later realised to be Bnei Zion in 1953.  Delia identified the Madrich on the right as her cousin Leslie Stein, and the Madrichot on the left at the back are surely Maureen Kroll and Sarah Cohen. Leslie confirmed that the epaulets on his shirt and the boys’ caps, were Bnei Zion uniform, as Habonim had no epaulets and wore berets. Leon Chonin front right was born in ‘45 so it’s right as he looks about 8 rather than 13! The girls at the front are probably Gill and Brenda Garsh. Beverley (Buirski) recognises herself and sister Lynette in there with the boys, who include Jock Awerbuck, Stanley Eberlin and Leonard Hammer. 


They were lining up, Leslie remembered, as a guard of honour, to welcome some civic dignitary – probably the Mayor, at the time Gussie Haberfeld, who was also a community leader. He was probably coming to officially open the newly built Communal Hall and cheder classrooms. (the original ‘Minor Hall’ in view behind).


(As I write in January 2018, Leon is a financial analyst in Toronto, Leslie is a retired professor of economics in Sydney, Maureen, sadly deceased, lived in Chicago with her Dr husband and Sarah is happy with husband Jack on Moshav Neve Ilan, Israel). (Sarah’s article about her Aliyah is here


Apart from Sunday morning sessions for the younger children, from 1953, the teenagers had ‘Meetings’ on a Friday evening. Leslie Stein says they were not affiliated to any movement but organised by the teenagers themselves and that he and Sarah and Maureen devised the programmes. Anna Cvi remembers these meetings were held at the shul hall. Some were in participants houses. Parents would drop them off or they would walk as many lived near the shul.


These are the people that Leslie remembers that attended the Friday evening sessions on a regular basis – and where they are now – if known: ‘There was Barbara Dave (deceased, lived in Johannesburg), Maureen Kroll (deceased, lived in Chicago) Anna Cvi, (now Teper, lives in Toronto) Fay Goldberg (lives in Israel), Sarah Cohen (now Goodman, lives in Israel), Marcia Frank (now Collins, lives in London) Geraldine Kretzmar (now Auerbach, lives in London), (I could not remember attending the meetings, but recently found my teenage diaries that mention that I did indeed go ‘our meeting)’ Norma Levinsohn, who married Milton Friedman (they now live in Los Angeles), Ephraim Pick (Cape Town, deceased) Bernard Frank (Cape Town, deceased) Eric Gershowitz (deceased lived in Kimberley then Cape Town) Bernard Melunsky (lives in London), Trevor Sussman, (whom I reported in my diaries as being quite a catalyst to warming up relations between the girls and boys is in Canada) Anita Kaplan and Leslie himself (Sydney Australia). (If anyone is omitted, please tell us).


Leslie remembers that Norman Friedman was one of the Bnei Zion leaders but being at boarding school, he was unable to join the teenagers on a Friday night. (Boarders had to choose between shul on Saturday or meeting on Friday and he chose shul –  hence I note in my diaries that I, and several girls attended shul quite regularly).  Sheila Frank was living in Vryburg in 1953, but on visits to Kimberley attended the meetings and parties.


Leslie says in his article that in addition to our Friday night meetings, on Saturday nights we all either partied at someone’s house, dancing to music emanating from Bakelite gramophone records or went en masse to the cinema. Staring among our dancers was Bernard Frank who had a natural bent in that area. On the Sunday afternoons, some of us would meet in someones garden, often at Barbara Dave’s home, talking and lying on her front lawn. All these occasions were spontaneous ones. No specific invitations were issued. 


Norma Levinsohn sent this picture of the girls in someone’s garden, Fay Goldberg in front, and at the back, Norma, Marcia, Sarah, Barbara, Maureen.


You can read Leslie’s and Leon’s articles on Youth Activities on the website here: (You can also read on Leslie’s ‘Family’ page on the website about his adventures as a communist and political activist after he left school to eventually become a professor of Economics in Sydney and the author of many books.)  


Norma Levinsohn, Sarah Cohen, Sheila Frank, on the beach somewhere, December 54? (This lovely photo kindly sent by Norma)


I turned 13 at the beginning of 1953. I was in the second year at Girls High School. The Jewish girls in our class were Anna Cvi, Bernice Kaplan, Naomi Raichman, Sheila Frank and my special friend Norma Levinsohn who lived directly across the back lane in Milner Street. (Their names were usually amongst the top three achievers in class.) We seemed to love school and most of our teachers. We tried to find out their first names and teased them a lot. I particularly wrote about ‘drilling’ and biology which were my favourite lessons. 


