Kimberley, South Africa


Kimberley - Newsletter #28


Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach, MBE, London, April 2020

Upington, The Coronavirus Diary

and the amazing story of Philip and Augusta Sussman 

Dear Friends

Kimberley Ex-Pats Isolation Diary?

Last month I wrote to you saying ‘It’s a cliché to say it – but we are living in unprecedented times. What does it mean for humans to be confined to small spaces and not have family or friends close by socialise with for weeks or months on end?’ I invited you to say how you were faring and feeling wherever you are.

I have had quite a few responses to this request. I hope those who wrote will be happy to share their lockdown experiences with Kimberley ex-pats so we can see a world-wide picture of what is happening to us right now.  (See the end of the Newsletter.) 

Upington Jewish Community

In my researches into farming, I got to know about the Jewish community in Upington in the North Western Cape. This was through some of their boys on our circulation list who came to school in Kimberley.

Both Marvin Cohen (now in Melbourne) and David Lenhoff (now in Perth) have written about their family life in Upington and their schooldays in Kimberley.  I have put together a piece about this – excerpts below:

Upington is a small but busy town on the Orange River, about 400 kms west and slightly north of Kimberley and a four-and-a-half-hour drive away. There was no rail link and it was very remote, nevertheless there was a flourishing Jewish Community there from the early 1890s, originally involved with trading, farming, and general dealer’s stores.


Some of the pioneer Jewish families in the area had many brothers come out from Latvia and Lithuania together such as Harry and Woolf Harris, the Nuricks, the Lenhoffs and the Hummels. There is a wonderful article from 1896 in the Jewish Chronicle of London about Harry Harris (who had ventured to these areas after being in Kimberley for a while – see his story on the Kimberley website Harris, Solomon & Harry) arranging a minyan and a torah scroll to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in this far-off place in that year.

Boarding school in Kimberley

Marvin Cohen writes: In my time in Upington, there was a thriving Jewish community with the largest general dealers, motor dealers and hoteliers and many smaller businesses and farming in the region. At its height in the 50s and 60s there were about 70 Jewish families with a synagogue and communal hall with Jewish doctors and many children living a happy, Jewish life.

As there was no English-speaking High school in Upington, many of the children came to Kimberley Boys High School and boarded at Francis Oats House. (Some went to Boarding School in Cape Town). During school holidays all the teenagers returned home and there was much social interaction, picnics by the river and dances with all the generations.

Marvin Cohen says his five years at KHS 1960-1964 really were very special. He writes: ‘David Huth was the first to go to KHS and all the rest followed.  David was very friendly with Milton Jawno. From 1960 onwards Alan Huth, Allan Schatz, Simon Schatz, Mark Schatz, Richard Kurland, Steven Kurland, Norman Kurland, David Lenhoff, Marcel Lenhoff, Basil Hummel, Farrel Cohen and Marvin Cohen all attended KHS at different year levels.  I must also mention 2 De Aar boys who also attended KHS.  Selwyn Herberg and Ernest Hodenberg who always joined us on the train which passed through De Aar en-route to Kimberley’

That train trip was quite a journey!

We all gathered on the platform at the Upington station in the late afternoon each with our suitcase, a rug rolled up secured with a leather strap and usually a metal tuck box which more than likely had a combination lock.  This tuck box contained essential extras to supplement the very "ordinary" food at FOH.  Being hungry teenagers there was never enough food to satisfy our appetites.

Having slept overnight on the train we arrived in De Aar the next morning and had a six hour wait for the next train to Kimberley. Needless to say, there was lots of fun and games on the train as well as in De Aar. We always had a mixed grill breakfast in De Aar and the cafes were often scrambling to fill our orders for this meal so early in the morning. This journey took almost 24 hours. One school holiday, when rains had washed away the rail line, Misha Lenhoff ( David and Marcel's Father) drove to Kimberley in a lorry and loaded us all up, only two in the front, and the rest of us  freezing in the back, and drove us all the way home.

Many Kimberley families were so very hospitable to the hostel boys

The Jawno's, the Klein's, Dubowitz, Selman and Awerbuck families who had sons in similar years played host to some of us.  The Kurland boys and myself were extremely fortunate that Benny and Sadie David were overwhelmingly hospitable and welcoming.  We rarely saw Gerald. Eric and Roger David were more our contemporaries. How the David's coped with us all says much of their hospitality and friendship.  They included us not only on Yom Tovim or shabbat nights or weekends but also took us into their family the Hotz's - Shelly and Pam, sometimes outings to Riverton. Nothing was too much for them. 22 Carrington Road was our home away from home.

