exploring the concerns of the south african Jewish community
Reflecting on the Jewish history of District Six, Craig Nudelman explores how this connection is understood and remembered by the Jewish community and broader South African society.
The Kaplan Centre's and South African Jewish Museum's 2012 exhibition on the Jews of District Six.
District Six is arguably one of the most challenging physical spaces confronting Cape Town, if not South Africa. From its creation as an official ‘district’ of Cape Town in 1867, housing freed slaves, immigrants, merchants, labourers and artisans, to the largely empty and contested space it is today, this area is a potent reminder of the injustices of apartheid. Because of the forced removals of black and Coloured South Africans, which took place between 1966 and 1976, District Six has been ingrained in our minds as a symbol of apartheid and segregation. Yet, rarely featured in our national conversations is the Jewish connection to District Six. A once vibrant and multiethnic community, District Six was home to thousands of Jews from the 1880s to their departure in the mid-1940s and -1950s. District Six is arguably also emblematic of how Jews ‘became’ white in the South African context. Considering our long association with District Six can we also ‘claim’ District Six as ‘ours’?
"Have South African Jewry, whose wealth and position, which was aided by their racial status, mostly forgotten their humble roots in District Six? "