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Congo, Dem Rep of (formerly Belgian Congo, Zaire)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a massive country in central Africa with a very short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. From 1885 until 1908, it  was under the personal rule of the King of Belgium and known as the Congo Free State. The territory then passed to Belgian rule and was known as the Belgian Congo until being granted independence in 1960. Upon independence, the country initially adopted the name Republic of the Congo (and was generally known as Congo-Leopoldville to distinquish it from the adjoining former French colony also called Republic of the Congo). In 1964, it changed its name to Democratic Republic of the Congo and in 1971 to Republic of Zaire.  In 1997, it reverted to the name Democratic Republic of the Congo (sometimes referred to as DRC or Congo-Kinshasa).



Under Belgian colonial rule, around 2,500 Jews lived in eight communities, centered in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi). The majority of this largely Sephardic Community came from Rhodes or Salonika. Many settled in the Cape after independence. As of June 2000, around 85 Jews reside in Kinshasa (previously Leopoldville) and a few in Lubumbashi and smaller towns. A number of Israeli expatriates work there.  Courtesy of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [June 2000].

Jewish burial ground is under the control of the Chief Rabbi of Zaire: Rabbi Moshe Levy, 50 West Churchill Avenue, PO Box 15, Brussels, Belgium

History. Eastern European Jews from Romania and Poland arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1907 followed by some Jewish families from South Africa and Palestine and then in 1911, Sephardic Jews from the island of Rhodes. The Communauté du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi, the Jewish community center, was established in 1911. In 1930, the first synagogue was consecrated in Elisabethville. Most of the Eastern European Jews left in the 1930s because of a severe economic crisis. From 1937, Rabbi Moses Levy led the Jewish communities of the Congo and Ruanda-Urandi. After World War I and II, however, many Jewish refugees from Eastern and Southern Europe came to the Congo. Prior to independence, approximately 2,500 Jews lived in the Congo; 50% resided in Elisabethville and about 70 Jewish families were based in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. In the public schools, Jewish children were provided classes in Hebrew and Judaism. In 1960, after Zaire gained its independence and the Belgians left the country, many Jews also left, with large numbers immigrating to South Africa and Israel. In 2000, most of the 320 Jews lived in Lubumbashi. Most are of Sephardic descent and speak Ladino. A synagogue in Lubumbashi has a rabbi. A small Jewish community in Kinshasa is called Congregation Israelite. The Jewish community in Zaire is represented by the Communaute Israelite du Shaba. In 1960, the Republic of Congo established diplomatic relations with Israel. Zaire broke relations with Israel under pressure from the Arabs in 1973. A decade later, Zaire was one of the first to reestablish relations with Israel. [August 2009]

DR Congo: Jewish academic says state radio spreading hate. [August 2009]

Wherever There Is Coca-Cola, There Are Jews. [August 2009]

From Rhodes to Africa : The Jews who built the Belgian Congo. [August 2009]

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