On Saturday mornings the Jewish boarders were required to go to shul. Some snuck out to go to town but not me! I was the only Cohen usually and Mr Gus Haberfeld was the Levi so my absence would always be noted. All the boys always attended shul when there was a Barmitzvah. Besides the kiddush delights the friendly barman usually stationed at the entrance to the hall was a very good source of ginger squares. (brandy and ginger ale)

Here is a list of where we are all today:

David and Alan Huth Cape Town

Farrel Cohen Cape Town

Richard Kurland Sydney, Australia

Steven Kurland London

Norman Kurland Florida USA

Simon Schatz Philadelphia USA

Mark Schatz Melbourne, Australia

Marvin Cohen Melbourne, Australia

David Lenhoff Perth, Australia

Marcel Lenhoff Melbourne, Australia

Selwyn Herberg Melbourne, Australia

Basil Hummel, Ernest Hodenberg and Allan Schatz have since passed away.

Marvin sent this wonderful more recent picture left, of four Upington KHS boys in Australia. The photo was taken in 2018 at the wedding of Marcel Lenhoff's son Justin.

L to R: David Lenhoff , Mark Schatz , Marcel Lenhoff, Marvin Cohen.

In the picture of children with Rabbi and Mrs Werner taken in the early 60s – sent to us by Beverly Solsky (née Buirski) in the back row are: Basil Hummel, David Lenhoff and Steven Kurland. You can see it here:

Marvin Cohen and his family

Regarding my own family, Marvin writes, my maternal Grandfather Clarence Robinson, born in Lithuania, went to Upington in 1909 after finishing school in Dublin.  He started as a butcher, and later farmed cattle and sheep. In Upington he met my grandmother Fanny Brower, whose family were from Goldingen in Courland, Latvia, and went to Upington because other Goldingen families eg the Brenners and Nuricks were there already. They were married in 1916 and my mother Sylvia Robinson and 3 siblings were born in Upington.

Marvin sent a wonderful article about his grandfather Clarence Robinson from the SA Jewish Times of April 1978 which we have attached on the article on the website. In this we also read of his civic achievements. He was a town councillor for 32 years, deputy mayor twice and the first Jewish mayor of Upington. It has been said that the growth of Upington both as a town and a sports centre was greatly due to his foresight and leadership. The article writer who knew him well said he merits a full book for his Civic activities and his leadership on the sports field, in communal affairs, as a farmer, businessman and leading Jewish personality.  

Marvin continues, My Father who was from Tulbach had qualified as a doctor in Liverpool. He went to do a locum in Kuruman for his older brother Morris, and while there, various travelling salesmen mentioned that the Upington Jewish Community needed a Jewish doctor.  He subsequently set up practice there where he met my mother (Sylvia Robinson).  They were married in Upington in 1940.  (Amongst the congratulatory telegrams received was one from Sam Jawno of Kimberley). I was born in Upington as were my older sister and younger brother.

My parents decided to move to Cape Town in 1964 at which stage my sister was already in Cape Town and my brother and I at school in Kimberley.  My father’s nephew by marriage Leon Movsowitz continued the Upington practice for some years.

I hope this gives you some idea of what Jewish life was like in Upington. Congrats. to you and Leon and all contributors for this great Kimberley project.


Marvin Cohen

David Lenhoff’s family memories

David Lenhoff, who was also a boarder at KHS for 7 years, from 1960 to 67 along with other Upington boys Basil Hummel and Steven Kurland  writes:  Hi Geraldine, My grandfather, Abraham Lenhoff, had a farm just outside Upington in the north-western Cape province which he farmed from early in the 20th century until 1944 when he passed away.

Because my father and his two brothers were up north fighting Hitler's war at the time, there was no one left capable of managing the farm and it was then sold. By that time, my father was an observer/navigator in RAF Bomber Command and his two brothers were with the South African Defence Forces in Italy. Fortunately, all three of them survived the war.

