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Jews in the Diaspora: African Jewish Council

The African Jewish Congress was founded in 1992 as a representative coordinating body for the Jewish communities in Sub-Saharan African countries. Its main aims are (a) to enable smaller Jewish communities to establish and maintain contact with larger Jewish communities, which in turn provide them with access to various facilities, and (b) to give Africa and African Jews a voice in international Jewry through a properly constituted forum. The establishment of the AJC was made possible by the demise of white minority rule in South Africa, which ended South Africa's isolation on the international stage and enabled its large Jewish community to take the lead in setting up a representative body for African Jewry. The AJC has its head offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, located within the administrative structure of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and is affiliated to theWorld Jewish Congress. The main professional officer of the AJC is its spiritual leader, who regularly travels to the affiliated countries to, amongst other things, officiate at religious services and life-cycle events, visit individual Jews living in isolated areas, and oversee the maintenance of Jewish cemeteries. Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft has fulfilled this role since the organization's creation while founder-member Mervyn Smith, a former national president of the sajbd, has served as its president and represented the organization at the World Jewish Congress. The AJC holds annual meetings on a rotational basis in the various affiliate countries. These include Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), *Kenya , Lesotho, Madagascar , Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

[David Saks (2nd ed.)]

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.