Gertie Awerbuch

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Gertie Awerbuch (September 28, 1928 - November 2015) was born in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, was an amateur stage actress and playwright.

Early Life

Gertie Awerbach grew up in a boarding school which her Russian mother had set up to help Russian and Polish Jews assimilate into South African society. She matriculated with seven distinctions at Commercial College and afterwards became a secretary with the Grinaker shipping company. She later became a very successful real estate agent. For 17 years she was cookery editor of the Citizen newspaper and her column was published once a week. She was well-known for her tasty traditional Jewish recipes.

Contribution to South African Theatre

She devised a revue in the early 1960s, together with her then husband, Lithuanian-born Morris Awerbuch (who she married in 1951) and Miriam Lopert, called What Was, Was! This riotous show about life in the Jewish community , starring Charles Stodel, June Hern and Michael Fisher, was staged at the Jewish Guild and the Alexander Theatre in 1965. The play was a humorous look about being Jewish in South Africa and was written in "Yinglish", a mixture of Yiddish and English. It was so popular that they did two more in the same year.

After being contacted by Joan Brickhill, she wrote Mock Wedding and many of the songs after Solly Krok and Abe Krok approached Brickhill to do a charity show. Another writing success was Take My Word, a musical which opened at the Brian Brooke Theatre in Johannesburg in 1965. The highlight of her acting career was appearing opposite British actor David Koseff in Sideman and Son.


Tucker, 1997. 204.

"Obituary: Gertie Awerbuch, Doyenne of the Stage and the Kitchen" by Chris Barron, Sunday Times 15 November, 2015.

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