African Jewish communities get some mainstream recognition after years on the margins

Rabbi Capers Funnye, left, and Martha Leah Williams, at the Jewish Africa Conference in New York, Jan. 29, 2019. (Josefin Dolsten)

NEW YORK (JTA) — At a conference here on Jewish life in Africa, Magda Haroun spoke of being only one of a handful of Jews left in Egypt, a country that was once home to a Jewish community of 80,000.

Abere Endeshaw Kerehu shared the struggles faced by the approximately 8,000 Jews still living in Ethiopia who face anti-Semitism at home but have not yet been allowed to immigrate to Israel.

But others offered a more optimistic picture. Rabbi Levi Banon said Casablanca, Morocco is home to “a small but very vibrant” Jewish community that operates 22 active synagogues, while Remy Ilona urged acceptance of a growing community of Nigerian Igbo people who he says are practicing rabbinic Judaism.

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