Additionally, my father had a sister, Sylvia Schatz, whose husband owned a farm about 60 miles outside of Upington towards the border with what was then South West Africa, now Namibia. My uncle died in 1960 but my aunt continued running the farm with the assistance of one of her sons until approximately the mid-70s when she moved to Cape Town and the farm was sold.

By the way, all three of my aunt’s sons went to boarding school at Kimberley Boys High. They were Alan, Simon and Mark Schatz. Alan has passed away, Simon lives in Philadelphia in the US and Mark lives in Melbourne. I get to see Mark fairly often as I visit Melbourne (where my brother Marcel Lenhoff, who is also a KHS alumnus lives) approximately three times a year.

So that, in a nutshell, is a potted version of my family’s connection with farming in the north-western Cape and Kimberley Boys High School.

Kind regards to you and Leon

David Lenhoff

The full article on Upington and the Kimberley boys is now on the Kimberley website under ‘Articles’. Upington To read more about the remarkable Jewish Community of Upington, Marvin included the link to the extensive kehilalinks website for Upington which is a work in progress by Braemie Lenhoff.

Philip and Augusta Sussman

Philip Sussman, born in 1877 was the pioneer of the family who left Taverig in Lithuania for Kimberley in 1900. His actions and those of his family that he brought out and set up in business, have had ramifications on the development of business and industry in Southern Africa from the tip of the Cape Province to the northern reaches of what was then Northern Rhodesia

When we posted the Cecil Sussman story in 2018, he gave us the history of his father Kollen Sussman, who was part of the Sussman family from Taverig. It was the eldest brother Philip Sussman, (left) who at 23 was, came to Kimberley in 1900. As the family had been farmers back home, he started farming with cattle and sheep. By 1912, his business had expanded so much that Philip was able to send for his brothers, Isaac (who became a diamond buyer) and Guttel, Kollen, and GeorgeSussman Brothers now acquired several more farms in the Kimberley district and prospered as farmers, livestock dealers and entrepreneurs in the Meat industry. They established Kimberley Ranching Co and the Premier Meat Supply, the most significant butcher shop in Kimberley in De Beers Road. See: Sussman, Cecil and Natalie (nee Kroll). 

Cecil then said that later Philip had ‘left Kimberley to ‘pursue other interests.’ This was intriguing! Fortunately, we did not have too long to wait as Philip Mayers of Melbourne, son of Philip’s youngest daughter Sheila, offered to fill in the picture of his grandparent’s lives. And what a fascinating story it is. 

He told us that Philip had developed a very good friendship with Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, especially because of their shared interest in horseracing. (Philip’s horse Sun Tor won the Durban July in 1934). When Oppenheimer expanded his gold mining ventures into the Transvaal, and copper mining in Northern Rhodesia he invited Philip to set up businesses to support his mining operations.

As a result of these contracts Philip established cattle farms, butcheries and cold storages, bakeries, hotels, bottle stores and concession stores on the Copperbelt in Northern Rhodesia while his brothers continued to run the Kimberley farms and businesses.  Philip put together a group of investors to finance the new projects, his brothers included. In the Transvaal (Klerksdorp, Orkney, Stilfontein, Brakpan), where Anglo-American mined gold, Philip established similar businesses but not farms. 

Philip therefore had already been travelling extensively to the Transvaal and Northern Rhodesia, so he and his wife finally moved to Johannesburg in about 1934-5. In the early 1940’s he became ill. He died from pneumonia in 1945 aged only 68. 

Philip married PE girl Augusta (Gussie) Cohen in 1902. They had five children, four daughters and a son. In Kimberley they lived at 227 Dutoitspan Road.

A highly cultured woman, a composer and painter, Gussie made a big impact on Kimberley as a charity worker and fundraiser. She was prominent on various committees and charities, particularly those concerned with the welfare of soldiers and sailors after the first world war.

In 1930 a special Civic event was held in honour of Augusta Sussman for all the good work she had done and the vast sums she had raised for Kimberley charities. The City Hall Supper Room was filled to capacity on the occasion, and Gussie was presented with an illuminated address (painted by William Timlin) from the Mayor and City Council, itemising appreciation from many major organisations. In the speeches which followed it was clear how much she was loved and valued for her charm and achievements.  There was a lengthy article in the DFA about this event. Gussie also had a long entry with the photo above in the 1938 edition of the South African women’s Who’s Who?  And in 1947 there was a profile of her in the women’s magazine, Simpsons.

