What Happened to Mr. Teperson?


Mr. Teperson (left) and other Jewish Leaders in Southern Rhodesia sometime between 1959-64

What Happened to Mr. Teperson?

You couldn’t miss the aroma wafting out of  Mr. Teperson’s Midlands Bakery on Que Que’s Main Street as loaves of bread cooled on racks. Chocolate éclairs, sugar buns, Neapolitans and much, much more were displayed behind glass cases. Mr. Teperson catered for everybody. He personally tasted every batch of everything he made. Mrs. Teperson on the other hand was slim and minded the till.  She knew what every customer wanted and had it bagged and rung up by the time the customer reached the counter.

What Happened to Mr. Teperson?

Mr. Teperson had come early to Que Que.  This was his promised land. He had done much to bring about the building of the Jewish Community Hall, where the community could meet for the High Holy Days, when a minyan of ten men could be assembled.

As Passover approached, Mrs. Teperson did the annual spring clean, ridding the house of all leavening and leavened food.  Every nook and cranny was cleaned, from the kitchen pantry to the closets. The silverware was boiled, the everyday dishes locked away and the Passover dishes brought out.

On the evening before the week-long Passover observance began, Mr. Teperson and his children searched by candlelight for scraps of leaven for burning.

The appearance of dry Matzos in place of delectable bread at the table symbolized the Jews passage from slavery and soft leavened bread.  Matzos is a hard bread, a reminder that the Jews left the sluggish, lush Nile for the empty desert and independence.

On the first night of Passover, all the families assembled before sundown at the Hall for the service.  The men in suits and ties, topped with a fedora or yarmulke, their sons in school uniform with blazers, school ties and school hats sat on the left of the hall. The woman in smart suits with gloves and matching bags, along with their daughters took their seats on the right.  The men were catching up on business, the women catching up on gossip.

Mr. Teperson was slated to conduct the service.  But time ticked on without a sign of him.  Without a minyan, the service could not be held.   “Vots heppened to him?” Mrs. Teperson fumed.

“We’d better call, voddo you tink?” said a restless member.

“Perhaps an accident?”

There was no reply from the house.

Mrs. Teperson’s anger turned to concern. “Vot about the bakery?”

Mr. Teperson hastily picked up the phone., “Ya?”

“Vot are you doing?  Hav you forgotten te service?”

“Ah!  The time she goes so fast.  Easter.  Big special order hot cross buns.”

As the bread rises so my soul.

Photo source: see Zimbabwe’s Jewish History http://www.zjc.org.il/showpage.php  Yetta Ehrman Harnik reports Rev Ehrman served the Jewish community 1959-64 before returning to Israel.  Que Que’s Jewish Community Hall opened in 195 2  which I wrote about in my blog Chanukah in Africa.  If you have any photos or information to share please do.