Having recently discovered my diary of 1953, I have found some direct insights into the teenage life in Kimberley – as written about by Leslie Stein on the website. We were lucky to have a real Jewish ‘crowd’ and to have both organised and spontaneous activity that brought the boys and girls together in a soft and easy transition from childhood to adulthood. Apart from our classmates, our crowd included the few girls in the classes above us – who did not have a crowd or their own: Sarah Cohen, Barbara Dave, Fay Goldberg, Beryl Ben and Maureen Kroll. There was a very nice group of boys at that time, about two or three years older than we were. As Leslie says: ‘Compared with our Jewish counterparts in the big cities, we were natural, unpretentious, without any airs and with not a Jewish princess in sight.’ 


The first entry I have regarding the ‘meetings’ that Leslie Stein referred to, was on Friday 8 May

1953.  It says that it was Milton’s birthday, and I wrote Trevor Sussman joined our Society. When we went for a braaivleis, he told us lots of dirty jokes and made the boys much more informal and natural with the girls (created a terrific atmosphere)’. I mentioned a Meeting on 15 May – but no details. On Sat 16 May there was a ‘dance’ and I wrote that I was the only one without stockings – but didn’t care – much! I said I would have them by the next time.


There was a meeting on Friday 22 May and I reported that on Saturday 23 May, ‘Barbara got cased to Norman’ who was a handsome Boys High boarder who could not attend our Friday meetings, but was allowed out on a Saturday to shul and after. The diary says: on Friday 29 May, ‘there was a meeting and that everyone went to town afterwards and came back late.’ Does that mean, I wonder, that we kids were walking from the shul to town and back home late at night?  Rather an alarming thought. What did we do in town I wonder? Maybe we went for a milkshake at the ‘Milk Bar’? 


I did not mention anything about the meeting content, but remarked that ‘Since Trevor joined our crowd, it has come to something, and the boys have mixed with the girls. He is a nice chap.’ I reported that the state of play was now as follows:

       Babs is going steady with Norman

       Maureen is going steady with Leslie

       Sarah is nearly going steady with Trevor

       Norma wants Milton – but he is cased to Ada in Brakpan!


At the parties the boys I danced with were Leslie Stein, Milton Friedman, Effie Pick, my brother Theo Kretzmar, Eric Gershowitz, Bernard Frank and Michael Sperber. On 31st July 1953, I said that we had a Meeting at Naomi’s house. Archie Sandler spoke about the bible and how even we Jews, really knew next to nothing about all the interesting and sometimes alarming stories in it. (I went home and resolved to start reading the bible – which I did but not sure how far I got.)


On Saturday 8th August I said that we had a Meeting at Anna’s house in town. I mentioned that I had compiled a news bulletin (so, what’s new then?). I wrote that no one seemed particularly interested in cultural news, so, I had made it of local news. And there was dancing from 9.00pm onwards. The next day we all went on a picnic at Riverton. I said that we took two rugs – and brought back at least 4 pieces of rug. Probably needed this to protect us from the dubbletjies (or duiveltjies) and ants that were so prevalent.


Left to right at a picnic at Riverton : Norman Friedman, Milton Friedman, Norma Levinsohn, Marcia Frank, Hannah Lurie, Sarah Cohen, Geraldine Kretzmar, Maureen Kroll and Barbara Dave. I cant remember who the boys on the right are.  The girls are on the boat below.



The crowd often descended on our house to hang out, play ping pong and for swimming in the afternoons. We had a pool in our back garden. It was more like a farm dam, a square built-up thing, but very welcome in the Kimberley summer heat. Sometimes the girls and boys even came for a midnight swim after a meeting or party and going to town and back – such was the heat in Kimberley.


On 24 October, I said we had has a braaivleis for our meeting that I said was very well organised, just Theo and Trevor doing the braai-ing with Milton as an accessory, and that everyone who belonged attended. By November we were going to town in cars. Theo and one or two others had their licences. I mentioned, on 8 November, that the boys had taken to playing klaberjas for money – to buy smokes. I said it was ‘the fault of us girls for letting them smoke and now they can’t get out of the habit.’ 


