Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

African Jewry: A Microcosm of the Jewish Diaspora.

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all


There has been an endless fascination with the prophecy by Isaiah the Prophet that the Lord will “recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” Isaiah (11:11)
Eldad HaDani and other writers during the Middle Ages traveled widely and were prone to attribute the origins of every unexpected population group to one of the Lost Tribes. Eldad wrote about Black Jews on the other side of the river Cush (often translated as Ethiopia) as well as accounts of Jews in Persia and in the land of the Khazars.

Jewish Communities of Africa

Notable Black Jews

  • Rabbi Natan Nkosinathi Gamedze was born an African prince to the Royal Gamedze clan of the Kingdom of Swaziland in 1963. As a youth, Rabbi Gamedze was educated in private schools in both Swaziland and London, where his father held the position of Swaziland Ambassador to the United Kingdom and EEC countries.
  • Makeda (10th century BCE), the Queen of Sheba, had a son, Menilek I, by king Solomon of Jerusalem, thus establishing the "Solomonic" dynasty of Ethiopia that ruled, with a few interruptions, until the deposition of Emperor Haile Selassie (q.v.) in 1974.
  • Menelik I (Ibn El-Hakim) El-Hakim da Ethiopia, Beit Shlomo originally named Ebna la-Hakim, "Son of the Wise"), first Jewish Emperor of Ethiopia, is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, Queen of Sheba and ruled around 950 BC, according to traditional sources. Tradition credits him with bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia, following a visit to Jerusalem to meet his father upon reaching adulthood.
  • Benjamin of Tudela (from northern Spain), set out to catalog Jewish communities along a circuitous route to the holy land.
  • Al-Idrisi, the famous geographer born in Ceuta, Spain in the 12th century wrote about Jewish Negroes in the western Sudan.
  • al-Kahina bint D̲j̲arāwa al-Zanāt a female Berber warlord who led the resistance against the Arab invaders of North Africa in the 680's and 690's, was a Jew of the Jarawa tribe.
  • Rabbi Joseph HaLevy, a competent linguist, was sent by the French Jewish community sent to investigate reports of Black Jews in Ethiopia, setting in motion a historic aliyah (immigration) that continues to this day.
  • Maimonides, Moshe Ben Maimon, (Rambam), 12th century Spanish-North African Talmudist, philosopher, and law codifier left Spain to Morocco, and settled in Fostat (Cairo) Egypt.
  • Abraham ibn Ezra, (Even Ezra) was a 12th century Spanish-North African Biblical commentator.
  • Rabbi Mordoche Aby Serour in the late 19th century traveled to Timbuktu several times as a not-too-successful trader in ostrich feathers and ivory according to Prof. Michel Abitbol at the Center for the Research of Moroccan Jewry in Israel.
  • Ismael Diadie Haidara, a historian from Timbuktu, has found old Hebrew texts among the city's historical records. He has also researched his own past and discovered that he is descended from the Moroccan Jewish traders of the Abana family. As he interviewed elders in the villages of his relatives, he has discovered that knowledge of the family's Jewish identity has been preserved, in secret, out of fear of persecution.
  • Rabbi Capers Funnye is a Jewish African American who is the head rabbi of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago, Illinois. He is also the first African-American member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, and is active in outreach the Beta Israel in Ethiopia and the Igbo Jews in Nigeria. Funnye is the first cousin once removed of Michelle Obama, the wife of 44th U.S. President Barack Obama.

The fascination with Black Jews, even among Christians, has never abated and in recent years has captured the imagination of university scholars who are attempting to unlock the secrets of origin and identity of African Jews in Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabawe, Uganda Cameroon, Mali' and South Africa.

Re-Emerging Documentary. Documentary Website , and Photo Gallery
In the film, Lieberman follows the journey of one young Nigerian, Shmuel, from Catholicism to Messianic Judaism to traditional Judaism. Shmuel becomes a leader in his community, and dreams of studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.


