The Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Jewish community has been practicing Orthodox Judaism since 2000 and was an outgrowth of the International Kabbalah Center in Abidjan. Their coordinator is Cornet Alexandre Zouko who contacted Kulanu in 2014 looking for educational material and material resources to further the community’s Jewish development. Alexandre and the other members found their way to Judaism from Christianity. The community is now a merger of two communities, Beit Israel founded by Alexandre, and Etz Chaim founded by Avraham Yago.
They meet regularly on Shabbat and holidays and pray Nusach Ari, using a Sepharadi Kabbalisitc tradition. They study Kabbalah, and Chassidism and learn Tanya and other Chassidic texts. The women cover their hair in the Orthodox manner and now have a long curtain as a mechitza (partition). The community for the most part is well educated and middle class. Members have studied with rabbis in Israel, have traveled to Israel, and they have studied with French-speaking rabbis in Morocco. In the summer, of 2017, they studied for a month with a Kulanu Global Teaching fellow. They have eliminated the “Judicurious” members and only have members that are committed to lifelong Jewish practice. Kulanu has donated a Sefer Torah to them. Many members had Orthodox conversions in December 2017.
Another group exploring Judaism in Côte d’Ivoire is the Danites. The Danites are a local ethnic group numbering two million, some of whom claim descent from the Tribe of Dan. Their traditional clothing seems to suggest tallitot (prayer shawls), which some take as a sign of Jewish origin. They have circumcision. Though belief in their Israelite origin is widespread, most Danites are Christian or Muslim. A relatively small group is interested in exploring the practices of Judaism. They have already received an Israeli delegation to investigate their claiming Jewish origins and a documentary movie has been made by journalist David Szerman.
Photos and Videos from Côte d’Ivoire
- Photo and video album from 2017
- Photo album from 2014
- Kulanu’s Cote d’Ivoire playlist on Youtube (videos by Bonita Nathan Sussman)
Articles and Links
- Sub-Saharan Jewish communities meet in Abidjan by Africanews (2022)
- Jews in Cote d’Ivoire by Bonita Sussman (2018)
- In this West African Nation, a Jewish Community is Forming by Josefin Dolsten for Jewish Telegraphic Agency (2018)
- Cote d’Ivoire Conversions and Weddings Kulanu blog post (2018)
- Jews in Cote d’Ivoire: An Untold Story on eJewish Philanthropy (2017)
- The Tzidkaniot: Righteous Women of Kulanu Communities by Bonita Sussman (2016)
- Judaism in Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon by Bonita Sussman (2014)
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Official language: French
Local language: Many local dialects