You can read the full story of Philip and Gussie Sussman that I compiled from information, articles and photographs supplied by grandson Philip Mayers of Melbourne, Australia, grandson Bill Stern NZ and Cecil and Natalie Sussman of Cape Town here Sussman, Philip and Augusta (nee Cohen)  You can also see the wedding picture of Tilly Sussman and Barney Dorman in the Kimberley shul in 1911 in Kimberley weddings

Kimberley Ex-Pats Corona Virus Lockdown Isolation Diary?

Here we begin to see a picture of how some of us are dealing with this strange situation where each country, one after the other is imposing lockdown in their attempt to stem the speed and ferocity of the coronavirus and the havoc it can play on their lives and health services. This Diary could become a very interesting historic document. Let’s hope we all come out unscathed. I look forward to hearing from you.    

From: David Friedman, Los Angeles

Sent: 22 March 2020 17:50
Subject: Re: stay at home

Dear Geraldine 

Carol and I are taking the stay at home urging very seriously indeed. Thank goodness all of our immediate family are back home - a few were traveling when this thing broke - and are all well but taking the orders to stay at home seriously. Funnily enough at a fairly recent batmitzvah of our granddaughter Kate I made a little speech telling Kate about the other Kate Friedman née Bergman, my mother (whose father David Bergman, died aged 44 in the 1918 flu). Hope you, Ronnie and all are looking after yourselves in these crazy times. Love, David

From: Eli Rabinowitz, Perth Australia

Sent: 22 March 2020 17:50
Subject: Re: Goldberg, Haas and Cohen - Jabotinsky

Hi Geraldine

I have just managed to get home from South Africa. I have not yet posted those families on the Kimberley website! Please send newsletter, but nothing else, for the moment.  We are in confusion and turmoil here in Australia - lots of drastic new measures last night, many to absorb. I have to consider my options! Not sure what, so please be patient, and do not send me anything else!  Thanks, Eli

From Trevor Toube, London
Sent: 23 March 2020 16:10
Subject: Re: Jonathan Sacks’s take on coronavirus

Interesting, Geraldine. I would like to believe that former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is right in his discussion on the BBC re coronavirus. How are you managing. I seem to be OK so far, and my kids are keeping in touch very assiduously. Felicity is also being an amazing support. Nevertheless, I do feel anxious quite a lot of the time. One can only hope that things turn out for the best eventually.  Keep well and safe. Trevor xx

From: Theo Kretzmar
Sent: 23 March 2020 19:00
Subject: Re:SA  lockdown

We are from Thursday locked into our home for 21 days. Wonder if same to you from Boris later this evening,  Theo Kretzmar 

From Geraldine Auerbach, Harrow, north west London 

Monday 23 March 2020

Our family decided already last weekend 14/15 March stay at home in Harrow for the foreseeable future. My last outing was to shop at Tesco on Sat 14 March, which seemed fine to do at the time. At that stage there was plenty of fresh fruit and meat – though there were empty shelves for rice, pasta, baked beans and toilet paper. Daughter and family came for lunch last Sunday 15 March – its always lively and fun when they are around. Not sure when we can do that again. Now we use facetime. What an amazing facility – something I only dreamed of in my childhood. 

We are lucky to have a spacious house and a big garden and are very blessed to be locked down as an intergenerational a family – so not just Ronnie and I on our own. Our son and partner and two children 10 and 4, have been living with us in Harrow for the last two and a half years. They are not going out to any of their usual educational or social activities like gymnastics, choir and cycle races. They can pop to the shops if necessary, but they order shopping online. Dropped at the door. We also get fresh veggies and fish delivered. 

We are mostly keen gardeners and are kept busy propagating, weeding planting seeds and veggies. So far what is happening seems so unreal and world lockdown and fallout so undreamed of. The repercussions are unfolding each hour. I have not yet listened to what our PM Boris Johnson is saying tonight – but surely it is more lockdown. I try to limit watching the news to once a day as it’s too alarming and distressing. Ronnie and I have many programmes saved on our Virgin media box to watch. They are mainly documentaries about history, abandoned engineering, nature programmes, railway journeys and gardening. (and I have always got some Kimberley ex-pat research to keep me engaged and occupied.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Yes, it was more lockdown the PM offered us. Don’t go out even to the park if you can’t keep 2 metres distance from anyone else. Stay home unless your presence is urgently needed to help folks in this crisis – with food or medical aid.  Australia is also in lockdown. They have closed Bondi Beach as people would not stay away – needed one last swim!

