Alexander, Morris

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ALEXANDER, MORRIS (1877–1946), South African lawyer and politician. Alexander went to South Africa from East Prussia as a child. He practiced law in Cape Town and soon became involved in politics and in Jewish communal affairs. He played a leading part in the formation of the Cape Jewish Board of Deputies (1904) and was its president and most active figure until its merger with the South African Board of Deputies (1912), thereafter serving as vice president of the United South African Board and chairman of its Cape Committee until 1933. As a Jewish spokesman in matters of immigration and naturalization, Alexander was largely instrumental in having Yiddish recognized as a European language in the immigrant's literacy test (1906). He was elected to Parliament in 1908 and for 35 years was known as a champion of the Indian and Colored communities against discriminatory laws. He was an active Zionist and was a lay preacher to the Cape Town New Congregation. His first wife, Ruth, was the daughter of Solomon *Schechter. His second wife, Enid, wrote his biography Morris Alexander (1957). The large collection of Alexander's papers – documents covering his entire life – are housed in the University of Cape Town.


G. Saron and L. Hotz, Jews in South Africa (1955), index; G. Saron, Morris Alexander (1966).