In 2013 when Kulanu rented a house for the Lemba community in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, no one truly understood the impressive impact this would have on building the community. The house quickly became the Harare Lemba synagogue, a place where the Lemba community met for services and socializing.
Hamlet Zhou, a Lemba musician and expert rhythm guitarist (pictured in the green shirt in the back row with the Harare Lemba synagogue choir), was one of the hundreds of young Lemba who had moved to the capital city in search of a living and was separated from his community and traditions in the village.
The synagogue served as a familiar place and connected Hamlet and his Lemba friends with Judaism, the religion of their ancestors, and gave them a deep appreciation of their Lemba identity and traditions.
This year, with the help of the Harare Lemba synagogue choir, Hamlet began using his musical talent to compose tunes for prayers to be adopted by the congregation during service.
Now the Harare Lemba synagogue congregants sing most of the prayers in their own tunes and melodies, which gives their services a unique Lemba Jewish identity. Click here to listen.
Kulanu’s work helps to bring Hamlet and the Lemba community back to the larger Jewish community and fosters the appreciation of their unique Lemba identity and culture.