Bet Menorah Home House of Study House of Meeting House of Prayer Bet Menorah Home

Progressive Judaism
The Progressive Jewish movement in Southern Africa
Bet Menorah HOME

The Progressive Movement in the Disapora, South Africa and Pretoria

With Jewish emancipation in Europe in the nineteenth century came a movement for religious reform in which ritual and practice could be modernized in line with contemporary thought. The first Reform synagogue was founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1818. This progressive movement quickly spread throughout the continent and over to the USA where it took root from 1824, and has grown to be the biggest branch of Judaism in that country with just over 1 million adherents.

The first Reform, or Progressive, congregation in South Africa was established in Johannesburg in 1933, the first rabbi being Moses Cyrus Weiler . Seventeen years later, in August1950, the Pretoria Progressive Jewish Congregation was founded, the initial services being held at the Sons of England Hall in South Street, Hatfield.

Ground was acquired at 315 Bronkhorst Street, New Muckleneuk, and the building of a synagogue, Temple Menorah, was completed in 1953, the architects being Mr Ivan (Chips) Sive and Mr Aarie Aronson. The stone-laying ceremony was held on Sunday 7 October that year, and the official opening and consecration of Temple Menorah took place at the induction service for the Reverend Nathaniel Jacobs on 11 August 1957. The congregation reached a peak in the mid 1970s when there was a membership of 225 families.

The Temple Menorah Nursery School, a dream realized by Mrs Rose Jacobs together with Mrs Eileen Grusiner, was established on 5 June 1960 and catered for over 30 years both for the children of congregants, and also for those of the community as a whole.