Jacob Hyman Spilkin was born in Latvia on 20th September 1904 and came to South Africa in 1912, aged 8.  He lived in Port Elizabeth until he died at the age of 94 on 24 June 1999.  He was married to Bess Spilkin (nee Berger) for 59 years and they had three children: Norman (who died aged 11), Sidney and Irma who both still live in South Africa.  Jacob Spilkin was an extraordinary man.  He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Port Elizabeth where his tombstone inscription reads ‘ A brilliant student of the law.  A man of immense strength and virtue ‘.  This six part interview was filmed on an SVHS video camera in October 1992 by his grand-daughter Lisa Chait and filmmaker Sean O’Sullivan.

Part 1: Jacob’s childhood in Latvia and immigrating to South Africa as a young boy. Part 2: The Rhodes University years and meeting his wife Bess.

Part 3: A tragedy in the family and some unusual legal cases he defended. Part 4: Travelling the world defending black South Africans; a lifelong association with the Bantu Church of Christ; founding Wedgwood Golf Club & bowls.

Part 5: Bess, the children; ‘Meshuggenah Mabel’ the housekeeper; Isaac the groundsman; a fateful trip overseas; practising law until the age of 84 and Bess’s death. Part 6: Getting on in years;  visiting family in Cape Town; exercising; reading; living alone; his medical condition and passing the time in old age.

7 Responses to Jacob Spilkin (Oupa Jay) 88 – A Man of Strength and Virtue

  1. Francois Smith September 2, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Remarkable! Living history, and history as told by common folk. This provides anyone with the opportunity to preseve memories in the best way possible, as well as the opportunity to write history. Well done, Lisa!

  2. Jon Spilkin June 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi there . Can we get a detail of your family tree. So my daughter can fill in some gaps in hers
    Thanks Jon

  3. Jenna Spilkin June 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Oh my goodness! That was SO incredibly special to see! Brought tears to my eyes to see my great grandfather Jay and his incredible wife Bess. Pictures I had never seen before.. WOW!!
    I miss them both terribly!

  4. GARY SPILKIN August 31, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Hi I am Gary Spilkin, I lived in Johannesberg and moved to Melbourne 10 years ago, my gramdpa was Samual, do you have the family tree so I can get my tree up to date, it would be appreciated

    regards

    Gary

  5. Ronen Sever November 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Can anyone provide information about Eli Spilkin and his family. Thank you.

    • Lisa December 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Hi Ronen. Best to email me the info about uncle Eli and I will see how I can add it in. Best Lisa. lisachait@gmail.com

  6. michael spilkin March 12, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Never seen most of these pics before, so special!

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