Orolowitz Family

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Orolowitz Family

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This collection was donated to the Kaplan Centre by Cyril Orolowitz (1933-2006) in October 2003. Cyril Orolowitz was born in Paarl in the Western Cape. His parents, Louise and Solly Orolowitz, came to South Africa as immigrants from Eastern Europe. This large collection is the product of Cyril’s attempt to compile a family tree for his large extended family. Cyril’s family is very typical of the eastern European Jewish families that make up eighty percent of the Jewish community in South Africa. His father’s family immigrated to South Africa at the turn of the nineteenth century, at a time when eastern European Jewish immigration was at its peak. One of the earliest arrivals, the trooper, Joseph Rabie, was killed in the South African War in 1901. Cyril Orolowitz’s mother, who was orphaned in the Ukraine in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, immigrated to South Africa after being refused entry to the United States due to the Immigration Quota. The collection contains photographs, identity documents, memorabilia, research files, correspondence, including a collection of early 19th century Jewish postcards from eastern Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as video and audiotapes of typical Jewish celebrations - weddings, a bris (circumcision), a barmitzvah, chazones (cantorial singing), as well as of Cyril’s trips to Lithuania to search for the roots of his family. The collection also contains records of a distant family relative, Ben Moreell (1892-1978), a much decorated Admiral in the United State Navy, who is buried in Arlington Cemetery in Washington. Moreell is a descendant from the first marriage of Cyril Orolowitz’s great great great grandmother. While Moreell’s family converted to Christianity in the United States, ironically his grandfather, Judah Loeb Sossnitz, was a noted rabbinic scholar, who is documented in the Jewish Encyclopaedia. All the information about the family tree was passed on to Rael Kamionsky, who today maintains and keeps it up to date. He can be contacted at: 021-794-3184.


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