Oudtshoorn is the most surprising Litvak shtetl of them all!
In the isolated and arid Klein Karoo in the Cape Province of South Africa, 2000 Lithuanian Jews went to find their fortunes by raising ostiches and trading in their feathers. Fin-de-siecle Europe required the beautiful feathers for hats and boas, and Oudtshoorn became a boom town - the world's ostrich capital!
Among those who made their way out to the veld was Solomon Gillis. There he raised a family of ten children in what had become a vibrant Jewish community. But shortly after the coming of World War I, fashion changed, the ostrich industry collapsed and the community dispersed.
Jerusalem of South Africa
Oudtshoorn - Home
Oudtshoorn - The Ostrich Gillises
Municipal Coat of Arms
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