City's Melting Pot Seen in its Sacred Spaces

February 21, 2007

Author: Lucille Davie


A TIN temple, a fortress-like building in overcrowded and rundown Hillbrow and a lovely church in old Ferreirasdorp are among the many places of worship in the multi-religious city of Johannesburg.

They show how many different cultures made up the early community of the mining town, and how it was tolerant of the varied communities. Each was able to find a space to put up a simple structure, call together their congregants and practise their religion.

Although the 2001 Census indicates that South Africa is still overwhelmingly Christian, at 75 percent, almost every religion is represented and practised in Johannesburg, reflecting the diverse nature of the almost four million people who live in the sprawling metropolis.

This is the sixth in a series of articles on Johannesburg's splendid places of worship.

Temple Israel, Hillbrow, 1936 Temple Israel was built in 1936 in Paul Nel Street in Hillbrow when the suburb still consisted of houses and the Jewish community in the suburb consisted of about 800 worshippers, a few of whom still live there and in neighbouring Berea and Yeoville.