It’s to save lives and save pressure on medical services. Medical experts around the world say the same and New York is a ghost town. Trump is getting bord of it. Against the script he is given each day to read to the public (which he seems to struggle over) he looks up says – we are winning and I think that by Easter we will have won this battle and can lift restrictions!  

The reality is very different – our good friend Barbara Rosenberg puts it so well in this horrific email below how it’s coming closer all the time. In writing to Yvonne, Hilda, Jill and me she says:  Dear ladies,

Here is an update on my news of the week.

What a hell of a week it’s been.  First all my regular activities were cancelled one by one. Then the museums and galleries closed.  Then theatres, cinemas and restaurants.  It was a bit like ‘……and then they came for me’.  Unfortunately it came for Roger. 

Roger is now in intensive care on a ventilator – the hospital told her he us ‘critical but stable – and some people recover’. We sincerely hope he pulls through. (Barbara and Roger were at my lovely 80th birthday party on 1 March – as was Trevor Toube).

From: Daphne and Harry Gillis in Sea Point Cape Town 

Sent: 26 March 2020 06:48
Subject: Re: Kimberley Ex-Pats Newsletter No 27 y

Hi Geraldine 

Now as we face lockdown and isolation in many countries across the world there will be stories to tell.   We are all well, missing not being able to see our family and friends, but thanks to email, Facebook and WhatsApp everyone keeps in touch.

keep well and safe, Kind regards, Daphne Gillis. sent from my iPad

From: Althea Kretzmar (Moulie Point now Fresnaye ) CT

Sent: 26 March 2020 16:17
Subject: Covid19 Lockdown - moving home

Hi All

This is David here, writing to let the family know that we have moved mom Althea from Goodhope Park to our home in Fresnaye, to be with us during the 3-week lockdown.

From tonight all people in mom’s block will be confined to their flats, and only allowed out for food shopping or visits to a doctor or pharmacy, just like the rest of us. For people like mom, and there are sadly many of them in her building, that would be difficult to impossible, as it would be at the best of times. Lunch plates will be delivered to each flat’s front door, for the residents to still be able to get their meal. Carer access to the building will also be very strictly managed, but clearly the risks of having a carer come in each day are huge, having to travel on public transport.

We felt that for many reasons it would be by far best for mom to move in with us, so that we can look after her, and she will not be on her own in her flat in what would pretty much amount to solitary confinement.

This will no doubt not be an easy time for any of us, but is certainly for the best, and we feel that this is the best place for mom to be over the next 3 weeks, and quite possibly longer, should the lockdown be extended. This will be so much better than being cooped up in the flat. Wishing you all well over this very challenging time, wherever you are. Stay safe.

Much love, David

From: Vicky Weinberg née Capon in Milnerton, Cape Town

Sent: 26 March 2020 16:33
Subject: RE: Kimberley Ex-Pat newsletter no 27 z

Hi Geraldine

I have become an old woman, now 78 years old, had falls and been weakened as a result. I no longer have a car, so do not drive, so I am home bound unless my daughter Lisa, who lives with me takes me to the shopping centre with her. I have always been a “Home Body” and am quite happy to be in my house and have built up a wonderful garden!

My elder daughter Calene lives a few doors away so we have all our Shabbat meals and Yomtavim together. Calene works as a teacher at the Jewish day School in Sea Point and gets home very late each evening as we are in Milnerton. Therefore Lisa does the Challot for both houses every Friday and we take turns on the venue. We are now just back from Calene and will not be out and about for the duration of the lock down starting tomorrow. We talk every day by telephone and other means every day. I spoke to Sheila on the phone yesterday. She is stuck in New Zealand for the duration but is quite happy as she is with her daughter and family.

The world is in turmoil, and we will all have to endure as best we can and pray for normalcy to return! So: vluit, vluit, my storie is uit!

Thank you for all your newsletters. Always lovely to have the news!