Nowhere in Africa (2001) "Nirgendwo in Afrika", DVD
Nowhere in Africa (Zeitgeist) wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Directed by Caroline Link, the movie is based on a novel—a thinly veiled memoir—by Stefanie Zweig about fleeing Germany, "the land of Goethe and Schiller," for Kenya in 1938. The German Jewish refugee family moves to and adjusts to a farm life in 1930s Kenya.

The Jewish Community of Kenya is unique, comprising Jewry from all corners of the earth, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, from countries as diverse as Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany, the UK, the U.S., Canada, Israel, Yemen, Iraq, India, Morocco, and South Africa—and native-born Kenyan Jews. The community is a microcosm of the Jewish Diaspora.

Jews in Kenya have never been numerous; nevertheless they have been remarkably influential in the development of the country.  To understand their role in Kenya, one must realize that during the colonial era, people in Kenya were officially classified as European, Asian, and African.

The Jews, all being of European origin, fell without question in the category of European. This, for better or worse, facilitated their integration. Many were secular Jews, and their nationality predominated over their religion-thus an English Jew was considered first and foremost an Englishman or woman, a Polish or Lithuanian Jew, certainly a European.

A relatively small emergent community of Black Jews has been forming in Laikipia District, Kenya, abandoning their Christian beliefs in exchange for Judaism. There are an estimated 5,000 of them at the present time. This group has connections to the Black Hebrews movement. Although at first Messianic, they concluded that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and are now waiting to be instructed in traditional Judaism.

Some of the younger children of this community have been sent to the Abayudaya schools in Uganda to be instructed in Judaism and other subjects. There are also some amongst the ethnic groups in Kenya that claim to be one of the lost tribes of Israel.

International Society for the Study of African Judaism (ISSAJ)

In 2009, Daniel Lis (University of Basel) and Edith Bruder (University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS) created the International Society for the Study of African Judaism (ISSAJ) to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research, discussion, and understanding of Jews of African origin.

A few of the topics presented at the first 2010 conference in London:

  • The Ethiopian Jews;
  • Lemba of South Africa, and their priestly clan,
  • Bhuba, who are the most likely to carry the Cohen Modal Haplotype (a genetic marker of the priestly class);
  • Igbo of Nigeria;
  • Hebrew Israelites of Dimona, Israel, and
  • Hebrew Israelites in Harlem in the 1930s.

Some researchers (e.g., Parfitt) drew conclusions from DNA testing; while others, such as Shalva Weil (Hebrew University), remain unimpressed with the significance of genetic testing.

Indeed, it is valid to wonder about the various criteria for Jewish identity:

  1. Practices and observances,
  2. Self-perception or self-definition, or the criteria of
  3. Halacha (Jewish law) — having a Jewish mother or a formal conversion.

(A complete list of the presenters, the 18 papers and two documentary films presented, and brief abstracts are available at; click on “Conferences.”)

Kulanu Org. Click link for full article.

"Sometimes we search for things in the most mysterious of places, things that may be close at hand or right in front of our eyes". Source




David king of Israel, living from approximately 1040 to 970 BCE, had at least one daughter and 22 sons.  King Solomon, David's son with Bathsheba, had 1,000 wives, plus a son with Makeda (Queen of Sheba) from Ethiopia. The descendants of the Davidic princes (exilarchs - nesi’im) fanned out across Egypt, Spain, Portugal and Italy to Europe. 

“Since it is 3,000-plus years since David, there is at least an 80 percent chance that any Jew is a direct descendant of King David,” says Yale University statistician Joseph Chang in a 1999 article in Advances in Applied Probability.

African Jews

  1. • Abayudaya (Uganda)
  2. • Africa: General, including Egypt.
  3. • Burundi
  4. • Cape Verde
  5. • Cameroon
  6. • Ethiopia
  7. • Ghana
  8. • Kenya
  9. • Lemba (of Zimbabwe)
  10. • Madagascar
  11. • Mozambique
  12. • Nigeria
  13. • Timbuktu (Mali)
  14. • Tutsi (Havila)
  15. • Uganda (see Abayudaya)
  16. • Zambia
  17. • Zimbabwe

These are scattered African groups with ancient Jewish roots, most who may not have maintained contact with the wider Jewish community, but who assert descent from ancient Israel or other connections to Judaism.