On 9th November I was excited to write that ‘there is to be a Youth Jewish Dance on 10 December.’ We were all dying to go and wondering who might ask us. This is probably the event that Leslie said the youth themselves had organised, all on their own. On 10 December, the day we broke up for the summer holidays, I reported in my diary: ‘Tonight we had a ‘Flannel Dance’ in the Communal Hall, for the whole community adult and youth. The best band in town, the Astorians played, and everyone had a great time. We did not go in partners, but all together as a Crowd’. In our ‘party’, there were also some older boys and girls such as Ivor Haberfeld, Tony Isaacs, Brian Benson and Jean Ginsberg. This was a memorable event and a great success. We all danced with everyone – especially in the Paul Jones’s including our parents, aunts and uncles. I remarked that Effie looked ‘too terrific with a pinkish tie’. 


Here, below, is a lovely picture that Anna sent of the Matric Farewell Dance in 1954 with many of the girls and boys that have been mentioned.  


Left to right:  Milton Friedman with Norma Levinsohn, Eric Gershowitz with Geraldine Kretzmar, Trevor Sussman withSarah Cohan, Rufus Elvi with Anna Cvi, Basil Levine with Barbara Dave, Bernard Frank with Maureen Kroll, Bobby Benn and Anita Kaplan. 


I have been wondering where Trevor Sussman, who was such a catalyst in the group, had suddenly arrived from. He was not part of the Kimberley Sussman families. Recently, I   discovered through a death notice for his elder brother Julian on the Kimberley shul facebook page, that they were the sons of George Sussman of Jankempdorp (originally Border and then Andalusia). Cecil Sussman says they were no relation to the Kimberley Sussmans). It said that Julian and his late wife Tehila, who had died a few years ago, had lived and worked in the family business in Andalusia for many years, before retiring to Johannesburg when their shop burnt down. Julian was a police reservist and was very involved in the Masonic Organisation and was the past District Grand Master of the South African Central Division English Constitution of the Masonic Fraternity. Julian is survived by his brother Trevor in Canada and sisters Betty Forer who lives in Australia and Diane Broomberg in the USA as well as his son Dr Norman Sussman in Houston and his daughter Beverley Sussman who lives in Johannesburg. Julian was in his very late eighties when he died.  I am not sure where Trevor lived in Kimberley, and don’t remember any of his siblings being there – does anyone? I wonder if anyone knows where he is in Canada? 


What has become clear to me in looking in to our youth activity, is that the exciting events and the atmosphere in which they took place, were not created by the Kimberley people themselves, but by outsiders. Both Trevor Sussman and Leslie Stein were not born and bred in Kimberley – but arrived there in their teenage years and became the catalysts for great things to happen. This is often the case. (I have always said that I couldn’t have done what I did in England, eg creating the Jewish Music Festivals and the Jewish Music Institute which is now based at London University, had I been born and bred in London. It’s because I was not bound by its internal politics and customs that I could cut straight through and get things going – and supported by locals who would never have though it possible – and often said so.) 


Norma sent this picture below of a Jewish community dance. Was this the ‘Flannel Dance’ of 1953

– or more likely a community Yom Kippur dance of a year or two later – inspired by Leslie’s example? Who knows? In it we can see:


Left to right: Theo Kretzmar, Sheila Frank, Marcia Frank, Eugene Someone (or Michael Brauer), Brian Benson, Barbara Dave, Basil Levine (also an outsider), Sarah Cohen, Norman Friedman, Geraldine Kretzmar, Trevor Sussman, Hannah Lurie, Norma Levinsohn, Milton Friedman. 



1954 – 56 the transition from Bnei Zion to Habonim:


Sheila Frank (Grant)– Anna Cvi (Teper), Geraldine Kretzmar (Auerbach) Norma Levinsohn (Friedman) Eric Gershowitz and Milton Friedman 


While we were having fun as teenagers, we seem to have made some activity for the younger children as well.  In this picture below from 1953 or 54, in the shul grounds, sent by Anna Cvi, Anna clearly is in charge but the children are not in any uniform so no ‘movement can yet be determined: 


Back row: Ralene Jacobson, Rochelle (Shelley) Hotz, Pearly Goldenbaum, Sandra Diamond

Front Row:  Delia Brown, Jose Shapiro, Brenda Frank, Pamela Hotz


I (Geraldine) remember that in winter 1955, when I was 15 and a half, Habonim started in Kimberley. We were visited by a few older teens from Johannesburg including Wolfie Sher and Lesley Targowsky, instructed in the ideology, shown the ropes and given the regalia. 


