Kehila Shalom

“Kahal Kadosh Shalom”‘The Holy Gathering Of Peace” This Congregation is named as above in memory of the Congregation of Rhodes which has the same name.

Jews have lived on Rhodes Island for many centuries. They were the exiles from Spain who were expelled in 1492 and lived on the island since then.

At the turn of the 20th century, there was emigration from Rhodes by those who were looking towards improving their lot and that of their families. In this way many young men took to the initiative and left for America and Africa and settled in Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo.

As they established themselves in these new countries, they sent money home to Rhodes Island for the upkeep of their parents and in time, they sent for their families to join them. In this way, many thousands of people were fortunate in that they had left the island before the advent of World War II. Those who remained were deported during the war by the Nazis and many of them were sent to the Concentration Camps

This deportation took place on 17th July 1944 and of the 2000 people who were taken from Rhodes, 1500 were exterminated in the same year and the balance of 500 were sent to work in various labour camps. Of these only 105 survived the war and eventually joined their families in America and Africa.

Until 1960, the communities in Rhodesia and the Congo prospered and grew in numbers and carried on the Sephardi traditions. June 1960 brought independence to the Belgium Congo which was followed by chaos with refugees fleeing the country. Many of them were absorbed in refugee centers in Rhodesia, and once they had found their feet, they started making their way towards South Africa and to Cape Town in particular.

In 1971, the minor Wizeman Hall was used for the first time for the High Festivals.

Lay chazanim conducted the services and kept the Sephardi liturgy alive. The Green & Sea Point Hebrew Congregation granted permission to use the minor Weizman Hall permanently in 1979.

By then, many Sephardim from Rhodesia had also joined the community.In September 1980, Chahcam Solomon Gaon z”l, Chief Rabbi of all Sehardi Congregations in the Diaspora, inaugurated and consecrated the synagogue and called it “Kahal Kadosh Shalom”. This was the same name as the only existing on the beautiful island of Rhodes.

Rabbi Ruben Suiza was inducted as the Rabbi of the congregation on that same day and now holds the positon of Rabbi Emeritus.

With the joining of Jews from Egypt, Turkey and new arrivals from Zimbabwe, the congregation has grown in leaps and bounds and has become the meeting place of all Sephardi in Cape Town.

Our liturgy and style of service, as well as the warm and friendly atmosphere, attract many Israelies living in Cape Town and this has made our Kehila a multicultural community.

Festivals and religious occasions are celebrated as a family with functions such as our Chanukah Braai, Pesach Seder, Succoth Dinner, Shavuot Dinner and many other, attracting over 150 people.

Our wonderfully renovated facilities and comfortable premises, as well as the care and dedication of all our presidents and committees together with our untiring Ladies Guild, have ensured that all our congregants are well cared for. Our Senious gather weekly for afternoon tea and once a year an outing is organized. Children services are held on Friday evenings and Shabbatons are also held for the youth in conjunction with J.I.P.S.Y. Torah learning and shiurim are of prime importance and we have various shiurim on a weekly basis.

Our congregation looks forward to the future with a positive confidence for growth in social, religious and communal activities for all, as an integrated Orthodox and Zionist Synagogue in the midst of our Jewish brethren in Cape Town