Sabie (Mpumalanga)

 

Sabie was originally established in 1844 on the farm Grootfontein – the first farm in the vicinity. The branch railway from Nelspruit to Graskop reached the village in 1913 and municipal status was granted in 1916.

The roots of Jewish settlement in Sabie date back about 90 years to when gold was discovered in the area, notably at Mac-Mac, in the 1880s. For a number of years there was an intermittent ebb and flow of Jewish residents in that region, but for at least half a century there was a sufficient number of Jews who settled in the Sabie district to maintain a properly organised congregation. However, when the Glynn Gold Mine, which was founded in 1895, closed down in the 1950s, the Jewish community of Sabie began to wane.

The Jewish population of Sabie was never large. The members of the community were generally businessmen, running general dealers, hardware and furniture stores. The Sabie Hebrew Congregation was established in 1943 and in 1944 Harry Mirvis from Nelspruit donated a stand and £600 together with a donation of £300 from his brother-in-law for the building of a shul. However, the shul was never built. Services were first held in the Scottish Masonic Lodge and then in the Scout Hall.

The Jewish population of Sabie numbered 34 in 1943 and 11 in 1953. In 1967, there were 14 Jews in Sabie and this dwindled to eight in 1981. In 1991, only one Jew remained.