Winburg (Free State)


Winburg is 116 km northeast of Bloemfontein, in the Free State (Orange Free State – pre 1994).

William and Henry Adler were pioneer traders in Winburg where they ran a branch of the family business around 1874. Isaac Pincus was already established in the town as a jeweller and general dealer before the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), followed by Pincus family members, Myer (Michael) and Aaron.

The Winburg Hebrew Congregation was established around 1902 and ceased to exist in 1974. The first minister was Rev. L. Zylabow from 1904 and the last Rev. Friedman in 1943.
The foundation stone of the synagogue was laid in 1906. The synagogue was subsequently donated to the town council in 1976 and in 1980 was sold to a garage. The deed of transfer of the “erf” (lot) for the cemetery was dated 1900. The first tombstone was that of Woolf Matz in 1903.

From that time there was no full-time minister. From 1969 the three remaining families in Winburg arranged minyanim for the High Holy Days by inviting Jews from surrounding towns to join them. Mr. Percy Glaser led these services, and Mr. Alec Levin blew the shofar. The Winburg synagogue was opened in 1922 and sold in 1979.
In 1982 there were 18 graves in the Jewish cemetery, which was part of the general cemetery of Winburg. While there were resident ministers, shechita (ritual slaughtering) and cheder classes were held in town. The Winburg Jewish Ladies Benevolent Society was established in 1916 and a Young Israel Society around 1918.

Jews of the town were mainly general dealers, livestock dealers with two wool speculators, a produce and grain agent and a theatre owner.