Kestell (Free State)


Kestell is a small town in the Free State midway between Bethlehem and Harrismith.

In 1908 Louis Samuel Legum, from Kovno, Lithuania, arrived in Kestell. He was a 16-year-old scholar escaping from service in the Russian army. He later owned the Mont Aux Sources Hotel.

A rabbi travelled from Johannesburg to Kestell to perform a circumcision in 1919. In 1925 and 1926 the community had a minyan (prayer group – at least 10 adult males).

Sabbath services were held in private homes, and Festivals and High Holy Days Services in the Town Hall. The children went to Cheder (Hebrew school) in Harrismith or Bethlehem.

The Jewish men were mostly shopkeepers – general stores, a bottle store and a butcher. There were Jewish doctors and a dentist and some farmers.

There were about 30 Jewish people in Kestell during the years 1919-1935.