Groups who observe Jewish rituals, or rituals bearing recognizable resemblance to Judaism. Although there are a number of such groups, the majority of world Jewry recognize only the Beta Israel of Ethiopia as historically Jewish.


Groups such as the Lemba, many of whom practice Christianity but have preserved some rituals and customs believed to be Jewish in origin. This group has also been found to have genetic traits that other Jewish population groups possess, thereby bolstering their claims to Jewish ancestry.


The most ancient communities of African Jews known to the Western world are the Ethiopian Jews, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews of North and Middle Africa.

Largely unknown in the West until quite recently are communities of the African Jews such as the Lemba (Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Northern South Africa).

Some among the Igbo of Nigeria, the Annang/Efik/Ibibio of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea) claim descent from East Africa and Jews in Algeria and Jews in Tunisia and Jews in Morocco, Jews in Libya and Jews in Egypt Jewish communities.

SPANISH JEWS 7th century

In the seventh century, many Spanish Jews fled persecution under the Visigoths to North Africa, where they made their homes in the Byzantine-dominated cities along the Mediterranean coast. Some, however, moved further inland and actively proselytized among the Berber tribes.

A number of tribes, including the Jarawa, Uled Jari, and some tribes of the Daggatun people, converted to Judaism.

Ibn Khaldun reported that Dahia Al-kahina a female Berber warlord who led the resistance against the Arab invaders of North Africa in the 680's and 690's, was a Jew of the Jarawa tribe.

With the defeat of the Berber resistance, none of the Jewish tribes were initially forced to convert to Islam. Remnants of longstanding Jewish communities remain in Morocco, Tunisia and the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

There is a much-diminished but still vibrant community on the island of Djerba in Tunisia. Many Jews emigrated to North America in the early 20th century. Most other Jews emigrated to Israel, France and Spain, since 1948.


Sephardi Jews and Mizraḥi Jews living in North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan and Egypt.

The vast majority of them have emigrated, chiefly to Israel and France, with substantial numbers also emigrating to Brazil, Canada and the USA. Small but active communities remain in Morocco and Tunisia.


The South African Jews, who are mostly Ashkenazi Jews, descended mostly from pre-and post-Holocaust immigrant Lithuanian Jews. Although not all African Jews are religious, some of the practices found in African Jewish communities are Orthodox. See below for further details.


  • Beta Israel

In 1975, the Israeli government recognized the Beta Israel of Ethiopia as legally Jewish. Many who wanted to emigrate were air-lifted to Israel under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Significant immigration continues into the 21st century. Begin had obtained an official ruling from the Israeli Sephardi Chief Rabbi (or Rishon LeTzion) Ovadia Yosef that the Beta Israel were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. Rabbis believed they were probably descendants of the Tribe of Dan, as rabbinical responsa that discuss issues concerning them dated back hundreds of years.

Due to certain aspects of Jewish marital laws, Rabbi Yosef ruled that upon arrival in Israel, the Beta Israel had to undergo a pro forma conversion to Judaism. They had to declare their allegiance to a halachic way of life and the Jewish people, in conformity with practices followed by Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism. He did not demand the normal rigid requirements that the halacha imposes on potential gentile proselytes, (such as a brit milah or immersion in a mikveh). Few Ashkenazi rabbinic authorities consider the conversions to be actual conversions, not pro forma.

The practices of the Beta Israel differed significantly from those of other forms of Judaism. In Ethiopia, the Beta Israel community was for the most part isolated from the Talmud. They did, however, have their own oral law. In some cases there were practices similar to those of Karaite Judaism, and in others more similar to rabbinical Judaism.