In Leon Chonin’s excellent article about Habonim in Kimberley – in the early 60s and he wondered what had happened before his time. So, here is some information:


Norma has also found some wonderful pictures, despite at least seven moves, some across continents, since they were taken and carefully placed in albums. She sent this picture below, of the actual transition where a Johannesburg group came to Kimberley to meet with us, also at the back of the shul, against the self-same wall, as the picture above, to hand on the baton, as it were.  We are now all sporting our brand new Habonim uniforms.  




Here on the left you can see the three people from Johannesburg, including 2nd from left Jossie Fabian (Nee Aaron) and Lesley Targowsky (third from left), followed probably by Eric Gershowitz, Anna Cvi, Sarah Cohen, me Geraldine Auerbach and Milton Friedman. Norma must have taken the photograph as she was certainly one of the group.  


Norma and I became a Shtilim Madrichot – maybe so did the others. I believe I remember taking the girls group, at the back of the shul and Norma took the little boys group probably in the front under the palm trees. We all wore uniforms like scouts and guides. The head girls of my two lines were Delia Brown and Jose Shapiro. Beverley Buirski (Solsky) remembers Cheryl and Delia Brown, Pearly Goldenbaum and Shelley & Pam Hotz. She says that is where she and her sister Lynette learned the song “We are members of Habonim …….”  

Norma and I went to Camp at Leaches Bay in December 55 and again in December 56 as

Shtilim Madrichot. Anna Cvi who went as a shomer in 1955 was also roped in to be a Shtilim Madricha. Anna has carefully saved and sent some great pictures. We were all in charge of canvas bell tents of 6 ten-year-olds. (We had a deluge each time – that must be why they moved to the Cape where it does not rain in summer.)  Anna writes to me in January 2018, ‘I have many fine memories from that 55 camp – particularly the Madrichim singing "Negro Spirituals" on the beach, after we finally got our charges to sleep’. (I wrote about this in my diary too). There was the walk under the bushes and then sitting in a circle on the white sand with a lantern lighting up our faces and the dark sky beyond, and the sound of the lapping waves. Anna also remembers the night patrol circuit – somewhat scary, and the many enjoyable activities. she said ‘NB, the toilet facilities left much to be desired. And, it was many years before I could stomach Pilchards again!  The hard, bumpy ground for our ground sheet, is probably the cause of my present back issues!!’  

Sheila Frank (Grant) says also in January 2018, ‘I also had a short stint as a Madricha in Bnei Zion and/or Habonim in Kimberley and went to Habonim camp at Nahoon – or was it Leaches Bay, as a Madricha in charge of a tent of about six ten-year-olds, who were all terribly homesick. (This was Habonim Sheila at Leaches Bay in December 1956 – as evidenced by the picture you sent.) Sheila says: I remember that it rained a lot, and we had to dig trenches round the tents, but I loved every minute. 

Above, we see the terrain and canvas bell-tents behind Anna with her 6 charges, on a sunny day in December 1955

Sheila says: Now my 15-year-old grand-daughter goes to Habonim camp at Onrus, near Hermanus and last December my daughter-in-law also went to the camp as Camp Psychologist.

Below: Anna on her bedroll outside the tent.  She says: I had gone as a Shomer but they needed another Madricha to be a Photo Shtillot leader – and that was me!!  

I wrote in my diary in my teenage years that Habonim Camp was a wonderful experience, meeting such great people from all over the country and showing that there was more to life and to being Jewish than makeup and parties. (And I married the Head of Shtilim entertainment in the 1956 camp, Ronnie Auerbach in 1962. And he still makes me laugh – in 2018).    


Even though Aliyah was an ultimate aim of Habonim, it was not insisted upon, but it certainly acted to instil in those who participated a strong Jewish identity, and promote good human values of simplicity, equality and sincerity.


Sheila joined us for Camp in December 1956. Sheila has sent this great picture of all the Shtilim

Madrichim, including Ronnie in the dark suit on the right and me extreme left at the back. 

