Joyce Fiedelman’s recent visit to Smithfield was no casual stopover on a tourist’s itinerary. Now resident in Israel, Joyce seen here in conversation with Barbara von Ahlefeldt, had brought her children to visit the village where her family had lived for 88 years and where she was born.
The visit was a huge success. Joyce was deeply moved at returning to a much changed Smithfield where she had spent her early years. As for the children, after having heard so many stories about Smithfield for so long, their visit to a place which had figured so prominently in the history of their family enabled them to finally understand an important part of their background. (The family is seen here with Gregg Bauer and Deon Victor of Bokmakierie, where they stayed while in Smithfield).
Joyce’s grandparents, Jacob and Frieda Segall came to Smithfield in 1928 from Breipaal with their three children.
"My grandfather was a smouse (itinerant trader) who also traded in skins," says Joyce. "He established a general store where Nick and Zandre’s Saamkom is located today. Actually today the exterior of the shop looks very much the way it did when my father owned it.
"My father, Hymie, grew up and went to school in Smithfield, matriculating from the Smithfield High school in 1935. After he finished school, he joined his father in the business. In 1945 my father married my mom, Rose and my brother, two sisters and I were all born in Smithfield where we lived until 1966 when my parents moved to Pretoria."
"We have now returned home after a most memorable trip to South Africa especially Smithfield. My children commented that after so many years of hearing about Smithfield it was amazing how the stories came alive during their visit".
Members of the Segall family were not the only Jews to play a role in the history of Smithfield. Whether as professionals or in business their contribution was significant. In fact Jewish smouses were among the first colonists to arrive in the Cape in the 17th Century, many of them having escaped from the oppression they suffered in Russia and elsewhere in Europe.
As the colonists moved into the interior, opportunities opened up for the smouses to develop other types of businesses, as well as for the handful of Jewish doctors and lawyers from Germany to emerge as among the leaders of new communities – Smithfield among them.