A glass and steel bridge reminiscent of a dockside gangplank links the old synagogue and new museum building. The bridge ascends to create a sense of embarkation and symbolizes the journey over the ocean from the old world to the new. It is historically appropriate as the greater part of the South African Jewish community sailed here by ship from Lithuania. From this point, every window in the museum offers a view of Table Mountain, the first sight of land that greeted the arriving immigrants as they steamed into the harbour.
Metal, glass and wood are used creatively throughout the Museum in a continuity of design, complementing the hi-tech displays.
The most evocative display is the shtetl - a reconstruction to scale of an East European village inhabited by Jews. It includes a typical home, general dealer, tailor's shop, school room and village well. To ensure its authenticity, in 1996 a team was sent to Riteve, Lithuania to study rural village architecture typical of the mid-19th century. To their astonishment the researchers discovered that the original well was still in use.
Architects and designers
The South African Jewish Museum is a project of the Kaplan Kushlick Foundation, with the assistance of Eric and Sheila Samson, the Nedbank Group and David Susman.
Architect - Michael Hackner, Dennis Fabian, Berman and Hackner Architects.
Museum Concept and Curatorial Work – Renee Sivan, Museologist
Exhibition and Interior Design – Dorit Harel, Harel Designers