Jewish Tribe Found in Zimbabwe



zimbabweIt is easy to distinguish between the Lemba and their Zimbabwean neighbors – the wear yarmulkes, pray in a language rich in Yemeni and Hebrew roots, and draw Magen Dovids on their headstones.

 The BBC reported yetserday that British scientists have succeeded in proving that the Lemba are indeed Jewish, as they claim, through DNA testing.

The tribe, numbering around 80,000, resides in central Zimbabwe and northern South Africa. Many have converted to Christianity but still maintain many Jewish customs, such as circumcision, kosher slaughter, and prohibition of pork.

According to the Lemba’s tradition, passed on orally throughout its history, their ancestors were seven Jews who left the holy land 2,500 years ago, before the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdosh. They passed through Yemen and finally settled in Africa.

Many see it as just another lost tribe myth, but DNA tests have confirmed that the Lemba carry the Semitic gene.

Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave said few people were aware of the tribe’s existence, and that he wanted the world to know about it.

 “I’m very proud to realize that we have a rich culture and I’m proud to be a Lemba. We have been a very secretive people, because we believe we are a special people,” he told the BBC.

 Professor Tudor Parfitt, from the University of London, said he was astonished to discover the many Jewish customs practiced by the tribe.

 “This was amazing,” he said. “It looks as if the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen, and in same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.

 “They have a common ancestor who geneticists say lived about 3,000 years ago somewhere in north Arabia, which is the time of Moses and Aaron when the Jewish priesthood started.”

 Parfitt, a world-renowned expert, spent 20 years researching the Lemba and lived among them for six months. Despite their Jewish practices, many are Christian and even Muslim.

 “Christianity is my religion, and Judaism is my culture,” says Perez Hamandishe, a local pastor.

{Ynet/Yair Israel}


  1. They keep finding these so-called “Jews.” First in Ethiopia, then India, and now Zimbabwe. Before you know it, half the world will be considered “Jewish.”

    It’s time to stop looking for these pseudo-Jews. As HaRav Avigdor Miller stated (on tape 853) “Ethiopian `Jews’ are not Jews at all. It’s a falsehood, sheker vekozov.”

  2. one particular problems with this is that Kippah wearing is relatively a very new phonemonen, just a few hundred years old.

  3. @Rebbe

    Even if Ethiopian Jews are false, that doesn’t automatically mean these are too. I’m not saying I’m jumping in headfirst to welcome them. But it’s worth learning about. Maybe these people are legit– the article does cite DNA evidence. Just because one “tribe” is false doesn’t mean ALL tribes are false.


    The article says this tribe wears yarmulkes, not that they’ve been doing so for centuries. Being a “relatively new phenomenon” has no bearing.

  4. #7, 10,000,000 Zimbabwian Dollars are worth maybe 2 cents. They got rid of the 1,000,000 dollar bill because it was worthless!