Melanie Nathan – March 01, 2011
CAPE TOWN- I have just arrived in Cape Town and found this information to be so timely- here to ask President Zuma to take a leadership role in Decriminalization homosexuality in Africa, and with interest note South African Jewish activists who risked life and limb to end apartheid, for the very constitution that South Africa now boasts. However what good will it do if some freedoms are not safeguarded through the spearhead of leadership on freedom and equality for all in Africa, including sexual minorities.
The following stamps have been simultaneously released into the Liberian, Gambian and Sierra Leone Post Offices today – March 1, 2011.
A website: www.legendaryheroesofafrica.com lists and describes the heroes and will serve as a teaching aide. Stamps may be purchased at the website: http://www.cyberstamps.com . It could take up to two weeks before the stamps would be available for sale outside the countries of issue.
The wording featured on the stamps is:
In the anti Apartheid South African Liberation struggle, it was estimated that Jews were over represented by 2,500 percent in their proportion to the governing population. This stamp issue acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices made by Jews to the liberation of their African brethren, and these stamps recognize some of the most significant contributors to global humanity in the 20th Century.
Notice that the Postal Authorities of each country placed a “Bezrat Hashem” in Hebrew letters on each stamp, as well as the Star of David. Jerusalem Post has posted an article at.
Helen Suzman (nee Gavronsky) was born in the South African mining town of Germiston on 7 November 1917 to Samuel and Frieda Gavronsky, both immigrants from Lithuania who had come to South Africa to escape the restrictions imposed on Jews.
Eli Weinberg was born in 1908 in the port of Libau, in Latvia on the Baltic Sea. He experienced the First World War and the October Revolution of 1917 as a child, and this led to his socialist political development. During World War I, he was separated from his family.
Esther Barsel (born October 17, 1924, in Raguva, Lithuania; died October 6, 2008, in Johannesburg) was a South African politician and long-standing member of the South African Communist Party (SACP). She was a member of both her local African National Congress branch and the SACP’s Johannesburg Central Branch..
Hymie Barsel was born on September 11, 1920 in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, South Africa to Faiga and Moishe Barsel, both of Litvak heritage. He was raised in a Zionist oriented home. He suffered from epilepsy which was ill understood at that time, eventually receiving treatment from Dr. Max Joffe, also a Zionist.
Yetta Barenblatt was born on 24 September 1913, in Dublin, Ireland, to Basna and Solomon Malamed of Lithuanian origin. In 1925, a friend encouraged her to come to South Africa with the promise of employment. However, due to her circumstances, further education was not possible and Barenblatt was forced to seek employment at a retail store.
Ray Alexander Simons née Alexandrowich was born on 12 January 1913 in Latvia. While at school, she displayed little fear in challenging authorities. Her independent thinking suggested she pursue a career in medicine but she soon took up politics. When she was about 13, she became active in the underground Latvian Communist Party.
Baruch Hirson, named after his late grandfather, was born on 10 December 1921 at Doomfontein near Johannesburg in the Transvaal. His father was an electrician. His parents, Joseph and Lily Hirson, were Jews who had immigrated to South Africa to evade the pogroms, persecution and discrimination Jews were subjected to in the old Romanov Empire.
Norma Kitson was one of a generation of Jewish activists, who committed themselves to the struggle against racial tyranny in South Africa. The drive of these South African Jews was to give witness against racism and social injustice, even at great personal cost. Norma Kitson’s autobiography, Where Sixpence Lives (1986), uniquely fuses the personal and the political.
Ruth First was born on May 4, 1925 to Jewish immigrants Julius and Matilda First. Julius, a furniture manufacturer, was born in Latvia and came to South Africa in 1906. He and his wife were founder members of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) or South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1921 . Ruth and her brother, Ronald, grew up in a household in which intense political debate between people of all races and classes was always present.
Hilda Bernstein was born in London in 1915. Her father was Simeon Schwartz from Odessa, Ukraine. He relocated to England in 1901 where he became a Bolshevik and represented the new USSR in UK for a short while in 1920′s. He returned to the USSR when recalled in 1925, and died in the 1930′s without ever having returned to the UK.
Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein was born in Durban, in 1920; the youngest of four children of European émigrés. Orphaned at eight years old, he was raised by relatives. These early disruptions to his family life were compounded when he was sent to finish his education at a boys’ boarding school. Hilton College, a private school, that was the South African equivalent of Eton or Harrow.
At an early age, Ronald Segal proclaimed himself a Socialist, saying he did not want to be a millionaire. But he had no choice. His father was a co-owner of Ackerman’s, a giant cheap clothing chain in South Africa. At their home on the slopes of Cape Town’s Lion’s Head, his Zionist parents entertained visiting dignitaries. At age eight, Ronald read “Gone With the Wind” and a biography of Disraeli.
This endeavor is indeed an extraordinary way to acknowledge the barely recognized fact that South African Jews played an integral part, participating on many levels in the liberation of South Africa from Apartheid. What makes this phenomenal is the ratio of Jews in South Africa, a small number, in relation to other ‘white’ activists in the anti-apartheid cause.
The fact that these separate countries are all participating in this program of recognition is mind boggling, especially that South Africa is not one amongst them. It is a courageous tribute to heroes, to those who risked so greatly in an unfriendly atmosphere of Apartheid. One can only hope that the South African authorities would find a way to honor all of those who played a key role in the demise of apartheid.
In their memory and the message via the forum at Cape Town pride -