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Botswana Virtual Jewish History Tour

During the 2000’s, approximately 100 Jews lived in Botswana, nearly all of the community in Gaborone. As of 2013, the Jewish community may no longer be present, though a number cannot be confirmed.

The majority of the Jewish community was Israeli and worked in agriculture, business or industry. On the High Holidays, a rabbi was provided for the community by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. Because there is no established synagogue, services were either conducted in one of the congregants’ houses or in a communal center. Sometimes Friday night Shabbat services were held, with one of the congregants leading the prayers. Jews are buried in non-Jewish cemeteries.

In 1993, Israel and Botswana renewed diplomatic relations after several years of disagreement. Israel is represented in Botswana by the Israeli ambassador in Zimbabwe.

Baruch Padeh Medical Center sent a delegation of doctors to Botswana to assist the country in its fight against COVID-19. “We are here to share with the medical staff the vast knowledge and experience that we have accumulated during the complex treatment of the coronavirus pandemic,” Dr. Hagar Mizrahi said.

The team is working with Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, which was newly established at the start of the pandemic and serves Botswana’s COVID-19 patients.

Sources: World Jewish Congress.
Jews by Country.
International Jewish Cemetery Project.

Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, “Israel’s Baruch Padeh sends medical delegation to Botswana, Africa,” Jerusalem Post, (May 5, 2021).