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Authority record

Abe Mirvish

  • Person
  • 1872-1947

In 1908 Rabbi Moses Chaim Mirvish (1872-1947) and his family emigrated to Cape Town from Lithuania. He and his wife Seine Mirvish (nee Margolis) had 7 children – Jacob Mirvish, Sophie Anziska (nee Mirvish), Dr Louis Mirvish, Naomi Aronson (nee Mirvish), Dr Israel Mirvish, Abe Mirvish and Ethel Helman (nee Mirvish). Rabbi Mirvish was the first fully qualified rabbi in the Cape Colony and served as the minister of the Cape Town Orthodox Hebrew Congregation (Beth Hamedrach HaChodesh) situated at the Constitution Street Synagogue, District Six.

In 1939 the community moved to the newly built Vredehoek Synagogue. Rabbi Mirvish played an important part in the activities of Jewish communal life in Cape Town, founding many of its organisations such as the Beth Din in the Cape and he served as the Av Beth Din for many years. He was chairman of the United Hebrew Schools in the Cape. He was widely known through his writings and contributed to many journals. He wrote two important books which were compilations of his sermons, essays, homiletics, Biblical commentaries, and Halachic Responsa.

On 17 August 1947, Rabbi Mirvish collapsed and died on the steps of the Vredehoek Synagogue after officiating at a wedding. Some months after his death, the Cape Town City Council renamed the street alongside the shul Rabbi Mirvish Avenue. [Source: Biography Rabbi Moses Chaim Mirvish (1872-1947). Cecil Helman Brave New World Remembering Cape Town’ s pioneer Rabbi. Juan-Paul Burke 2017, Jewish Life.].

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