In many instances their religious elders, or priestly, class known as kessim or qessotch, interpreted the Biblical Law of the Tanach in a way similar to the Rabbinite Jewish communities in other parts of the world. In that sense, the Beta Israel had a tradition analogous to that of the Talmud, although at times at variance with the practices and teachings of other Jewish communities.

Today, they are a community in flux. Some of the kessim accept the rabbinic/Talmudic tradition that is practiced by non-Ethiopian Orthodox Jews. Many of the younger generation of Ethiopian-Israelis have been educated in yeshivas and received rabbinical semikha. A certain segment of traditionalist kessim insist on maintaining their separate and distinct form of Judaism, as it had been practiced in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Many of the Ethiopian Jewish youth who have immigrated to Israel have either assimilated to the dominant form of Orthodox Judaism as practised in Israel, or to a secular lifestyle.

One significant difference is that the Beta Israel lacked the festivals of Purim and Hanukkah, probably because they branched off from the main body of Judaism before these non-Biblical holidays began to be commemorated. Today, most members of the Beta Israel community living in Israel do observe these holidays.

  • Beit Avraham

In Ethiopia the community known as Beit Avraham has some 50,000 members. This community also claims Jewish heritage. Several scholars think that they broke off from the Beta Israel community several centuries ago, hid their Jewish customs, and outwardly adopted Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.

Beit Avraham have traditionally been on the lower rungs of Ethiopian social life and have held occupations similar to those of the Beta Israel, such as crafts. Recently, the Beit Avraham community has made attempts to reach out to the world Jewish community. They formed the Ethiopian North Shewa Zionist Organization in an attempt to save their Jewish identity.

Another name of this group is Falashmura. Without reliable proof of Jewish ancestry, they are required to complete a formal conversion to be recognized by Israel or other Jewish communities as Jews and are considered converts.


  • Yibir

The Yibir (also spelled Yeber) are a tribe that lives in Somalia, eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Djibouti.

Though they have been Muslim for many centuries, they assert they are descendants of Hebrews who arrived in the Horn of Africa long before the arrival of Somali nomads, and the name Yibir itself means Hebrew.


  • Lemba

The Lemba are a Jewish people in southern Africa. Although they speak Bantu languages similar to their neighbours, they have specific religious practices similar to those in Judaism and other Semitic traditions. They also have a tradition of being a migrant people, with clues pointing to an origin from Yemeni Jews.

They have restrictions on intermarriage with non-Lemba. It is difficult for male non-Lemba to become part of the community.

A significant number of individuals carry a genetic signature on the Y chromosome known as the Cohen modal haplotype, indicative of a Semitic patrilineal ancestry.

Amongst Jews, this Y chromosome trait is particularly associated with the Kohanim or priests, a distinct subgroup of Israelites. It can also be found in other non-Jewish Y-DNA Haplogroup J populations across the Middle East and beyond.

Though the Lemba are descended from Jewish ancestors, they have not practised Judaism for many centuries. Although the vast majority of Lemba, like the eastern and western Jews who see no difficulties in claiming Jewish heritage but not practising the religion itself, do not see a contradiction in proclaiming their Hebrew heritage while practising Christianity or Islam. Lately, some have wanted to shift towards mainstream Judaism.


There is a substantial, mostly Ashkenazic Jewish community in South Africa. These Jews arrived mostly from Lithuania prior to World War II, though others have origins in Britain, Germany, and Eastern Europe.

To a lesser extent, Sephardic Jews, primarily originating from the Island of Rhodes also settled in sub-Saharan Africa, in territories such as the Belgian Congo.

Subsequently, members of these Jewish communities migrated to South Africa. Connected to them were the small European Jewish communities in Namibia (South West Africa), Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia), Lesotho (Basutuland), Swaziland, Botswana (Bechuanaland), Zaire (Belgian Congo, mostly Sephardim, Kenya, Malawi (Nyasaland), Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) all of which had synagogues and even formal Jewish schools usually based in the capitals of these countries. (See History of the Jews in South Africa.)


