Mahzor and flysheet
Mahzor and flysheet

My family has an immigrant experience that is not atypical of Southern African Jewry. Three of my four grandparents were born in Lithuania and emigrated to South Africa in the first years of the 20th century. My maternal grandfather came to South Africa from Manchester, England, to marry my grandmother and seems to have originated in Germany. This mahzor, published in 1901 in Warsaw, is a treasured memory of my paternal grandparents – Morris and Nessa Berelowitz. Morris (born 1884 in Rietavas), and Nessa Scher, (born 1891 in Sheduva) left Lithuania for South Africa in 1903 and married in Cape Town in 1909. The mahzor is all that remains to me of the (minimal) luggage they carried. In it, my grandfather notes significant family life events. In particular, he recorded on the inside cover the birth date and place of my aunts – Polly, Julia Ray, and Anita and my father, Alec. On September 3rd, 1939, at the outset of WWII, my father signed up for the army in Northern Rhodesia. He served for the duration of the war with the Kenya Regiment – first in Abyssinia, then in the Burmese jungle. He carried this book in his kitbag with a siddur, tallit, and tefillin for six and a half years bringing it safely back to Cape Town, where he met me for the first time in 1946! As part of the family continuum, the mahzor moved from Cape Town to Salisbury, Rhodesia, in 1956 and then, again, with my family, when we moved to the United States in 1977 on this latest (and perhaps my final) migration.

Place(s): Lithuania, South Africa, Rhodesia, Burma, United States
Year: 1903

– Michael Berelowitz

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant