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Africa’s Isolated Jews Found by Photographer’s Lens

African Jewish Women of Lemba Community (Photo: Courtesy/Jono David)

The Fellowship and our faithful friends have long built bridges with Jewish communities across the globe, including those in Africa. Now, The Times of Israel's Melanie Lidman tells of a photographer who has traveled the African continent, documenting the emerging Jewish communities found there:

The synagogues of emerging Jewish communities in Africa are often modest affairs at the end of bumpy dirt roads, communities which feel a historical or spiritual connection to Judaism, but are struggling to practice fully in their isolated conclaves. Judaism has always had a presence in North Africa, and later, in South Africa. But in the middle of this vast continent, dozens of new Jewish communities are beginning to reach out to the wider Jewish world.

Some, like Ghana, believe they are historical descendants of Jewish traders in the Sahara. Others, in Uganda and Kenya, have felt a spiritual pull to Judaism. Photographer Jono David, 50, has attempted to capture intimate moments of small, emerging Jewish communities across Africa in 30 different countries and territories. An exhibition of some of those photos, The Children of Abraham and Sarah, is now featured at Beit HaTfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, through December. It is part of an installation that also includes Nina Pereg’s two videos, filmed at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, showing preparations to flip the holy site from a mosque to a synagogue and vice versa, during the two days each year when the whole complex is open to either Jews or Muslims.

David’s HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library boasts over 100,000 photos from 145 countries and territories on six continents. He has visited hundreds of Jewish communities, documenting how they combine their spiritual identity with local customs...

Tags: Africa

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