  • Bilad el-Sudan

According to the 17th century Tarikh al-Fattash and the Tarikh al-Sudan, several Jewish communities existed as parts of the Ghana, Mali, and later Songhay empires. One such community was formed by a group of Egyptian Jews, who allegedly traveled by way of the Sahel corridor through Chad into Mali.

Manuscript C of the Tarikh al-Fattash described a community called the Bani Israel that in 1402 existed in Tindirma, possessed 333 wells, and had seven princes as well as an army.

Another such community was that of the Zuwa ruler of Koukiya (located at the Niger river). His name was known only as Zuwa Alyaman, meaning "He comes from Yemen".

According to an isolated local legend, Zuwa Alyaman was a member of one of the Jewish communities transported from Yemen by Abyssinians in the 6th century CE after the defeat of Dhu Nuwas.

Zuwa Alyaman was said to have traveled into West Africa along with his brother. They established a community in Kukiya at the banks of the Niger River downstream from Gao. According to the Tarikh al-Sudan, after Zuwa Alyaman, there were 14 Zuwa rulers of Gao before the rise of Islam in in the second half of the eleventh century.

Other sources stated that other Jewish communities in the region arose from migrations from Morocco and Egypt, and later from Portugal.

Some communities were said to have been populated by certain Berber Jews, like a group of Tuareg known as Dawsahak or Iddao Ishaak ("children of Isaac"). They speak a language related to Songhay, live in northeast Mali in the region of Menaka and were formerly herders for Tuareg nobles. In addition, some migrated into the area away from Muslim rule in North Africa.


Documentary: Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria. Documentary Website , and Photo Gallery

In the film, Lieberman follows the journey of one young Nigerian, Shmuel, from Catholicism to Messianic Judaism to traditional Judaism. Shmuel becomes a leader in his community, and dreams of studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

  • Igbo Jews

The Igbo Jews of Nigeria are one of the components of the Igbo ethnic group. According to another hypotheses, they migrated from Syrian, Portuguese and Libyan Israelites into West Africa. Historical records show that this migration started around 740 C.E.

Certain Nigerian communities with Judaic practices have been receiving help from individual Israelis and American Jews who work in Nigeria, out-reach organizations like Kulanu, and African-American Jewish communities in America. Jews from outside Nigeria founded two synagogues in Nigeria, which are attended and maintained by Igbos.

Because no formal census has been taken in the region, the number of Igbos in Nigeria who identify as either Israelites or Jews is not known. There are currently 26 synagogues of various sizes. An estimated 30,000 Igbos were practicing some form of Judaism in 2008.

- The Igbos/Israel intercultural E-book

  • Akwa Ibom and Cross River

The Annnag, Efik and Oron and Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria have had ancient religious practices that strongly resembled some of the Jewish Torah. These include their traditional sacrifice of animals (rituals) by the presiding male of each village, or of a group of villages, for purification, especially during times of sickness.

According to Nair (1975), in early history of Nigeria, the Efik people were often referred to as Efik Eburutu. Eburutu being a term that came into being as a result of the curruption of the word "Hebrew", and Ututu.

Ututu being one of the early settlements of the Efik people in the coastal southeastern Nigeria. Hence, the Efik/Ibibio/Annang people were known in early history as being of Hebrews who settled in Ututu.

European missionaries arriving in their land in the early 15th century called their religious practices "traditional religion". However, they identify their religious practices and heritage with the Jews. These missionaries established the first schools (Hope Wadel in Calabar and Methodist Boys High School in Oron) in these regions.

They are believed to be members of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who left before the Babylonian captivity and migrated to the Efik/Oron/Ibibio/Annang land of Nigeria from Egypt via Ethiopia, Sudan and Cameroun. They have active synagogues in the area. Synagogue services (Shabbat Services) of this region of Nigeria can be watched online.

  • Cameroon

There are some who believe that a Jewish presence may have at one time existed in Cameroon via merchants who arrived from Egypt for trade.