Be well, Best Wishes, Vicky

From: Alma Steinberg, New Zealand

Sent: 27 March 2020 23:01
Subject: Covid-19 Lockdown

Hi Geraldine


It is difficult to come to terms with this unprecedented disaster which we are all facing, and which is beginning to affect the way we live. Here in New Zealand there have so far been no deaths and the number of cases of the disease rose to 368 yesterday.  However, the measures taken by the government to combat the virus are much tougher than in many countries.  Since midnight on Wednesday the country has been in “Lockdown". Everything except essential services have been shut down for at least 4 weeks and the public have been ordered to stay home as much as possible and only take the car out for essential purposes. Walking in the street for exercise is permitted as long as we keep our distance from other people.  We may only interact with people living within our household.  As I live alone it means that I am on my own all the time.  However, my children are just up the road and they do my weekly shopping which they drop at my front door. We are of course in regular contact on the phone. Mark and Mandi are working from home and the children are keeping up with their schoolwork at home on their computers. Thank goodness for modern technology. Take care and stay healthy. Alma

Friday 27 March from Geraldine

Today our PM has tested positive to Coronavirus – with symptoms he says are slight. He is ‘Working from Home’ ie running the country! The Health Secretary has also tested positive. And the Chief Scientist. As have several other politicians – and even our future king Prince Charles has got it. (I wonder what Trump is thinking now? He has said it will be all over by Easter – maybe it will for him?)

What has struck me as somewhat ironic is that the one people that was singled out for systematic eradication in the 20th Century – the Jewish people – seem in the 21st Century to be in the forefront of medical, scientific and social experts working to eradicate this plague and are the ones that the media go to for advice and information. 

From: Bernard (Dov) Werner, Jerusalem

Sent: 30 March 2020 21:21
Subject: Coronavirus Diary

Dear Geraldine 

I found a connection from your mentioning Schul services and coronavirus.  In Prague at the Alt-Neau Schul in days gone by, every week there were 2 minyanim before Shabbat. (Kabbalat Shabbat) The earlier one was a full musical affair with musical instruments including an organ. It was from Lechu Neranena till the end of Lecha Dodi and ended well before Shabbat Candle-lighting time. The later service was at the regular time leading into the Evening Service.

Now with social distancing our shul is closed, so…. Last Friday (27.03.2020) our Schul arranged a musical welcoming of Shabbos on Zoom. It was led by a musical member of the schul with his guitar and was a delight. After I switched off my smartphone and as we were lighting the Shabbos candles, we heard singing from nearby. Another neighbour went out on his stoep and davened aloud and beautifully too! So I heard the davening twice just like in Prague 

May we all be healthy and well. Bernard Werner 

From: Natalie Sussman, Cape Town  

Sent: 01 April 2020 16:27

Subject: Kimberley

Dear Geraldine

Sea Point is eerily silent. The normally busy Beachfront is deserted no traffic. Even the birds are silent and Homo Sapiens in this age of Science has been Devasted by a virus that would have remained in the animal kingdom had Man obeyed the laws of nature. Laura is a most loving and caring daughter as is Mike and devote much time to me Laura cooks and shops online for me and my eight Londoners and eight Aussies are in touch daily, so l have been truly blessed.

You and Cecil bonded and we are very grateful to you for ensuring that the memories have been captured for future generations. The downside of this lockdown is too much time and I miss Cecil every minute of every day and my Sandy. He was a very special man. 

The Oppenheimer family remain loyal to South Africa and when our President announced the lockdown, they donated 1billion Rands to the Emergency Fund. I smiled when it was announced that the Sex workers appealed for exemption as necessary workers.

Stay well and enjoy the unusual Peisach we will all experience

Love Natalie P S Dov Senderovitz did come from Taungs

From: Dr Trevor Toube London
Sent: 06 April 2020 10:46
Subject: Passover greetings

Dear friends and family.

Ma Nishtana haPesach HaZeh? What a different Passover this will be, with its 11th Plague! Some of us will be isolated and alone. Even those living in a family will not be able to have their usual friends and relatives for the sedarim. [Seder, for the Israelis!]

Normally, Felicity would have 25 to 30 people each night, and I would have been there last week baking enough cakes and biscuits to feed us all. Not this year.  The good news, as far as I am personally concerned, is that I have been 'isolating' for three weeks, and everyone in Felicity's house has been staying in for the past 'magic' 14 days. We all appear to be OK, so later today I will be moving to their house and will stay as long as seems appropriate. That means I will be able to have the sedarim and all my Passover meals with the family. I really was not looking forward perhaps to have to do everything on my own.

