Zimbabwe's Jews: A shtetl in Africa

A Zimbabwean Jew, I grew up in a bubble within a bubble – a member of the tightly knit Jewish community within the larger white community.

January 10, 2018 15:52
The Shaare Shalom synagogue in Harare

The Shaare Shalom synagogue in Harare. (photo credit: DAVE BLOOM)

DANIEL MONTAGUE Kisch, a young mining prospector seeking his fortune, reached the northern parts of the Tati River in 1868 and is recorded as being the first Jew to reach lands under the control of the infamous Ndebele King Lobengula. This area was later to become part of the British colony of Rhodesia.

Many other Jews came to Southern Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries seeking refuge from the harsh life and antisemitism of Eastern Europe. They were inspired by the rush to gold and diamond fields and other economic opportunities that had sprung up in these African territories.


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