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Malmesbury is one of the friendly communities based in the rolling wheatlands of South Africa’s west coast, and in an inconspicuous place – across the road from a McDonalds – is an old synagogue which is a charming display of the way of life of the community of days gone by. Initially, the area had a vibrant Jewish community but this fell away as they went to the big cities and by early 1992 the synagogue was no longer in use. One of the community members bought the synagogue on condition it be used by the community.

And so this wonderful display has come about, where aspects of the Jewish community are displayed side by side with the Dutch Reformed Church, where you can see for yourself what people used on farms, or feel relieved you don’t have to be inspected by doctors or dentists of the past (the medical tools don’t look like fun!). You can see the pots and pans and butter churns, the tins of tea or old Marmite bottles, the toys (including a miniature tea set with a dressed up pig teapot)… The list goes on.

You could spend hours here – and it costs only R10 for adults and R5 for children. Best of all, you can buy a set of 6 Malmesbury wine glasses for only R30. The museum appears to be open mornings only but there are phone numbers on the door and I am sure those people would be happy to extend Malmesbury hospitality at other hours – when we were there the curator kindly let us wander around way beyond her official hours.

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