The Jewish connection to Durban goes back to the very beginning of the city’s establishment. One of the founders of Port Natal, Durban’s original name, was the famed trader and explorer Nathaniel Isaacs, who came as a youth in 1825. Other important Durban pioneers included Benjamin Norden, Jonas Bergtheil and Daniel de Pass. The city’s first Jewish congregation was established in 1883, followed by the first synagogue a year later.
The community is today served by two Orthodox and one Progressive congregation. The Durban Jewish Club, the only institution of its kind in the Republic, has played a major role in the community’s development. The Council for KwaZulu-Natal Jewry is a coordinating body and also functions as the provincial office of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. Zionist activity is directed by the KwaZulu-Natal Zionist Council. Other important communal organisations include the Union of Jewish Women, WIZO, the Durban Holocaust Centre and the Beth Shalom Jewish Aged Home.
The Jewish population of Durban in 2012 was estimated at around 2000 souls. Diminishing numbers led to the closure of the city’s Jewish day school, Carmel College, in 1997. However, at the beginning of 2012, a new Jewish school – the Umhlanga Jewish Day School – opened its doors with 43 pupils from Grade 0 to Grade 5. The school forms part of the Izinga Project, which also features a Kollel, shul and community centre.
Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry (CKNJ)
Postal Address: PO Box 10797 Marine Parade 4056
Telephone: + 27 31 335 4452
Fax: +27 31 337 9600