top of page

Johannesburg congregations over the years

Photographs from the histories of the other Johannesburg congregations, Temples Shalom, Emanuel and David, going back to 1950.
 Click on any spot in a picture below to see it enlarged.


Façade of the newly completed Temple Shalom on Louis Botha Avenue, regarded as the height of modern design in its day. The architect was renowned architect Harold Le Roith, a leader of the Johannesburg movement.

Shalom opening1.JPG

Rabbi Moses Weiler, with the mayor of Johannesburg at his side, greets the Administrator of the Transvaal, William Nicol, at the opening of Temple Shalom in August 1950.


A huge crowd packs Temple Shalom on its opening in August 1950, exactly 17 years after Rabbi Weiler arrived in South Africa.


Members of the youth movement picnic on the overgrown playgrounds of the abandoned Hillel High School on Oxford Road Parktown, bought by Victor Brasch, second from right at the back. It would be renamed Temple Emanuel in honour of his father, Emanuel Brasch.


On 7 August 1954, exactly 21 years after Rabbi Weiler’s arrival in South Africa, he conducts the first service at Temple Emanuel Centre, in the hall of the old high school. Victor Brasch is in front to the right, and Jerry Idelson conducts a small choir at left


Rabbi Weiler’s right-hand man and the most powerful lay leader during the fifties was Victor Brasch, here appropriately contemplating a world globe. (Photograph courtesy Patricia Butterfield).


Crowds in the now-manicured garden of Emanuel shop at a fund-raising morning market in 1957.


Wielding a hammer, Rabbi Weiler fixes a mezuzah to the door-frame of the new Sisterhood cottage in the grounds of Temple Emanuel, in 1957. Sisterhood leader Eve Kantor looks on.

Beit Emanuel-Le Roith drawings.jpg

Architect Harold Le Roith’s birds-eye-view of the proposed Temple Emanuel. Shaped to resemble a Star of David, it was set in more lavish grounds than the congregation has today. It took 13 years to raise the money and build the new synagogue.


Temple David, designed by movement leader Jack Jankes, under construction in 1976. It was completed the next year. Temple David was located in then-distant and semi-rural Morningside, north of Johannesburg.


The rondavel-style Temple David, set within generous gardens on a huge plot. Years later, most of the grounds would be sold. The congregation moved to a smaller building on the remaining plot.


Community leader, chairman and architect of Temple David, Jack Jankes, wields an expert trowel as he lays the foundation stone in October 1976.


Rabbi Weiler returned to South Africa for the opening of Temple David in 1977. Behind him is the South African born Charles Wallach, newly graduated as a rabbi.

Ric Frank Kenner-wedding.jpg

Ric Agranat and Frank Kenner were the first to be married by Rabbi Weiler, a week after his arrival in South Africa. Fifty years later, they were invited to jointly celebrate their Golden Anniversary, along with the Progressive movement.


The Sisterhood organise a fashion show as entertainment for the aged. Hats are the favourite items.


Anti-semitic graffiti scrawled on the walls of Temple Shalom, following an invitation to the newly released Nelson Mandela to speak at the synagogue.


Dressed a little like a Hollywood gangster, an elderly Rabbi Weiler at a dinner which includes two of the key women leaders, Rita Marx at left and Eve Manciewicz at the far end of the table.

Mitzvah school graduates.jpg

Graduates of the Mitzvah School, which has provided matric educations to Alexandra township students since the apartheid State of Emergency in the eighties, celebrate passing their exams. The school, semi-underground in its early years, is based at Temple (Bet) David, within walking distance of the township


Trevor Egnal, left, and Desmond Sweke, right, were long-time lay leaders of Bet David. Mimi Egnal, centre, is wearing a tallis – a bold move for a woman at that time.


A Simchat Torah service at Beit Emanuel in 2014, led by Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, with Professor David Bilchitz in support, behind him, and Jessica Sherman (in pink, centre) leading the singing.

Conversion class havdalah-Bet David-23 J

Havdalah service to mark the end of the Shabbat in the courtyard of the new Bet David synagogue, led by Rabbi Adrian Schell.


Well-deserved dinner. Key leaders of Beit Emanuel during difficult times in the nineties and early 2000s were Kito Holz and Stan Abrahams (right), both chairmen on multiple occasions. Moira Holz was also a constant help behind the scenes.

bottom of page