by Kathrine Garrun
Kathrine Garrun looks at the role that community archives -- including digital archives -- play in telling the story of South African Jewish life.
ON Sunday, 18 April 2021, a devastating fire on Table Mountain spread rapidly to the University of Cape Town (UCT), and soon ignited the roof of the historic Jagger Reading Room, engulfing the treasured African Studies Library. The fire resulted in irreparable loss of historical collections. Although also situated on upper campus of UCT, and perilously close to the flames, the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies, and its archival store, was untouched by the fire.
Such a loss would have been unimaginable. Our collections -- personal papers, congregational and organisational records, oral histories, and photographic materials -- tell the story of South African Jewish life. They not only connect South African Jews to their past but are crucial repositories for any future research on the community and South African Jewry.
A community of collectors