I left Kimberley to go to University in Johannesburg at the beginning of 1957 – but there was Habonim continuity.  

57 – 59 Vicky Capon (Weinberg) and Eric Gershowitz took the lead.

Vicky writes (in September 2017) ‘I was very young when Eric Gershowitz and I ran

Habonim in Kimberley until Eric got married. I was born in 1941 and I married in March 1962. So clever people like you and Leon will have to work out which of the years and how many we ran the movement – it would be around when I was 15 years old and upwards. We had a lovely crowd of children. I did the little ones, Hashtilim, on Sunday mornings and Eric did the older people, Shomrim on Sunday nights. We also schlepped all our little ones to shul on a Saturday morning. They were dropped off at my house, in Synagogue Street, and I walked them up the road to shul.

59 – 60 Valerie Stein allegedly then ran Habonim and handed it on to Leon Chonin. From this time Beverly Solski (Buirski) sent me an amazing picture of 50 Children in Kimberley in the early 60s. There are 35 boys and 15 girls together with Rabbi and Mrs Werner. This must be a record for the number children in the community at any one time, and apparently there were others not in the picture. The drape in the middle has Hebrew writing on it. It seems to be a JNF event. Bev and Shelley Catzel (nee Jawno) started to add the names. And now helped by our list members Marvin Cohen (who knew the KHS Boarders from Uppington in the back row), Leon Chonin who knew the Habonim members in uniform and also David Kretzmar (who identified himself as NOT in the picture) we have, by instant research, a consensus of everyone except the partly obscured boy in the fourth row from the back.  See if you can recognise them all? 


Youth picture taken 1961/2?


Back row 14 people

David Goldberg, Jeffrey Geller, Basil Hummel (KHS boarder from Upington) Jack Klein, Roger David,

Dennis Hammer, Colin Kanushefsky, Bernard Werner, Michael Lusman, Louis Awerbuck, David

Lenhoff (KHS Boarder from Upington) Ronnie Shapiro, Steven Kurland (KHS boarder from Upington) Leslie Brenner

2nd Row from back 11

Raymond Ellis, Shelley Jawno, Cheryl Brown, Barbara Tuch, Lynette Buirski, Jeffrey Sussman, Philip Kretzmar, Beverly Buirski, Jennifer Brown, Shelley Hotz, Brian Levinsohn 

3rd row from back: 10

Rabbi Werner, Marjory Tuch, Rosemary Shapiro, Barbara Klein, Malka Werner, Natalie Mehl, Sandra Sussman, Beverley Brenner, Sharon Mehl, Mrs Leah Werner  

4th row from back 9

Lesley Talmud, Robin Apter, Hilton Toube, Jeffrey Selman, Jeff Katz (drapery) Sydney Sacks, Seville Chonin, #, Colin Frank

Front row: 8

Franklyn Dubowitz, Brian Dubowitz, Selwyn Kanushefsky, David Klein, Brian Jawno, Jules Lusman, Neil Odes, Jonty Sandler 


61 – 63 Leon Chonin became Habonim Rosh Madrich. 

It was wonderful to get Leon's article and to know that Habonim was still going strong under his care in the early 60s. You can read his article and see the pictures he sent on the web here  


Leon also sent this great GHS Matric Dance of 1963 — with Alan Huth, Sandra Diamond, Leon Chonin, Pamela Hotz, Marvin Cohen, Pearly Goldenbaum, Fleur Sack, Ronny Heynes, Ruth Witepski and Eric David. 


Leon says: 

Alan Huth (family from Upington) is an accountant in Cape Town. He was a boarder at KHS

Sandra Diamond lived in Johannesburg for a long time and was a friend on Facebook 

Pamela Hotz lives in Johannesburg and was a Facebook friend

Marvin Cohen (family also from Upington) lives in Melbourne Australia and is a Facebook friend. He was also a boarder at KHS. Pearly Goldenbaum lives in Florida USA, Fleur Sack who is a doctor also lives in Florida USA Ruth Witepski I understand lives in Japan. Eric David (Pamela Hotz's cousin) lives in LA, California, USA


64 – 65 Pamela Hotz ran Habonim. Was that the end of the line?  What happened next I wonder?

If you have any ideas or clues – drop us a line via the contact page