South African Jewish Museum

The South African Jewish Museum stands on what is considered Cape Town’s ‘museum mile’ in the centre of town

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe South African Jewish Museum

The South African Jewish Museum stands on what is considered Cape Town’s ‘museum mile’ in the centre of town – neighbour to the Old Synagogue, the first to be built on South African soil – the Great Synagogue, and the Albow Centre where the Cape Town Holocaust Centre is housed.

Where? 88 Hatfield Street, Gardens (parking on Cape Town High School grounds)

Call? +27 (0)21 465-1546

When? Sunday to Thursday from 10h00 to 17h00 and Friday from 10h00 to 14h00.

Overnight? See City Bowl accommodation, in Cape Town

The museum is a major attraction for visitors, and it is not hard to understand why. Firstly, you enter the museum through the synagogue, and secondly, the museum is architecturally most appealing - it is a blend of old and new that assimilates the Old Synagogue into the complex, and the play of glass, wood and metal is a creative achievement that is beautiful to see.

One of the most meaningful displays is the shtetl - a to-scale rendition of the East European village, Lithuania, to which most Jews living in South Africa can trace their origins. It is at once authentic and incredibly interesting.

Other exhibits include Jewish art, and multi-media displays of the history of the Jews in South Africa, whilst interactive touch screens and plasma displays place the museum, despite its fundamental historical context, right in the 21st century, and it is one of the most technically advanced museums in the world.

There is a documentary on Nelson Mandela that is screened daily, and a special family trees section in the Discovery Centre, which provides information on an estimated 15 000 families from Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus who migrated to the southern tip of Africa between 1880 and 1930. Exhibitions are constantly updated and changed but have, in the past and presently, included unseen works by Irma Stern, works by Marc Chagall Hadassah, and selected works of William Kentridge.

For additional information see: Visit the SA Jewish Museum.

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Did you know?

The South African Jewish Museum was officially opened by Nelson Mandela in 2000. Standing proud in the 'Museum Mile' in central Cape Town the entrance to the museum is situated in the Old Synagogue which was the first synagogue built in South Africa in 1863.

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