Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Sandton, affectionately known as the Sandton Shul, came into existence as a result of a group of young married couples, living mainly in Parkmore, who, in 1968, approached the United Hebrew Congregation, to build a Nursery School for them.
The Sandown Hebrew Congregation (later to become the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Sandton) held its first Friday night services in the dining room of the Jewish Guild Country Club, which existed for many years opposite our existing shul, in Rivonia Road. (The Jewish Guild no longer exists)
Although children services were provided from the very beginning, and they were well attended, it was a long time before there was a regular Saturday morning Minyan.
Some Facts you may find interesting:
– The first Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Services took place in the lounge of the Jewish Guild Club House
– The Aron Kodesh was provided by a certain Mr Jack Stoch, who worked for a furniture company which specialized in manufacturing Bedroom Cupboards
– The curtain for the Aron Kodesh was hand-stitched by the wives of the Committee Members
– The first Sefer Torah was donated by the Lipshitz family who had been members of the Vrede Congregation, which had been dissolved at that time.
– On Kol Nidre night, the Shul Committee turned out in Black Tie and Evening Suits â€“ Tradition
– The Congregations first Barmitzvah was that of Mr Brian Hurwitz, whose family was one of the early settlers in Rivonia. (Brian and his two sons, attend Shul every shabbos, still today)
– Enthusiasm and guidance for the establishment of Jewish roots in this area of then â€˜farmlandâ€™, was provided by the late Chief -Rabbi Casper, as well as the President and Council of the United Hebrew Congregation, which ensured that the Sandton Hebrew Congregation went from strength to strength.
The early â€˜Sandtonâ€™ pioneers considered themselves the â€˜Lost Tribeâ€™ but it soon became evident that this lost tribe was gaining popularity, and the lounge at the Jewish Guild became too small. A Marquee was set up to accommodate this â€˜tentedâ€™ people, until in 1972, the present property was purchased and a building fund was set up to build a structure that later became the Sandton Shul.
Some other interesting facts:
The Nursery School was established at the Jewish Guild under the supervision of Mrs Becky Joffe, with a total of 15 children, in March 1970
A Cheder was opened in the classrooms of the Sandown Primary School, long before the addition of King David Sandton, to the King David Schools.
The dream of the original members was realized when a 4 and a half acre property was purchased (the current site) and Rabbi Suchard was appointed the Spiritual Leader of the Congregation. This was in 1973.
The evolution of the Sandton Community was a pioneering piece of work that has benefited, and continues to benefit, literally, thousands of Jews.
A Brief Chronology
– 1968 â€“ Sandown Hebrew Congregation established for â€˜The Lost Tribeâ€™ , Jewish families living North of Johannesburg
– March 1969 â€“ name was changed to Sandown Synagogue Centre
– Nursery School started in March 1970 at the Jewish Guild, moving to the current Shul property at a later stage.
-1972 â€“ Purchase of Present Property
– 1973 â€“ Rabbi Suchard appointed Spiritual Leader
– October 1975 â€“ a merger took place with Beth Hamedrash Hagadol and BHH Sandton was established
– 1976 â€“ Members of the community embarked on a project to build a building that would become the Sandton Shul (People hesitated since they thought it may be better to convert Rabbi Suchards house into a Shul)
– The â€˜oldâ€™ Shul was built and since the building of the current Shul, has been converted into our function Hall, under the auspices of Stan and Pete.
– January 1982 â€“ King David Sandton joined the family of King David on the property of the Sandton Shul, before moving to itâ€™s own property in Woodmead Springs.
– January 1999 â€“ official opening of the New Sandton Shul as it stands today.
Source: BHH Sandton 25th Anniversary Brochure