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Legends & Legacies: A Story of a Community



Legends & Legacies: A Story of a Community is an eight-part documentary television series that tells of the history and contribution of the South African Jewish community.

In the series, Alan Swerdlow takes us on an entertaining journey through the history of South African Jewish settlers, and the contributions they’ve made to our country. It creates an awareness of Jewish people and their involvement in the socio-economic and political development of South Africa. It takes us right back to the 15th century when the Portuguese seafarers first rounded the southern African coast, through to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when the Dutch and British East India Companies landed in Cape Town, to what South African Jews are accomplishing today.

The ancestors of South Africa’s Jewish community escaped pogroms and came to the country as exiles, bereft of belongings, and with only a little knowledge of the local languages. But they possessed an indomitable spirit.

Follow us as we take you on their journey. Since the time of those first Jewish pioneers, Jewish immigrants and their descendants have left their mark on South Africa in many ways. There have been doctors, lawyers, rabbis and parliamentarians, hawkers and diamond-diggers, industrialists and Randlords, renegade Boer War commandos and Nobel prize-winners, social workers, artists and activists. All of these people are part of the rich tapestry of Jewish life at the southern tip of Africa.

Legends & Legacies is the most comprehensive account of the South African Jewish community ever attempted on screen. It is the proud story of the achievements, aspirations, setbacks and recoveries, as told by South African Jewish leaders of industry and science, religion and art, who are the last of a dwindling community.