House of Israel (Ghana)

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House of Israel
Total population
c. 200 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
200 Ghana [1]
Languages
Sefwi
Religion
Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Sefwi

The House of Israel is a Jewish community located in Sefwi Wiawso in southwestern Ghana. This group of people, of the Sefwi tribe, built a synagogue in 1998. Many of the men and children read English, but no one knows Hebrew.

History of Jews in Ghana[edit]

Some ethnic Africans in Ghana have begun to practice Judaism since a group of people from the Sefwi tribe established ties to worldwide Jewry in the late 20th century. They have received educational materials about modern Judaism and vital texts such as Tanakhs, Siddurim, etc. from western Jewish communities.

The people of Sefwi Wiawso trace a call for a "return" to normative Judaism by Aaron Ahomtre Toakyirafa, a community leader who, in 1976, is said to have had a vision. In 2012, Gabrielle Zilkha, a Toronto-based filmmaker, visited Sefwe Wiawso to do research for a documentary about the House of Israel she is making. According to Zilkha, about 200 people--mostly children--live in the community. She states that the lack of a historical record makes it difficult to very the groups claims, but that there is an oral tradition dating back 200 years.[2]

Jewish facilities[edit]

The leader of the House of Israel since 1993, David Ahenkorah received his own vision in taking up the mantle.[3] He has been granted a 40-acre plot of land to build a Jewish school for the community, but they have not yet been able to raise funds for construction. Children currently attend a local school, run by Christians. They built a synagogue in 1998 in New Adiembra, a Jewish neighborhood in Sefri Wiawso. Recently, they painted it blue and white, the colors of Israel.[3] There are several family compounds nearby and about 200 people belong to the synagogue.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shlomo Kasputin, "Ghana's House of Israel, descendents of lost tribes?", Jewish Tribune, December 2012, accessed 22 May 2013
  2. ^ Shlomo Kasputin, "Ghana's House of Israel, descendents of lost tribes?", Jewish Tribune, December 2012, accessed 22 May 2013
  3. ^ a b c "In West Africa, a Synagogue Where the Pavement Ends". Forward. Forward. 2005-10-28. Retrieved 2012-10-09.