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Morris Alexander

Morris Alexander (1877 - 1946) was a lawyer and Cape parliamentarian. Alexander came from a German-Jewish family and studied at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He settled in Cape Town and founded the Jewish Board of Deputies for the Cape Colony in 1904, and in June 1907 he married Ruth Schechter, daughter of the Hebraist scholar Solomon Schechter. They had a son and two daughters but divorced in 1935. He remarried that same year to Enid Asenath Baumberg of Sydney. Alexander was a member of the Cape Parliament from 1908 until 1910, and the Union Parliament from 1910 until 1946. He was known as a Jewish community leader and campaigner for deprived groups of all races, although in time he became a follower of Jan Smuts and in 1931 he joined the South African Party. He was instrumental in lobbying for the recognition of Yiddish as a European language in 1906, which prevented South African authorities from stopping Jewish immigration to South Africa. Alexander was “an inveterate letter-writer, fifty letters a day being his minimum quota; the number sometimes swelled to one hundred letters, all written by hand” (Alexander 1968: 11).

For further information see:
Enid Alexander (1953) Morris Alexander: A Biography Cape Town: Juta
Israel Abrahams (1968) ‘Alexander, Morris’ in (ed) W.J. de Kock Dictionary of South African Biography¬† Vol I Pretoria: National Council for Social Research, pp. 10 - 11
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