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The Creation of Honen Dalim: The Jewish Community of Mozambique

A Community Renewed

In 1989 a local non-Jewish businessman, Alkis Macropolous, organized a campaign to have the synagogue returned to the community. An advertisement placed in the local newspaper brought the few remaining Jews in the country back together. Gradually, small contributions allowed clean-up and restoration work to begin.  People had expected the synagogue to become a sort of historical monument to the Mozambican Jewish community that had once worshipped there.

Their expectations were not justified.  The return of the synagogue to the Jews led the Jews to return to the synagogue. A handful of self-taught members started meeting on Saturday afternoons to sing songs and study Hebrew.

Since the 1989 recovery of the synagogue, milestone has followed milestone.  Over the years the community has re-instituted regular Shabbat services, has observed all major holidays, has acquired a Sefer Torah, and has held Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and other life-cycle events.  In 2009, an association was formally incorporated and recognized by the government: Honen Dalim - The Jewish Community of Mozambique.  The synagogue building was completely and lovingly restored in 2013 and is now a beautiful, contemplative space at the center of community life.

Image Courtesy of  Jono David/HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library

Image Courtesy of Jono David/HaChayim HaYehudim Jewish Photo Library

The community’s single most unifying ritual is the Shabbat service held every Friday night.  Long gone is the competition between Ashkenazic and Sephardic liturgical styles. The task today is to make the services accessible and meaningful to those who speak only Portuguese and to those who prefer English. The result is Nusach Maputo, a service that flows seamlessly among Portuguese, English and Hebrew.

The demand for Jewish knowledge in Maputo is greater than the supply.  The community welcomes visiting Rabbis and scholars who devote time and effort to help us to increase our knowledge and Jewish connectedness.

We are always looking for ways to grow in our Jewish identity and to respond to the needs of our small and diverse community.