Dewetsdorp (Free State)

Dewetsdorp is situated in the Free State on the railway link from Bloemfontein to Aliwal North, 68 km south east of Bloemfontein.

Benzion Kramer came to Dewetsdorp in 1902. He was a cattle and sheep farmer and speculator. He donated the house where services were held and had the honour of opening the house as a synagogue in 1936. He also had a Sefer Torah made in Jerusalem for the community.

There is no mention of a Jewish congregation in Dewetsdorp before 1935. Initially the town had its own Rabbi, but later Rev. J.J. Fogel came from Thaba ‘Nchu twice a week to teach the children. The congregation ceased to exist in 1948 and in 1961 the synagogue was sold for £900. Jewish families then went to Wepener for the High Holy Days.

The town had a Jewish doctor, Jewish butchers, general dealers, cattle and sheep farmers and speculators.

In 1936 there were 64 Jews in Dewetsdorp. Numbers dropped to 14 in 1951, only three families in 1956/7 and five Jews in 1963. One Jew was left in town in 1976, and there are now no Jews living there.