SA Jewish Rootsbank

The South African Jewish Database

Jewish Migration and Genealogy

Our intention is to create a comprehensive database of records and information relating to Jewish immigration to South Africa

The thinking behind the inception of the Jewish Migration and Genealogy Project is twofold:

  1. to map the entire history of Jewish migration to South Africa with the aim of providing authoritative and definitive data for the Discovery Centre at the South African Jewish Museum (SAJM).
  2. To integrate the genealogical data in multi-disciplinary research initiatives under the auspices of the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre at the University of Cape Town.

The primary aim of the project is to research the estimated 15,000 core families who migrated to Southern Africa between 1850-1950 from England, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus.

In broad terms the research will focus on the locations where the families originated, patterns of migration to South Africa, where families first settled, communities they established, growth of families, and subsequent movements and emigration. As such we are looking at aspects such as passenger arrival lists, naturalization lists, community records, records of marriages, births and deaths, family trees, etc.

The centre is under the umbrella of the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town and will also have a public access section located at the South African Jewish Museum

There are number of people who have contributed their time and knowledge to the content of this site. We thank everybody who has shared their work, their time and their love for history and culture with us for this purpose.

The lists have been compiled from various sources. A number of the lists are updated on a regular basis. We are working to improve the site and make it more useful. If you come across any errors in the data, please let us know. We hope you find the site interesting and enjoyable.

Please note that the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies based at the University of Cape Town does not have personal documents such as birth, death, and naturalisation records. The only records relating to the Rootsbank that we hold are passenger arrivals registers dated 1924-1929 and digital copies of shipping manifests dated 1890-1930. Contact if you want copies from the passenger arrivals registers.

Due to Covid and limited access to the archive, all requests for scans will be delayed and may only be possible in 2021.