Torahs & Tragedies               <--Prev : Next-->

It might be a world record, having lived within a thousand meter radius for ones whole life. Born in Lawley Road, teenage years in Livingstone Road one block down, and adult years in Pauling Road, yet another block down in the same suburb called Suburbs in Bulawayo.

Just how many memories can one have of one's own lifelong back yard ? Walking the dogs is easy, one thing is for sure, I will never get lost !!

And walking the dogs brings back so many joyous memories. "Thats the house that so and so used to live in, over there was one of the first corrugated iron houses ever built in the city", and so on and so forth.

The houses in Suburbs are an eclectic mixture of beautiful modern homes and derelict old treasures with the oregon pine floors, the pressed ceilings, and the deep, wide verandas all the way round.

With the recent tragedy that befell the Bulawayo Jewish Community when their wonderful old Synagogue being razed to the ground, I started to think of all the young Jewish girls who had been at school with me.

In the days when zoning was enforced, all the girls who lived to the west of Selborne Avenue (Now Leopold Takawira Avenue) were obliged to attend Eveline High School and so many of my friends were Jewish girls from Suburbs and Kumalo.

There in Lawley Road had lived Julia Fish, a mathematical genius, whatever happened to her, we often played together in her Spanish Style bungalow, the games that teenage girls play. Over there lived Maya Weinberg, Maya was very bright and brilliant at art and at poetry, she has some real gems in the Annual of The Eveline High School that could easily have become poetry treasures.

Desiree Grevler also used to live near us, as did Ann Margolis and Ilana Jacobsen. Another memorable Jewish Eveline School girl was Audrey Silver whose parents ran a photographic studio, and many folk both here and abroad must have a portrait done by Leo Silver on their mantelpiece.

Marilyn Sidelsky is another name that comes to mind as I jog (or shuffle may be a better description) with my canine friends around my own private park ! Marilyn was an incredible swimmer if I remember rightly. Teresa Winkler was another character at Eveline School.

I wonder what these women will think when they hear of the demise of their precious shul. Memories must abound for many thousands of Jewish folk as Bulawayo was the home of a very large proportion of Zimbabwe's Jewish congregation in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Bulawayo was the hub of the nations industrial workings. Here all the textile firms, the factories were run by Jewish folk and a large proportion of the doctors and lawyers in the town were Jewish.

Miraculously many of the treasures of the Synagogues were saved by brave members of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation, and against all odds, the 4 precious Torahs were saved by these brave men. They also managed to rescue the many sumptuously decorated Ark curtains and cloths and the silver ornaments used on the Torahs. One of the curtains dates back to the year 1725 and although permeated with smell of smoke it is proudly intact.

 Each of the Torahs tells a story and their history echoes the journey of Jews around the globe. Many were carried to safety from the flames that consumed our Nation in the holocaust. How remarkable it is that they still lie in our thankful hands, saved yet again.

The Jews of Bulawayo have unerringly and lovingly protected their heritage since the community was formed back in 1894. For the last three years this tiny, yet determined community has been reeling under the effects of a country in political turmoil. From its heyday in the 1960's when their numbers boasted over 2800 souls, they have dwindled to a standing community of under 150. 

How many memories were left behind in the flames, how many brides did the lovely old synagogue bless, how many families did it hold together during glad times, sad times and times when people need each other for comfort.

Our thoughts are with Bulawayo's Jewish Community.