Community in Botswana - World Jewish Congress

According to, in 2020, Botswana was home to around 100 Jews. The Botswanan Jewish community, primarily comprised of Israeli expats, is regarded as the youngest and fastest-growing organized Jewish community in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its sense of security allows its members to publicly practice Judaism nationwide.

The main body of representation for Botswanan Jewry is the Jewish Community of Botswana – the Botswanan affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
The Jewish Community of Botswana

Chairman: Richard A. Lyons

Jewish presence in Botswana is almost entirely modern, with the community being comprised of Israeli expatriates who work in agriculture, business, and industry. Immigrants from South Africa have also added to the size of Botswanan Jewry, which is considered the youngest and fastest-growing Jewish community in Sub-Sahara Africa.

These increases in the size of the Jewish community in Botswana can largely be attributed to the country’s economic transformations that have made Botswana one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Moreover, financial incentives provided by the Botswanan government and its “zero tolerance” attitude towards crime have also made Botswana a desirable location, especially for former South African Jewish citizens. Richard Lyons is the only Jew who is a “Motswana” – a full citizen of the country.

The Years of the Holocaust

The Jewish Community of Botswana estimated that there are approximately 21 Jews in the country out of a total population of 2,214,858 people. Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola estimated that there were 100 Jews in Botswana as of 1993. Jewish life in Botswana is entirely concentrated in Gaborone, the country’s capital.

Community Life

The Botswanan Jewish community is represented by the Jewish Community of Botswana, headed by Richard A. Lyons, who also serves as the country’s Honorary Consul for the State of Israel in Botswana. Additionally, the Jewish Community of Botswana is affiliated with the African Jewish Congress (AJC), which is based in South Africa and advocates on behalf of the small and scattered communities of sub-Sahara Africa. It works to ensure that the Jewish community of Botswana has international representation, including with the WJC, despite the small size of its population.

Religious and Cultural Life

Due to the small size of the Jewish community in Botswana, there are no formal religious services, but on Friday nights, the community holds services in the home of an Israeli community member, so it can form a minyan when needed. Additionally, Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, the spiritual leader and traveling rabbi of the AJC, officiates at religious ceremonies and life-cycle events for Botswanan Jews. There are currently plans to build a synagogue.

Kosher Food

Kosher food is almost non-existent in Botswana. It is delivered through the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and stored in the homes of the community members.

Jewish Education
Jewish Media

The Botswanan Jewish community has a community newsletter detailing various events regarding Jewish life.

Information for Visitors
Relations with Israel

Israel and Botswana renewed diplomatic ties in 1993 after the Oslo Accords, with the Botswana International University of Science and Technology Program at Ben Gurion University, in which Botswanan students can complete their studies in Israel, demonstrating the amicable relations between the two countries. Israel has a roving ambassador based in Jerusalem that visits around four times a year. Additionally, community leader Richard A. Lyons serves as the Honorary Consul for the State of Israel in Botswana.

Israeli Honorary Consulate in Gaborone, Botswana
Plot 2657, Kgori Close, Ext. 9
Opposite G-Sun
P.O Box 160

Telephone: (+267) 395 2364
Fax: (+267) 395 2061

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