Emerging Jewish communities created numerous institutions, synagogues, burial societies and charitable organizations, honouring and protecting their own. Later these organizations grew to include Jewish schools, fraternal societies, Zionist organisations and youth movements, espousing left and right wing Zionist viewpoints. These societies still exist. Their purpose today is more inclusive; they do noble work with South Africa’s poorest.
Michael Hurwitz, peddling a watch to a farmer,1895.
Denied the opportunity to practice a profession in Eastern Europe, Jews
often began their working lives as
smouse (pedlars), traveling to the
country districts, and bringing everything from haberdashery to hardware to the farmers. The merchants’ success enabled them to set up their own stores, and even to manufacture the goods. In this way they pioneered the furniture, mattress and garment industries in South Africa.
Many Jews settled in the country towns (dorps). They owned hotels, stores, and practiced different professions. Some of them rose to political prominence.
From the 1950's Sephardi Jews migrated from Egypt, the Belgian Congo and Zimbabwe, establishing vibrant communities in South Africa.