Kulanu has a thriving relationship with the small African Jewish community in Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana.
Jay Sand writes:
Sefwi Wiawso is about 7 hours’ drive from Accra, about two hours west of Kumasi. The House of Israel community of Sefwi Wiawso and Sefwi Sui in Western Ghana is either a relatively new one, or an ancient one, depending on one’s particular evaluation of the community’s history. Members of the community believe that their ancestors, the Sefwi people, are descendants of Jews who migrated south through the Ivory Coast (perhaps originally from Timbuktu), bringing with them ancient Jewish observances. The current community was born in recent years after a local spiritual leader had a “vision” that convinced him that his Sefwi ancestors were actually Jews. The House of Israel has faced many challenges because of their beliefs, but since founding the community about 25 years ago the elders have grown their group to encompass several large families. Most members of this community are children and they are the first generation of Ghanaians (at least in recent times) to be raised Jewish.
Click the link in the box and then send a blank email to join the Sefwi Wiawso Support Group, Kulanu’s Yahoo group. This group provides support and information for the community and to people who might visit or volunteer in Sefwi Wiawso. As of November, 2017 the group had 182 members, and many of our members have been to Sefwi Wiawso.
Over the years, Kulanu has sent two rabbinical students and a series of other volunteers and visitors to the community, and the community is eager to have more volunteers and visitors. Contact the regional coordinator if you are interested. Kulanu also sells colorful embroidered challah covers and kente cloth tallitot on behalf of the Sefwi Wiawso community, at kulanuboutique.com – since 2001, we have sent more than $50,000 in sales proceeds, and have helped the community sell directly to other vendors as well. These covers come from the Tiferet Israel Community Project, the economic development project of the Jewish community in Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana. The community has used proceeds from this project and donations to build a guest house, which is being named in memory of Michael Gershowitz, z”l, Kulanu’s original coordinator for this community. Donations to the guest house project are welcome on Gabe Gershowitz’ fundraising page.
Gabrielle Zilkha, “Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana.” (2016)
Photos and Videos from Ghana
- Ghana video Playlist on YouTube
- Anita Tarab’s Photo Slideshow – from her 2009 visit
- Ike Swetlitz’s Photo Album – from his 2013 visit
Ghana Articles and Links
- Kulanu Global Teaching Fellows: Reflections from Ghana by Loren Berman, Kulanu Teaching Fellow from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, New York City (2017)
- Ghana’s deep spirituality points some, joyfully, back to Judaism by Melanie Lidman (2016) (links to external web site)
- Reconnecting to Judaism on a Ghana Mountaintop by Laura Ross-Perry (2014) (links to external web site – article from jweekly.com)
- What’s Happening in Africa: Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe By Judy Manelis (2013)
- A Ghanaian Learns In Uganda Alex Armah (2008)
- Jewish Learning Takes a Village Michael Ramberg (2007)
- Young Journalist Seeks out African Jewish Community Florence Gbolu (2004)
- A Letter from Ghana David Ahenkorah (1996)
- The Ghanaian Village That Wants To Be Jewish Daniel Baiden with Robert Lande (1996)
- Gone to Ghana Gabriel Gershowitz
- A Visit to Ghana Michael Gershowitz