Aubrey & Lucille Groll

From:   South Africa
ARRIVED:   1967


Aubrey and Lucille both grew up Jewish in South Africa, but in many respects their experiences of Yiddishkeit were quite different. The son of Orthodox Eastern European parents, Aubrey grew up in a kosher household that took religion very seriously, even if his parents, who owned a small business, had to work Friday evenings in order to make ends meet. Lucille, on the other hand, was the daughter of German immigrants to South Africa who belonged to a Reform synagogue; as a result, she was less familiar with the nuances of kashrut. After meeting Lucille, Aubrey’s mother made several phone calls to verify that her future daughter-in-law was, in fact, Jewish.

Lucille tells a story related to her lack of familiarity with kashrut that illustrates several aspects of Jewish life under apartheid South Africa. When Aubrey was fourteen years old, his family employed a servant of the same age who went on to work for the family for decades. Years later, when Lucille was staying with Aubrey’s family, the servant, despite being non-Jewish, would inquire whether Lucille would be giving her child meat or milk that night and would then proceed to put out the food along with the appropriate plates. Immediately after doing so, he would tell Lucille not to touch anything until he returned in the morning lest she inadvertently violate kashrut!

Aubrey and Lucille left South Africa in 1965, ending up in Kingston after a two-year stay in Birmingham, Alabama. Aubrey became one of the first Jewish academics to teach at Queen’s University while Lucille found interesting jobs in social work, ending her career at Kingston General Hospital. Initially, they had some difficulty integrating into the local Jewish community, but the situation improved as they slowly became more integrated into the Jewish community and more Jewish academics settled in Kingston. Aubrey and Lucille have four children and are the proud grandparents of ten grandchildren. Aubrey passed away in February, 2018.