Zimbabwe and Zambian Jewish Community histories

Zimbabwe and Zambia have small Jewish communities that have a long history in those countries. The first Jewish immigrants arrived in Zimbabwe and Zambia, then known as Southern and Northern Rhodesia, in the late 19th century, attracted by economic opportunities and a relatively peaceful and stable political climate. The community initially consisted mostly of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, but over time it has also included Sephardic Jews (in Zimbabwe) and Jews of other backgrounds.

Throughout the 20th century, the Jewish community in Zimbabwe and Zambia played a prominent role in the country’s economic and cultural life. Many Jews were involved in trade, agriculture, and other businesses, and they also made important contributions to education, healthcare, and other areas of public service. The communities maintained a number of synagogues and other communal institutions, and were actively involved in charitable work, both within Zimbabwe, Zambia and internationally.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the Jewish communities in Zimbabwe and Zambia faced a number of challenges, including economic stagnation, political instability, and increasing antisemitism, particularly in Zimbabwe. Despite these challenges, the community has remained committed to preserving its rich cultural heritage and contributing to the development of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Today, the Jewish communities are very small but important part of the country’s diverse cultural tapestries.

For links to other historical documents and articles see below or via the main menu above.

This section will evolve over time but gives an idea of the other historical resources we plan to post. If you have any material in textual format, photos or any other digital medium please let us know. Write email to the editor  

There have been several books written on the history of the communities of which some of the most prominent are “Majuta” by Dr Barry A Kosmin published in (1980 – Mambo Press), The Goldbergs of Leigh Ranch by W E Arnold (1980 – Books of Zimbabwe), The Moon can Wait –  Biography of Hon A E Abrahamson (2004 – Penguin) and others. Reference will be made separately to these books. Please send us information on any other books you are aware of.

In addition you can find a link to a 275-page manuscript of a previously unpublished manuscript by Eric Rosenthal called “Rhodesian Jewry and its Story”. The exact date of its writing is unclear but was probably the early 1960s. A brief background to the work is given by the Hon A E Abrahamson.

Check out the Shuls section of the website for further historical information on the communities which were published in various anniversary publications.

Go to the menu bar above for pages relating to the Zambia Jewish Community – the books published and for some details and images recording its history.

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