Lichtenburg (North West)

 

Lichtenburg is situated in the North West province, the former Western Transvaal, 214 km from Johannesburg and close to Ventersdorp, Coligny and Mafikeng. It is a fertile farming area.

There are some records of Jewish settlers coming to Lichtenburg before 1900, among them were David Rothschild who farmed and ran a store; Louis Goldstein, who traded in skins and hides; Abe Slavin, a tailor and Dr Kohn, who was made district surgeon before 1900.

The Lichtenburg Hebrew Congregation was established around 1924; 22 families contributed to the building fund for the synagogue.

The Jews of Lichtenburg maintained close links with Jews living in the neighbouring towns of Mafikeng, Ventersdorp and Coligny. At one time in the early 1950’s it was suggested that Lichtenburg become the regional Jewish centre.

In the early days, many of the Jewish residents were involved in the diamond diggings in one way or another. Jews also owned stores, farms and ran the two hotels. There were also Jewish attorneys, pharmacists and doctors.

In 1936 the official census recorded 280 Jews in the town, in 1951 there were 170 and in 1964 there were 108. By 1980 the once lively community had dwindled to a few families (47 persons). Figures recorded in the 90’s show there were still 42 Jews in 1991, eight in 1996, and five Jews still living in Lichtenburg in 1997.