Many Jews settled in Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia) seeking economic prosperity. The earliest Jewish settlements in Rhodesia were located in Livingstone and Broken Hill. The first Jewish settlers came to Rhodesia and were prominent in developing the cattle production and copper mining. Although small in population, the Jewish community left a major mark on the economy and political life of Rhodesia.
By 1905, a permanent Jewish congregation had been established in Livingstone. The congregation of 38 members celebrated its first wedding in 1910.
Over time, much of the Jewish community became very successful in the ranching industry and iron foundries. By 1921, 110 Jews lived in Rhodesia: 48 l in Livingstone, 11 in Broken Hill, and 25 in Lusaka. Several more Jewish refugees arrived to the country following the Holocaust. The population peaked at 1,200 in the mid-1950s. By this time, the center of Jewish life had shifted to Lusaka, the copperbelt center of the country.
During the 1960s, much of the Jewish population immigrated abroad; by 1968, the Jewish community had declined to 600 people.
Prior to Zambia’s independence in 1964, Jews were active in local government. Jews served as mayors in Livingstone, Broken Hill, Kitwe, and Luanshya. In the 1930s, Sir Roy Welensky was the leading political figure in Northern Rhodesian. From 1959 to 1962, M. G. Rabb was elected to the national legislative assembly. From 1962 to 1968, S. W. Magnus was a prominent member of the Zambian parliament. After 1968, Magnus was appointed a high court judge.
In 1978, the Council for Zambia Jewry was founded in Lusaka to oversee Jewish communal activities. The council provides assistance to political refugees and the poverty-stricken with medical and financial aid. The two synagogues located in Lusaka and Ndola (it has recently been closed due to a lack of congregants), but no rabbis are resident.
Today, approximately 35 Jews remain in Zambia; nearly all live in Lusaka. There has been no rabbi directing the community for several years.
Israel and Zambia maintain full diplomatic relations. The Israeli ambassador in Harare, Zimbabwe represents Zambia.
Chairman: M.C. Galaun
Lusaka Hebrew Congregation
of Southern African Sub-continent