Jewish Cape Town 5779, A Handful Of Sand

Jewish Cape Town 5779, is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who – not knowing the languages spoken in South Africa and hardships that lay ahead of them – set out with courage, determination and fortitude, and through the generations, built a community that is widely respected in the Jewish world.
Jewish Cape Town
Jewish Cape Town
In this celebration of Jewish life at the tip of the African continent, businessman and philanthropist, Tony Raphaely, has curated stunning individual and group portraits that collectively represent a snapshot in time of Cape Town’s vibrant Jewish community.
The book is a unique compendium of nearly 300 photographs, taken in 2019 (or the Jewish year 5779), to showcase – and record for posterity – the people whose professions and services have enriched not only the community from which they come, but also the greater society in which they live.
The images, taken by a team of 17 photographers, provide a fascinating chronicle of all stages of life and across a wide range of occupations and pursuits. Some are famous personalities, like Zapiro, Albie Sachs, Lisa Chait and Nik Rabinowitz; others are less distinguished but no less revered for their contribution to life in the city.
As in many other cities outside Europe, Cape Town’s Jewry has been forged in the Diaspora.  A Handful of Sand  distils this past into an enduring testament of hope and resilience – it is a record not only of generations current and past, but also for generations to come.
Greg Alexander

I have known Greg since the day he was born. His parents and my parents are good friends, a friendship that has spanned more than half a century. Rabbi Greg as he is known, is an amazing presence of a person. In fact, when I was in Shul in London the congregants were so high in their praise of him. I was really pleased to see that he had been included in this collection.

Greg Alexander

Henry Rosenbaum

Talya, Henry’s daughter, and I are like sisters. We met at youth camp in our teens. In fact, Greg was there as well. Despite Talya then living in Cape Town and me in Johannesburg, our friendship grew closer and closer over the years. I now live in Cape Town and she is in London. I call her mother ‘mom’ and these are my second parents.

Henry Rosenbaum

My impressions:

The photographs in this book really capture the diverse life of the Jews in Cape Town. A great coffee table book, gift, or memory of a loved one.

Publishing information:
ISBN 9781775847229
Format Paperback
Published January 2020

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review by Penguin Random House South Africa. I was not required to write a positive review. This post is in line with my blogging policy.

Inspiration published on Lavender and Lime March 1:

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9 thoughts on “Jewish Cape Town 5779, A Handful Of Sand

  1. How wonderful that you and Talya have had such a long friendship. And what a wonderful tribute this book is to the Jewish history of Cape Town.

  2. Very interesting review. I’m always interested in the history of Jewish communities throughout the world, and have visited a number of historic sites in places like Italy where Jews had a very long history, though most of those communities are no longer active. Of course the main South African Jewish person I’m aware of is Nadine Gordimer.

    best… mae at

    1. We are going to Italy this year specifically to visit an Italian town that still has an active Synagogue. We will be doing the same in Croatia as well 🙂

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