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History of the Fund  Click to print this page (black text on white background) 

SELIG and his wife SARAH FEIGE SAFFER (born Koppel), lived in the town of KELM in Russia, with their family of thirteen children. However, the economic conditions in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century were far from prosperous, and many people began to emigrate to Africa and America where it was heard that conditions were much easier. In general, the Jews of Lithuania went to Africa, and those of Poland to America. The Saffer family decided to begin emigrating to South Africa after the Boer War here with the establishment of the Rand Gold Mines.

The first of the family to leave Kelm for South Africa was LEAH, the eldest daughter, together with her husband JOSEPH RABINOWITZ. They arrived in Cape Town on the 16th December 1903 on board the "Goyle Castle", and stayed there for 18 months, during which time Joseph worked in Cape Town. They then decided to move to Germiston until 1912 when they moved to Doornfontein, and then to a house in Gordon Road, Bertrams. Joseph continued the same business in Pritchard Street and in July 1920, established himself in the Hide & Skin business.

Selig & Sarah Saffer


A few years after Leah and Joseph had moved to Germiston, MAX SAFFER, a brother, arrived alone in 1908. He moved in to live and work with Leah and Joseph in Germiston, and on the 30th December 1910 another brother, PHILIP, arrived on the "Gaika Castle". He joined the small family in Germiston, and worked there with Joseph and Max. On the 16th September 1913, Max lost his life as a result of an unfortunate accident when some dynamite exploded while he was handling a primus.

In the meantime, towards the end of 1911, another sister, RACHEL, arrived with their Brother-in-law MORRIS (MAISHE) ROSENGARTEN, Rachel stayed with the family in Germiston, and Maishe went to settle in Johannesburg, where he also started a Bottle-and-Bag business. He then bought a house in Doornfontein and sent paper to his wife FRUMA and three children in Kelm for their emigration. However, Fruma decided to remain at home a little longer where she wished to spend a last European summer and Yom Tov with her parents. Unfortunately the papers expired and she only arrived seven years later because World War I broke out and emigration was impossible.

TANHOLM (DANNY) SAFFER, arrived in Cape Town on the "Galway Castle" in December 1913, having been brought out by his brother Philip, immediately after Max had lost his life. Tanholm lived and worked with Philip in Germiston. After a time Philip went to join Joseph Rabinowitz in the Bottle-and-Bag business in Pritchard Street where he remained after Joseph had left to open his Hide and Skin business. Philip later took his brother LEONARD in with him for a time.

During the 1914 - 1918 World War, the rest of the family had to remain in Kelm and it was some time before contact was possible between the families in Russia and South Africa.

Two years after peace was declared, ISIDORE SAFFER, together with his sister SOPHIA, came to Cape Town on the "Britian" on the 22nd December, 1920. Sophia lived in Germiston and went to a school in Johannesburg. Isidore went to stay with his sister Leah and brother-in-law, Joseph, in Gordon Road, and took private lessons with an English tutor. After working in various businesses until 1922, he established the firm of Saffer Bros, in Market Street, Johannesburg.

Two weeks after Isidore and Sophia arrived in South Africa, LEONARD SAFFER arrived on board the "Clune" on 30th December 1920. He too, went to school in Johannesburg, and later joined his brother Philip in the Pritchard Street business for a time.

Eventually on the 8th January 1921, FRUMA ROSENGARTEN (born Saffer), arrived with her three children, Bernard, Joseph and Hilda, on the "Llanstephen Castle" and immediately joined her husband Maishe in Johannesburg. They were fortunate in finding a well-established home and the children immediately began to attend school in Johannesburg.

Another sister, CHANA, was next to arrive with her husband ADOLPH (AVROM) STEINBERG, on the 28th May, 1921 and they lived in Germiston with the rest of the family. Adolph worked as a Watchmaker and later moved to Vryheid, Volksrust, Heidelberg and then Springs, where he established a Jewellery and Watchmaking business. Unfortunately health reasons forced them to abandon the business, and they and their children returned to live in Germiston.

The last of the family - the Parents, SELIG, and SARAH FEIGE SAFFER, and their daughters MALKA (Milly), IDA, and BEILA with her husband ISAAC MILNER, arrived in South Africa on the 30th July 1921 on board the "Britian". They were met in Cape Town by Tanholm, who brought them all to the house in Germiston and lived with their parents. Beila and Isaac also stayed there for 6 months while they established a Tearoom and Grocery shop in Wolhuter, Johannesburg. They later moved to live in Mayfair. Isaac then established himself in a steam press factory in Johannesburg.

From about 1920 when most of the Saffer family had settled down, marrying and establishing themselves in various businesses in the Transvaal, the economic recession forced certain members of the large family to ask for assistance from those who were better off. As the same members were continually approached for help, it was already felt at that time, that the brothers and sisters should one and all do their share in assisting those family members in need, and it will later be seen how this came about. Leah Rabinowitz, the eldest sister, being the so-called "pioneeress" had learnt the life in the new country the hard way, and her sisters were fortunate to have her invaluable advice and experience during her lifetime.

The parents' home in High Road, Germiston, became the venue for all the family gatherings, and each weekend would find the house full of grandchildren, whilst their fathers would be enjoying a game of cards. Grandmother Sarah Feige was always busy knitting for her numerous grandchildren, and always concerned for the welfare of the needy in her hometown of Kelm. She often made small collections from amongst her children and friends, to send something to those remembered "at home", especially to couples who were about to be married and who were short of money for a trousseau. Both she and her husband continued to live in the same house until their deaths. They left behind them an atmosphere of unity and "oneness" amongst their family which Sarah Feige had expressed a desire that they should always strive for.

After Selig Saffer's death, brother Leonard originated the idea that all members of the family should group their finances so that when help was required by any one of them, this would come from one source. For various reasons, he did not pursue the idea. However, in 1938, Joseph Rabinowitz called a meeting of the family for the purpose of taking proper steps to establish a Committee for a Fund in memory of their late Parents on a formal basis. These were the initial "stepping stones" in the development of the SELIG AND SARAH SAFFER FAMILY FUND. They agreed that the entire family should meet once each month for the purpose of a social and financial gathering, and that each year, a General Meeting be held on the anniversary of the establishment of the Fund, i.e. on the 28th APRIL 1938.

The Fund Founders


The Fund continues today with monthly meetings held at different family members' homes, an Annual General Meeting on the 28th April each year, and many other social events such as an annual picnic, Succoth and Purim parties. Family members in South Africa continue to contribute monthly to the Fund and assistance is provided to members in need.

The capital and investments that began with the 1938 SAFFER FAMILY INVESTMENTS LIMITED venture survive to this day. Originally established to provide loan finance to members of the family wishing to purchase motor cars, equipment for their businesses, houses, etc; the Fund's finance committee meets regularly to disperse monies to family members in need in addition to caring for the day to day needs of the Fund.

Many members have emigrated to Israel, America, Canada, Australia and England and communication is maintained through the minutes of the monthly meetings and the newly formed online Family Tree website.

In October of 2008, the Fund celebrated its Platinum Anniversary with a Gala Dinner attended by over 80 families.

Copyright © The Sarah & Selig Saffer Family Fund 1938 - 2020