SA Organisations

Herber House remembered, 50 years on

  • SAJR - Call back the past
The first Jewish boarding facility in SA was opened in the Forties by the SA Jewish Board of Education and named after Harry Herber, the founder of Greatermans. Herber House‘s hostel was an imposing castle-like structure on the Kopje in South Street, Yeoville – opposite the now- iconic Ponte building. The hostel provided boarding for Jewish school pupils from SA country districts and other African nations during the 1940's, 50's and 60's before being closed. At a recent reunion – see picture of attendees – R1,600 was collected for Hatzolah.
by STUART BUXBAUM | Jun 24, 2015

A Herbert House reunion breakfast was held in a Johannesburg restaurant on Tuesday, June 16, where some of the previous boarders and their spouses and partners, who were once resident at Herber House Hostel, came together to reminisce. Herbert House was closed more than 50 years ago.

Herber House FULLThis hostel was the first boarding facility of the SA Jewish Board of Education and was named after Harry Herber, founder of Greatermans Stores and one time president of the Board of Education.

RIGHT: Thumbnail of picture below story
The main building of the hostel, an imposing castle-like structure in South Street, Yeoville, was located just off the old Harrow Road (now Joe Slovo), and across the way of that now iconic Johannesburg landmark, the Ponte building.

The hostel provided boarding for Jewish learners from the country districts of South Africa and indeed from beyond its borders, in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

Towards the mid-sixties, the number of boarders declined and the hostel became unsustainable. It closed its doors at the end of 1964. A hostel on the grounds of King David High School, Linksfield, Sachs House – also long since closed as a hostel - opened its doors in 1966.

Today, the previous boarders of Herber House are spread across the globe, but a sizable number are still resident in Johannesburg.

To mark the occasion, a donation of R1,600 was made by those attending the breakfast, to Hatzolah.

Herber House Full1BACK ROW STANDING: Brian Perelman, Stuart Buxbaum, Paul Solomon, Jeff Dermick, Michael Katz, and Leon Klugman.

MIDDLE ROW STANDING: Joel Levin, Sidney Mograbi, Maurice Buisansky, Harold Mograbi, and Irwin Bartkunsky.

SITTING: Charlotte Brinkman, David Alperin, Allan Cohen, Laura Alperin, and Philip Bartkunsky.

NOT IN PICTURE: Barry Fisman and Max Miller.

Many thanks to Stuart Buxbaum for this lovely Call-back-the-past item. C'mon, users, there must be a mountain of similar material out there - SHARE yours with the community - send to [email protected]


  1. 4 Clifford Bestall 11 Sep
    I am very keen to get photos of Harry Herber and his son Norman Herber for a film I'm making on Raymond Ackerman. Could you help point me in the right direction please.

    Kind regards,

  2. 3 Basil Lewis 22 Jul
    Trying for email address of Hilda or Charlotte then Brinkman
    can anybody help?
    Basil Lewis
  3. 2 Adele Friedland née coini 07 Sep
    Hi all,
    yes, it is a long time since I left Herbert house but was there from 1948 - 1958.   I remember the Mograbi family and Bartkunsky but my memories are not happy ones sadly.   My king david ones were no better.    I had curly black hair and used to sing     Does anybody else remember me?   I now live in London and have for the past 42 years.    Have two daughters and 3 grandchildren and still can manage to sing much of the shul services and chugging.   
  4. 1 Mervyn Guy Slowik 06 Oct
    This is Mervyn Slowik

    For years I've searched for a connection or link with Herber House and now at last have found it

    I recognize of course every name beneath that photograph and with a little imagination can still put the original face to those photographs!

    My dad dumped me at Herber House at age 4 and I was there until it's closing day.

    I truly don't have any unhappy memories. I remember Gilbert delivering breakfast to the tables with the eggs so oily they often slid off the plate, Elliot the cook, really wonderful people, Millie, a tyrant of a woman who’d make sure we were clean and dressed for school, the definition of a bitch, I think the deepest part of hell wouldn’t even have accepted her; I remember playing soccer in the front of the building and king stingers most afternoons, nonstop pillow fights, and making cappuccino for the older guys by grinding coffee seemingly for hours on end to earn a few pennies. I remember drinking tin after tin of condensed milk that visiting parents would bring and craving more. And all those Tarzan and Lassie come home movies on Saturday nights with the projector routinely breaking down and having to guess how the movie would've ended, and eventually finding out a few weeks later when it was shown again (and again). I was 12 when Herber House closed down. My path in life would have been entirely different if it had not closed down and I had remained at the same school. 

    All you folk were older than me, senior to me, other than Allan. I do remember much of Stuart and some of you others as well. Allan was my age and not infrequently invited me to his home in Vanderbylpark when we were allowed out for weekends and I remember good times.

    But when I see my daughter bringing up her beautiful kids, and I see such wonderful family life from so close up, then I see what I missed as a child, no recall whatsoever of anything resembling a family. But fortunately, I married a lovely lady, still married after some 40 years, and was able to bring up an awesome family

    Please do make contact. My email is
    [email protected]


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