I wish you all as good a Passover as possible under the circumstances.

Keep well and safe.


From Geraldine, Wed 8 April London.

Like so many others we did a seder by remote with our children. I was so proud of Karen to make a whole seder – and invite Ronnie and me to join. In the afternoon we compared notes and photos while making our matzoh balls - separately. Mine turned out quite heavy and dense this time. I hope hers were light and fluffy. We will try again.

Outside of our little world, our PM is now in intensive care. Having oxygen but not on a ventilator. The nation is very concerned.  Whether they voted for him or not, people are sending good wishes.  Meanwhile nearly 1000 people died today in the UK of the virus. They are careful to say – ‘in hospital’. That means that those who died in the community or in care homes are not accounted for.

Sadly, Roger died. Barbara was not even allowed at his funeral, but she was pleased to have had one visit to hospital and to have seen him calm and sedated. I was able to zoom in to the meeting afterwards when friends and family from all over the world could come together to talk to Barbara and her three lovely sons. This is a new innovation and immediate response to lockdown. It was amazing – very warm and brought people close – and as Barbara said to me at the very end (when I plucked up courage to speak as almost everyone had ‘left the meeting’), she was pleased to have had such a wonderful warm gathering – and she did not have to do any catering!

The Government has to decide tomorrow whether to lift the lockdown – seems very unlikely. The slogan here, as everywhere, is, ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’

From: Norma and Milton Friedman, Los Angeles

Sent: 09 April 2020 05:13 Subject: RE: happy birthday 2020

Dear Geraldine and Ronnie,

Thanks for the good wishes for my 80th!  From 8 am until 1 pm the phone literally did not stop, both on my landline and mobile.  And every conversation was about 30 minutes because no one had anywhere to rush to like normal. In the afternoon I had a “social distance” visit from my family in our courtyard - the first time I’d seen them all in 3 weeks.  Then, I made a nice dinner for the 2 of us followed by calls from Australia. The interesting thing is when I analyzed it, all the calls were from family all over the world and friends of mine from Durban days – no Americans.  We have just finished our first night Seder meal alone but consider ourselves so fortunate compared to millions of others around the world. We do not know anyone personally who has had the virus.  I must say the California Governor and LA’s mayor were amazing (not like our President).  They instituted social distancing, stay at home orders, masks etc. from the first week in March so in relation to our population we have done well so far.

The prospect of “having nothing to do” for weeks is daunting, but and somehow between reading the paper, doing Sudoku, walking. reading, watching TV Netflix etc. it is amazing how each day passes quickly. Much love from us both and stay safe.


From Marvin Cohen, Melbourne

Sent: 11 April 2020 04:08

Hi Geraldine

Thanks for your reply and apologies for the delay in answering your questions about Upington, but as you can imagine with what is going on in the world today and Pesach, I have been working my way through various projects. I hope that you are well and I presume isolated as are we but we do go for a walk every day.  We are shocked to see how bad it is in the UK and have had family members living there who thankfully have recovered from the virus.  Our son and his wife who live in Singapore were both in hospital for 2 weeks with Covid 19. Fortunately, their kids and housekeeper/nanny were allowed to go home after testing neg for 4 days and were quarantined for 2 weeks.  They are now recovering at home as Singapore is in lockdown as well.

From: Alma Steinberg, Auckland NZ 

Sent: 13 April 2020 06:03
Subject: Re: Covid-19 Lockdown

Hi Geraldine

I keep busy reading, watching TV and doing crossword puzzles. Although we don't visit each other now, it is good to know that the family are close by if I need anything. They have been doing all my shopping.  I only go out for short walks in my street to get exercise and fresh air. On the first night of Pesach we had a virtual Seder together.   Mark delivered a very nice meal to me of chicken soup and matzo balls and chicken and vegetables. We chatted on-line during the meal and it really felt as if we were together. Stay safe and love to all Alma 

From Geraldine, Harrow UK

18 April 2020 For us it is still sort of business as usual, Let’s hope the speedy action by the NZ government will lessen the disaster of the plague to hit the world.  

