Ladybrand (Free State)

 

Ladybrand is a small town situated in the Free State near the Lesotho border.

Jewish presence in Ladybrand appears to have begun with a Jewish trader, Mr Friedman, who erected a wood and iron shanty in the 1870s and traded with the few families that formed the nucleus of the town. He sold his business in 1884. Though the synagogue was built after 1926, the congregation was established by 1925. The town also had a Jewish cemetery, which is now maintained by the Ladybrand Town Council.

It appears that the Jewish population were mostly shopkeepers and hoteliers and engaged in farming.
As with most of the country communities, the Jewish population was at its height in the mid to late 1930s, with a gradual decline in numbers during the next decade.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies reported in November 1939 that Ladybrand had a strong Jewish community. By the mid-1950s very few families remained. The congregation ceased to exist in 1952 and the synagogue was sold in 1958 for £700.

Community records show that in 1951 there were four families (eight people), as opposed to 28 according to the census of that year. One report for 1980/81 shows that there were no Jews in Ladybrand, yet the census indicates that there were seven.