South African Jewish Museum

South African Jewish Museum Entrance
Discover the early roots of the vibrant South African Jewish community in this historical building, visit the Cape Town Holocaust Centre on the first floor and watch the emotional documentary “Nelson Mandela: A Righteous Man”.


  • Historical building of Cape Town
  • Hosts different exhibitions
  • Cape Town Holocaust Centre emotional experience
  • Includes Nelson Mandela: A Righteous Man documentary viewing


Take a journey back to the early roots of the South African Jewish community with interactive displays, audio-visual presentations and rare and fascinating artefacts. Marvel at the modern architecture of the museum itself, the contents of which mirror the fusion between the past and present. Take note of the museum’s notable drawbridge feature, connecting the Old Synagogue to the new museum building, which symbolises a ship’s gangway along which immigrants would have been expected to walk. Don’t miss an opportunity to view the world’s finest collections of Netsuke – carved, miniature Japanese sculptures originating from the 17th Century. After an informative afternoon, enjoy a break at the museum’s Café Riteve restaurant.


Founded by Mendel Kaplan, the South African Jewish Museum was officially opened by former president Nelson Mandela in 2000. Though still relatively new, the museum has deep historic roots including the distinction of being housed in South Africa’s first synagogue, built in 1863. The museum is intended to be a dutiful record of the history of South Africa’s Jewish community. This includes the community’s historical roots in Lithuania and elsewhere, its instrumental role in the evolution of South African democracy and noteworthy contributions to contemporary society.

Practical information

Day Open Close
Monday 10:00 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 17:00
Thursday 10:00 17:00
Friday 10:00 14:00
Saturday Closed
Sunday 10:00 17:00

Closed Saturday and Jewish Holidays

Photo ID required for all visitors

Phone: +27 (0)21 465 1546

South African Jewish Museum

Advice for visitors

The museum hosts temporary and permanent exhibitions, while the Cape Town Holocaust Centre located upstairs is an insightful and emotional experience. Guests are encouraged to watch the fascinating 25-minute documentary Nelson Mandela: A Righteous Man, which is permanently on show at the museum. The documentary is covered in the ticket price and is an appropriate closure to a day at the museum.

Did you know

One of the museums major attractions is the building itself. The museum is a feat of architectural design which incorporates the Old Synagogue, the first synagogue built in South Africa in 1863, into a modern complex. Created with glass, wood and steel elements, the modern complex consists of the Great Synagogue, built in 1905, the Albow Centre, the Gitlin Library, Café Riteve, the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Israel Abrahams hall.

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