According to some accounts these communities observed rituals such as separation of dairy and meat products as well as wearing tefillin. There are also claims that Jews migrated into Cameroon after being forced southward due to the Islamic conquests of North Africa.

The claims of a Jewish presence in Cameroon are made by Rabbi Yisrael Oriel. Rabbi Oriel, formerly Bodol Ngimbus-Ngimbus, was born into the Ba-Saa tribe. The word Ba-Saa, he said, is from the Hebrew for 'on a journey' and means blessing. Rabbi Oriel claims to be a Levite descended from Moses. Reportedly, Rabbi Oriel made aliya in 1988 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi and appointed rabbi to Nigerian Jews.

Rabbi Oriel claims that in 1920 there were 400,000 'Israelites' in Cameroon, but by 1962 the number had decreased to 167,000 due to conversions to Christianity and Islam. He admitted that these tribes had not been accepted halachically, although he claimed to prove their Jewish status from medieval rabbinic sources.

American actor Yaphet Kotto's father was a Cameroon Jew and Kotto himself maintains his Jewish identity.

  • Bankon

Bankon (Abaw,Abo, Bo, Bon) is a tribe related to Basaa and Rombi groups, located in the north of Douala city, Abo subdivision, Bonalea commune, in the Littoral region of Cameroon. The word Ban-Kon means "son of prince" in Assyrian, an Aramaic dialect.

In her works "The Negro-African Languages", the French scholar Lilias Homburger concluded that Bankon language is Kum. The word Kum means "arise" or "get up!"in Hebrew; the Assyrians called the House of Israel by the name of Kumri.


The largest influx of Jews to Africa came after the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Jews in Spain in 1492, and Portugal and Sicily soon afterward. Many of these Sephardic Jews settled in North Africa, Alexandria and Fostat (Cairo), Egypt.

  • São Tomé e Príncipe

Additionally, King Manuel I of Portugal exiled about 2,000 Jewish children to São Tomé and Príncipe around 1500. Most died, but in the early 17th century "the local bishop noted with disgust that there were still Jewish observances on the island and returned to Portugal because of his frustration with them."

Although Jewish practices faded over subsequent centuries, there are people in São Tomé and Príncipe who are aware of partial descent from this population. Similarly, a number of Portuguese ethnic Jews were exiled to Sao Tome after forced conversions to Roman Catholicism.

  • Mali

There are several thousand people of undoubted Jewish ancestry in Timbuktu, Mali. In the 14th century many Moors and Jews, fleeing persecution in Spain, migrated south to the Timbuktu area, at that time part of the Songhai Empire.

Among them was the Kehath (Ka'ti) family, descended from Ismael Jan Kot Al-yahudi of Scheida, Morocco. Sons of this prominent family founded three villages that still exist near Timbuktu—Kirshamba, Haybomo, and Kongougara.

In 1492, Askia Muhammed came to power in the previously tolerant region of Timbuktu and decreed that Jews must convert to Islam or leave; Judaism became illegal in Mali, as it did in Catholic Spain that same year.

As the historian Leo Africanus wrote in 1526: "The king (Askia) is a declared enemy of the Jews. He will not allow any to live in the city. If he hears it said that a Berber merchant frequents them or does business with them, he confiscates his goods."

- The Kehath family converted with the rest of the non-Muslim population.
- The Cohens, descended from the Moroccan Islamicized Jewish trader El-Hadj Abd-al-Salam al Kuhin, arrived in the Timbuktu area in the 18th century.
- The Abana family came in the first half of the 19th century.

  • Côte d'Ivoire/Ivory-Coast

Contrary to the idea that the Jewish community in Côte d'Ivoire/Ivory-Coast is extremely tiny, it should rather be said discreet or invisible. Those who did not want to stay invisible and assimilate have emigrated to nearby Ghana and have settled there. Otherwise, there's a congregation of about 300 members praying in a villa used as a synagogue called the Kabbalah Center. For lack of space the services are held in small groups. In the diaspora, the Jews from Ivory Coast are very active. For instance, they are in majority as African member of the FJN (Fraternite Judeo Noire).

