A History of Progressive Judaism in South Africa

On 13 December, the South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town will launched an engaging exhibition entitled Ground Breakers: A History of Progressive Judaism in South Africa.

This is the first-ever exhibition on Progressive Judaism in South Africa. We demonstrate in pictures, text and video, how a minority within the Jewish community broke new ground: advancing the role of women, building bridges to other faiths and taking outreach projects into African townships. We tell the stories of struggles for recognition and describe the fascinating characters who helped build a movement whose impact and significance get their deserved recognition here.

One of the highlights: Not many people know that the composer of the world-renowned Jewish folk song Hava Nagila was AZ Idelsohn, a South African and one of the first proponents of Progressive Judaism in this country. This is the first ever recording of Hava Nagila. In 1922 at the composer’s own home, he recorded his family singing his famous composition for the first time and you can hear it in the exhibition.

The exhibition is based on research by Irwin Manoim, published in his new book Mavericks Inside the Tent.

The exhibition was live-streamed on our Facebook page. If you would like to watch it CLICK HERE