The Jews of Zimbabwe Rhodesia

The Jews of Zimbabwe Rhodesia have gained new hope from the recent cease-fire ending the seven-year civil war in that country. They perceive a return to normalcy and “some Jews are very optimistic about the future,” M. Hatchuel, president of the Central African Zionist Organization, was quoted as saying in a recent issue of the Zionist Record and South African Jewish Chronicle.

“We hope the cease-fire will be adhered to and that we will see an end to this terrible slaughter. In the meantime, things are continuing as normal,” Hatchuel said. “Communal life and organizations are still in full swing and our enthusiasm hasn’t been dampened in this respect. Nobody is panicking at the moment or looking to run away. We are carrying on as we used to do.”

According to the Zionist Record and South African Jewish Chronicle, there are some 2000 Jews in Zimbabwe Rhodesia, down from a peak of more than 7000 in 1968. Since then, Jews emigrated along with a large part of the general white population, because of the fighting and uncertain political future of the central African nation.

Nevertheless, there has been a significant expansion in communal institutions and facilities of the Jewish community despite a considerable turnover in congregational officials, the newspaper reported. It also noted that the Rhodesian Jewish community, always an affluent one, has been able to cope with the internal difficulties without having to cut back on communal facilities or local needs or its support for Israel, the newspaper reported.

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