Yesterday we were told that the lockdown in the UK would not be lifted for ‘at least’ another 3 weeks. It was expected, I have to say. Deaths (only those counted in hospital) have been climbing steadily and are now running at just below one thousand per day! The government built in a matter of weeks several huge emergency hospitals – one in each big city in the UK - in an exhibition centre or sports hall. So far though, they have not had to use them. Most hospitals have turned over regular wards to emergency coronavirus ones. We are told there are many more fatalities to come.

The opposition is calling for the government to state a clear exit strategy – but that is so pathetic. Nobody knows what a safe exit strategy should look like – or when it can be implemented. It’s so new this virus that every government around the world is struggling to keep up – never mind look forward. They don’t know if you can be infected again even if you have made antibodies. They don’t have the time to trial potential vaccines, in order to know if they work and are safe. And they are struggling to get enough test kits and labs and sites for those that need testing. In this country they may have the beds and the staff, but they don’t have protective equipment PPE for the front-line workers. They are running out of clean gowns and visors. They say several million are arriving tomorrow from Turkey. 

From: Sheila Grant – in New Zealand with her daughter
Sent: 22 April 2020 05:09
Subject: Kimberley Ex-Pats' Coronavirus Diary

Dear Geraldine,

here is my contribution to the diary from beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand/. I am with my daughter Lauren, her husband David, and little Madison, who had her 8th birthday last Friday.  Like Ronnie and Norma we had a social distance party.  David’s parents came round and sat on chairs on the pavement and a family of friends from across the road sat 2 metres away from them, while we were in the garden and handed out cake.  Lauren hooked up with several of Madi’s friends on Zoom and we all sang “Happy Birthday”.  It was as good as it gets in lockdown and made up for a little girl’s disappointment at having to cancel her birthday party.

Our Pesach Seder went well, although we missed the large crowd of friends we would have had.  We connected with another family on Zoom and went through the Haggadah with everyone reading some part and the two little girls asking the 4 Questions.

The New Zealand government has acted very quickly and strictly to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We have been in level 4 lockdown for three weeks and have another week to go.  Then we go into two weeks on level 3,  when we can expand our “bubble” to include another 1 or 2 families, and people with certain occupations can go back to work, still keeping their distance.  I was due to return to Cape Town on the 24th May but don’t know when international flights will resume, but am happy to remain here for as long as necessary as I would be alone at home and not even able to walk around in my walled complex, whereas here we can have lovely long walks in our own area, providing we keep our distance.  We keep busy with home schooling, crafts, puzzles, housekeeping and cooking, and board games and the internet is such a useful tool for staying in touch with friends and family. I was pleased to read that Althea has moved in with David’s family for the duration, and that Trevor was with his daughter and her family for Pesach.  It is really hard to be alone, especially at such a troubling time.

Fondest regards to all.

Sheila Grant (Frank)

From: Delia Benn USA  
21 April 2020 23:23
Subject: Re: Kimberley Ex-Pats Newsletter No 27 y

Hi Geraldine

It's certainly a challenging time for the world, as we are forced to change our priorities. After giving the situation a lot of thought, I think that, because we're confined to our homes, our focus needs to be firstly on our families, and then giving moral support to people who are alone. 

We live in a condo block with many widows so we're aware of the need to be there for others. Our neighbor across the passage from us is widowed and, as our front doors face each other, we decided that, if we could each place a small table just inside our front doors with all our ceremonial objects on them, we could do the seder together. We then retired to our dining room tables to eat our dinner, but keeping the doors open so that we could come together to complete the seder once we'd finished our meals. It was certainly different, but we all enjoyed it.

Another opportunity is that we have plenty of time to reconnect to old friends that we haven't spoken to in years. My family have used Zoom for many get togethers. There are also wonderful classes available.

We can make this a valuable time if we use it for meaningful communication.

I wish you and your family good health and safety.

Best wishes

Delia Benn

I am still collecting information about farming in the area and about service during WW2 – so if you have stuff to send, please do so – you are still in time.

We are so grateful to all those who have emailed us and shared their stories, comments, pictures and ideas. This Newsletter and the Website are collaborative efforts made up of your valued contributions. I may be the catalyst, and Eli Rabinowitz the webmaster, but it’s only because of your contributions and input that it exists and grows.

If you have a story to tell or comment about Jewish life in Kimberley, please write it up – or just jot down some notes and send it to us. We will be happy to help you edit and complete your story. 

Kimberley Ex-Pat Newsletter no 28

Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach MBE, London, April 2020