Plunge, Lithuania


Plungianers in South Africa

Kalmen NORWITZ [nee, NORISKIN] (b. 1874 d. 1958) was born in the shtetl called Plungian - the Yiddish name for the town known in Lithuanian as Plunge. He arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa c. 1897. Kalmen was the husband of "Ida" OLOWITZ [nee, ORELOWITZ] (b. 1888 Rakashik, Kovno Guberniya, Lithuania d. 1973 South Africa). "Ida" was the daughter of Sarah Michla [BEDEK] (d. 1927 South Africa) and Berel ORELOWITZ (d. 1943), my maternal great-grand aunt and uncle.

Abraham SIVE (b. 1866 d. 1947) also came from Plungian and arrived in South Africa c. 1895. Rose [SIVE] NORWICH, widow of the late Dr. Isadore "Oscar" NORWICH [nee, NORWITZ] (b. 1910 d. 1994), and daughter-in-law of Kalmen and "Ida" [OLOWITZ, nee ORELOWITZ] NORWITZ, and whose recollections are the basis for this article, is the daughter of Abraham and Lily [MACHANIK] SIVE.

Many of those who left Plungian went via Germany or through Libau, Latvia. They sailed on cargo ships to London. Some emigrants were provided care at the London Jewish Shelter on Leman Street in Whitechapel. From there, the emigrants boarded larger ships which brought them to South Africa. Generally, emigrants who went to America sailed from German ports to American ports direct.

A number of families came to South Africa from Plungian. The South African Jewish Year Book 1929, a reliable authority, notes the landsmanschaften - The Plungianer Society - Eras Achim DPlungian was established in 1904. 1929 members included: H. TEEGER, L. COHEN, H. LEVITT, M. LEWIN, K. NORWITZ, B. STUPPEL, A. HAYMAN, M. ROSTOVSKY, A. ROSTOVSKY, A. GOUCHE, L.H. COHEN, and A.W. KATZEN.

The landsmanschaften helped Plungianers to keep in close contact. There were many such societies which served not only as a social center, but also as benevolent societies offering financial assistance. The Plungianer Society never reached the size of the Ponevez Society which formed its own congregation and built a synagogue.

Rose [SIVE] NORWICH recalls from her childhood Plungianers who visited her home. People like M.I. ISAACSON who owned the original Warmbaths Hotel; Schmere KESSEL who worked for his brother in the large furniture store DE KOCK & KESSEL; the TEEGER family who arrived in South Africa via Ireland.

Later, Rose met many others like the old JAFFE family who collected art in Cape Town; Larna BRONSTEINs parents; Joe KAPELUS; Norman BERGs parents; the STUPPEL and ZINN families.

Based on the oral history of Rose [SIVE] NORWICH]

Submitted by: Steven KITNICK Great-grand nephew of Berel ORELOWITZ