The Zambian Jewish community is affiliated with the African Jewish Congress (AJC), which is based in South Africa and advocates on behalf of the small and scattered communities of sub-Sahara Africa. It works to ensure that the Jewish community of Zambia has international representation, including within the WJC, despite the small size of its population. Between the country’s dwindling Jewish population and lack of central communal organs, there is little in the way of organized Jewish life in Zambia.There is also no local rabbi – the AJC’s “travelling rabbi,” Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, serves as the de-facto rabbi of the community. Kosher food in Zambia is very scarce.
This page covers the story of the Zambian Jewish Community which has been extensively researched and published in three books – “An African Trading Empire” by Hugh Macmillan, “Zion in Africa” by Hugh Macmillan and Frank Shapiro and as well as “Haven in Africa” by Frank Shapiro. For a detailed review and background on the Zambian Jewish Community through these books – click here.
To read an excerpt of the book “An African Trading Empire” click here. With thanks to Edwin Wulfsohn for agreeing to share this material with ZJC.
There is no active Jewish community in Zambia and the Lusaka Synagogue was sold several years ago.
Thanks also to Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft for several of the recent pictures from Zambia shown below.
There is a small Jewish Museum in Livingstone and you can see some images from that in a gallery below.
Other communities existed in Livingstone, Ndola and Kitwe as well Mazabuka but are no longer.
Recent photographs of the visit to Zambia of Edwin Wulfsohn, his sons and Rabbi Moshe Silberhalft in 2022.
Railway & Gateway Jewish Museum
The Railway Museum in Livingstone exhibits examples of Zambia’s railway heritage, ranging from historic steam locomotives and vintage coaches to the tiniest railway memorabilia. You can climb aboard many of the trains and carriages. Some are a little unkept these days and the information about the trains themselves is a little scarce. But it is worth a visit if you have a couple of hours to spare. On the same site is also the Jewish museum which provides an insight into Livingstone’s Jewish community who settled here in the 1890s via South Africa after fleeing persecution from Lithuania. See the website for more details.
VISIT TO ZAMBIA BY DAVID AND HILARY ZETLER
We had wanted to tour Zimbabwe but the unstable conditions in the country put us off. Four years ago we went to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, but that was a day trip from Katima Mulilu in Namibia.
We settled on the nearest, Zambia, partly out of fascination, having seen tourists on the Zambian side, hanging over the Victoria Falls.
We flew to Livingstone, where we took our turn to hang over the falls, which was the highlight of our trip.
On the way back from the falls we visited the Railway museum (editor: see reference above) and the Jewish museum, situated in the same location, on the outskirts of Livingstone. The Jewish museum was opened in 2013 and has been put together very well and is extremely interesting. It covers the first Jews to settle in the country, the trying conditions, the communities in the Copperbelt and of course Livingstone and Lusaka. We were there in October which is very hot and not a popular tourist month, and from the visitors’ book it appeared as if only one or two couples visited these museums each day.
To read the full report – click here