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    ZJC Project Presentation
    In this video Dave Bloom describes in a webinar conference called Community History Online (CHOL) held 11th August 2021, the work done to preserve the story of the ZJC.. Learn More...

    A brief history of the ZJC
    Watch this recording of a presentation given to a Synagogue in Toronto on 1st August 2021 - on the history of the Zimbabwe and Zambian Jewish Communities.. Learn More...

    Geolocation of ZJC homes in Harare and Bulawayo
    A new project has been launched to map the homes of former ZJC homes in Harare and Bulawayo. Please use the link on the page to an online form to add your own details.. Learn More...

    Latest Warren Hills tombstones - 28th June 2021
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    ZJC Reunion 13th June 2021
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    An African Trading Empire
    Dec 13 2019 - A new page on the site with text from the first chapter of this fascinating book recording the story of the Susman brothers and Wulfsohn who created a farming and commercial empire in Southern Africa.. Learn More...

    Additional Ketuboth added
    December 2016 - ZJC has gratefully received from Colin Gordon some missing Ketuboth from the period 1956-1959 which have now been added to the website. . Learn More...

    Audio Visual biographies
    December 2016 - ZJC is pleased to publish a number of audio visual biographies of former members of the community.. Learn More...

    Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation committees
    July 6, 2016 - We have added two comprehensive documents prepared by David Gelfand and listing a) the numerous committees of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation going back to 1923. b) a list of all the Presidents of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation going back to 1894.. Learn More...

    Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation - full copy
    June 2016 - Pleased to advise that Paul Bernstein has scanned the full Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation Centenary magazine published in 1994. It is now available on the ZJC website. Many many thanks to Paul for all his efforts and contribution in digitizing this material and preserving it for us all. There is a summary of the contents of each section. See the material here.. Learn More...

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    9th September 2005

    Here are some examples of current prices in Zimbabwe : 

    loaf of bread - $8 000 

    Zim litre of milk - $21,000 

    Zim litre of petrol - $50,000

    The exchange rate on the parallel market is about $45,000  Zim to $1 USD.

    It may even be higher now. 2 years ago,  a chicken could be bought for about $4,000 Zim. Today it costs more than $120,000.

    People with pensions if they could still collect them would be receiving a few thousand dollars a month. As you can see, that isn't even enough for a loaf of bread.

    There are those that sold their business thinking they could live off the interest for the rest of their lives. Today with the amount of money they received for those businesses they can barely fill up their cars with petrol.

    Read the report below from JTA...published worldwide including the Jerusalem Post . Also read the ZJC website blog at http://zimjewishcommunity.blogspot.com/  including a recent eyewitness account at Eyewitness in Zimbabwe


    Tiny Jewish community perseveres
    despite Zimbabwe’s economic woes

    By Moira Schneider

    CAPE TOWN, July 27 (JTA) -- Hylton Solomon, a Zimbabwean Jewish leader, says that he has never felt threatened by the turbulent goings-on in the country, though he did admit to feeling a little bit uneasy during the government’s recent Operation Restore Order, which saw hundreds of thousands of street vendors and others being driven out of urban areas and rendered homeless in midwinter.

    It was like Kristallnacht. You cannot describe it in any other way, says Solomon, the president of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation.

    Zimbabwes mostly elderly Jewish community has dwindled through emigration to around 300 individuals from a high of 7,500 in the early 1970s. Despite its much diminished size and the rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation in the country, Jewish life, though curtailed, carries on.

    Despite Solomons wariness, he says he hasnt yet reached his trigger point. Maybe Im an idiot for staying here. In Germany, all the pessimists survived and all the optimists died, he adds.

    But his three children are all studying in South Africa.

    And I don’t have to tell you what that costs. This is where I earn my bread, he says.

    Solomon also refuses to criticize the country, taking a swipe at those who do. This place has been good to us, and I get upset when people leave here and live in mansions in Clifton or Fresnaye and condemn this place. Whatever they ve got there came from here, he says angrily, referring to affluent areas of neighboring South Africa.

    Maybe things did turn sour. But this country’s been fantastic to Jews over the years. Apart from the fact that the shul burnt down and we’re not quite sure what happened there, Solomon says, in reference to the fire that destroyed the Bulawayo synagogue on Yom Kippur Eve in 2003, the cemetery’s never been desecrated. There’s never been any anti-Semitism and swastikas painted on walls.

    Despite food shortages, he says they don’t skimp on anything for the 35 residents of Savyon Lodge, the only Jewish home for the aged in the country, situated in Bulawayo. Because there are so few people who earn a salary sufficient to enable them to contribute to its upkeep, Solomon says the community tries to solicit donations, including from former Zimbabweans.

    Daily synagogue services, as well as Jewish lessons, are held in the city, and the Jewish holidays are celebrated even though we sometimes battle for a minyan, he says.

    Shelley Lasker, a teacher at Bulawayo’s Carmel School, a Jewish day school, agrees that the Jewish community does not in any way feel physically threatened but says that with the rapidly devaluing currency, economic security is a problem.

    When a country is in a state of economic collapse and people’s pensions have been directly affected by the situation here, then, yes, they do feel insecure. People who thought that they’d provided well for their old age find that that is no longer the case.

    Though a mere five of the schools 200 children are Jewish, they still celebrate Shabbat every Friday. We light candles and have kitke when we can get it, she said, using the term used in southern Africa for challah.

    One result of the emigration that has taken place from Zimbabwe over the years is that the Jewish community is older.

    One of the saddest things is that these old people are not part of a greater community anymore by virtue of the fact that there isnt a greater community, says Lasker.

    They don’t have access to children. They rarely see their families because their children and grandchildren have left the country. So it’s very lonely for them. Of course Jewish life is affected. You try and have a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration, she said, referring to the holiday that commemorates Israeli Independence Day, and you’ve got to try and pole-vault them into the bus when they can barely walk, never mind do the hora.

    Lasker describes the country’s only rabbi, Rabbi Nathan Asmoucha of the Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation, as an incredible man.

    He has come to a tiny community of mainly old people – I think his most active role has been in holding funerals – yet he remains positive, loving and giving.

    Solomon adds that the rabbi has made an appeal to the community to assist those displaced by Operation Restore Order, saying that they cannot as Jews just stand by. So we are going to raise some money, buy some blankets and distribute them.

    The two synagogues – Ashkenazi and Sephardi — in the capital city, Harare, have combined forces for Shabbat and holiday services in order to ensure a minyan. While the oil crisis affects synagogue attendance, Peter Sternberg, the president of the Zimbabwe Jewish Board of Deputies, says the main problem is that there are fewer and fewer left to attend.

    A shochet, or ritual slaughterer, comes to Zimbabwe from South Africa twice a year, but with so few animals available — a result of the disruption of farm production caused by government-sponsored farm invasions — that there is rationing of red meat.

    Sternberg expresses gratitude for the tangible, as well as moral, support that Zimbabwe’s Jews receive from the African Jewish Congress, an initiative of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, which sees to the needs of the small and far-flung Jewish communities of sub-Saharan Africa. He said that Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, the spiritual leader of the AJC, arranges for someone to officiate on the High Holy Days, in addition to providing special prayer books.

    They also send up the South African Jewish Report on Friday, Sternberg said, referring to the newspaper. Without them, we would really be stuck, he says.


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