*** Please note: This site has not been substantially updated since 2001. Thank you to everyone who has sent me information about other African-Jewish communities and/or observances. I plan to some day revise the site to add new information, especially about the Igbo of Nigeria.***
Did you know there are
Jewish communities all over Africa?
Western Jews do not
always imagine that people of different skin
colors and from distant cultures could be Jewish,
but the truth is that there are currently
indigenous communities observing traditional
Jewish rituals all over the continent of Africa.
True, most Jewish communities in Africa bear
little resemblance to Jewish communities in
Europe or North America they look
different, speak different languages, embrace
music and culture with which many Western Jews
are unfamiliar yet these communities have
religious practices that everyone who is Jewish
would recognize. Each community that practices
Judaism in Africa has come to the religion in a
different way. Some believe themselves to be
descendents of the "lost Tribes of Israel,"
others are members of communities that have been
Jewish for two millennia, while other groups have
accepted Judaism in recent years because it is
the religion that most resonates with their lives.
The one factor that unifies these communities is
that they are proud to call themselves Jewish,
and would like the international Jewish community
to accept them as Jews.
In the fall of 1999 journalist and musician
Jay Sand visited the Jewish communities in Ghana
and Uganda, and in 2000 he visited
groups in Southern and Northern Africa. The Jews of Africa program will
introduce you to the fascinating, complex and
often eye-opening world of African Jewry through
his multifaceted, multimedia "Jews of Africa"
This web site will give you a taste of what
"The Jews of Africa" presentation will
offer you and the members of your organization.
The photos on this site are from the House of
Israel Community in Ghana and the Abayudaya of
Uganda (and a few of Timbuktu, Mali, an area with
a rich Jewish history). By the end of this summer
the site will also include Jays images from
Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. (Click on each image for a
What? African Jews?? -- the history of African Jewry
[Recently I (Jay) have been working with Bryan Schwartz of Scattered Among the Nations on a photography book project called Jews of Color: In Color!. Check out the Scattered Among the Nations web site for updates and more information.]
(would you like to listen to some african-jewish music
as you're looking through the site? go here first.)
Contact Jay Sand at JayPSand@yahoo.com
with any questions.