  • Ghana

The House of Israel community of Sefwi Wiawso and Sefwi Sui in Western Ghana claim that their Sefwi ancestors are descendants of Jews who migrated south through Côte d'Ivoire. The continuous practice of Judaism in this community, however, dates back to only the early 1970s.

  • Uganda

The Abayudaya of Uganda are a group which has enthusiastically embraced Judaism in relatively recent times—their practice of the religion dates only from 1917.

Abayudaya: The Jews of Uganda features more than 80 color photographs by Richard Sobol, combined with recordings of traditional music by ethnomusicologist, Rabbi Jeffrey Summit.

  • Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Jewish Community was established with the first white colonists in the 1890s and at its peak in the early 1970s numbered some 7,500 people (80% of Ashkenazim descent) – split between communities in Salisbury and Bulawayo.
Smaller rural communities also existed for short periods in Que Que, Umtali and Gatooma.

HAPLOGROUP G2c - The Silk Road Gene

In human genetics, Haplogroup G2c (formerly G5) is a major Y chromosome haplogroup, and yet unique: It has a very high frequency in Ashkenazi Jews, and shows strong evidence of a very recent settlement in Europe.

Recently, G2c was discovered in an Egyptian and a Jordanian and have values very similar to the Lebanese G2c sample from Sicily--- and the common ancestor between the Jewish group and this lone Sicilian match up to the time Titus brought the Jews out of Judea.

This Jewish group could very well be Italkim Jews (Italian Jews); which would explain why it was never found amongst Sephardi Jews (those with origins in Spain or Portugal) and would explain its rather late arrival into Eastern Europe.

The TMRCA (time until most recent common ancestor) appears to be around 1100 CE for this close group of Ashkenazi Jews. It is rare outside of northern Europe but there is recent evidence that this haplogroup is also found in certain Lebanese Christian populations originating from southern Syria and it has been found in a single Turk from Kars Province in Turkey on the border with Armenia, a Pashtun from the area of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush range.

There are just two other confirmed G2c samples that have been publicly reported in the academic literature so far, one Pashtun in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan (the Hindu Kush Range), and one Burusho in the Hunza Valley in Kashmir.
Hunza was an important stop on the 'Silk Road' from the Near East to China.


Sephardic Families Who Settled in South Africa

History of Jews in South Africa Go to this project for active links.

You actually had two or three routes and waves of migration.

-The early patterns of Jewish South African history are almost identical with the history of the Jews in the United States but on a much smaller scale, including the period of early discovery and settlement from the late 15th century to the early 19th century.

Portuguese exploration

The modern Jewish history of South Africa began, indirectly, some time before the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, by the participation of certain astronomers and cartographers in the Portuguese discovery of the sea-route to India. There were Jews among the directors of the Dutch East India Company, which for 150 years administered the colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Jewish cartographers in Portugal, members of the wealthy and influential classes, assisted Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama who first sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and 1497. Portugal's baptised Jews were still free until the Portuguese Inquisition was promulgated in 1536.

.... therefore, as in the Americas, the "earliest Jewish settlers" of SA would be of Portuguese / Sephardic Jewish & Converso / Ladino speaking origin. In theory anyway they would follow those marriage and naming patterns.

The Dutch Settlement

In 1652 the Dutch began the first permanent European settlement of South Africa under Jan van Riebeeck as a representative of the Dutch East India Company. It has been noted that:

A number of non-professing Jews were among the first settlers of Cape Town in 1652, despite restrictions against the immigration of non-Christians. Religious freedom was granted by the Dutch colony in 1803.

Jews did not arrive in any numbers at Cape Town before the 1820s .... The South African gold rush began after 1886, attracting many Jews fleeing Russian pogroms in the Lithuanian province of the Russian Empire.