Swaziland

There are only 14 Jewish families in Swaziland, totaling around 50 people.  Despite their small numbers, Swazi Jews have played an important role in the growth and development of the country, particularly in the business and legal communities. The Swazi affiliate of the World Jewish Congress is the Swaziland Jewish Community.

WJC Affiliate

Swaziland Jewish Community

Telephone: +268 7 604 0766
Email: koberamokgadihighschool@gmail.com

President: Geoffrey Ramokgadi-President



History

The Jewish presence in Swaziland dates back to the Second World War when Holocaust survivors who were turned away by South Africa came to settle in the country. Kalman Goldblatt, who arrived from Lithuania around this time, was heavily involved in the economic development of the country, and even helped establish the first townships in the country.

The Jewish community in Swaziland has experienced very little anti-Semitism and is active in the country’s business and legal communities. Many of the Jewish immigrants of the post-war era intermarried with the indigenous population and, as a result, many Swazis today have Jewish surnames – including a former Cabinet minister. Natan Gamedze, a member of the royal line and grandson of the King of Swaziland, converted to Judaism in 1991 and is currently an Orthodox rabbi. More recently, Jewish citizen Stanley Sapire served as the Chief Justice of the Swazi Court of Appeal.

Demography

According to the African Jewish Congress, there are 50 Jews in Swaziland out of a total population of 1,343,098 – constituting 0.004% of the population. The Jewish population of Swaziland is almost entirely concentrated in Mbabane, the capital.

Communal, Religious and Cultural Life

The Swazi Jewish community is affiliated with the African Jewish Congress, 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 Swaziland has international representation, including within the WJC, despite the small size of its population. Due to the small size of the Swazi Jewish community, there is no synagogue. Jewish religious life, like other endeavors, is left to the initiative of individual members of the community. The African Jewish Congress does provide some religious assistance but religious life in Swaziland is not concentrated or centralized in any meaningful way. Kosher food in Swaziland is extremely scarce, and non-existent outside of Mbabane.

Israel

Israel and Swaziland maintain diplomatic ties although Israel does not have an embassy in Mbabane. Instead, relations are handled through the Israeli embassy in South Africa.

Embassy of Israel
428 King’s Highway
(Corner Elizabeth Grove)
Lynwood, Pretoria 0081
South Africa

Telephone: +27 (0)12 470 3500
Fax: +27 (0)12 348 5518

updated

 

March 2018

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