Arts & Culture

Jews In Unlikely Places: Scattered Among The Nations

I tripped across an article about Penn State hosting an exhibit entitled Scattered Among The Nations by photographers Bryan Schwartz, Jay Sand, and Sandy Carter. The photographs depict Jews in the most unlikely places: India, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Peru and Uzbekistan. … Read More

By / March 20, 2009

I tripped across an article about Penn State hosting an exhibit entitled Scattered Among The Nations by photographers Bryan Schwartz, Jay Sand, and Sandy Carter. The photographs depict Jews in the most unlikely places: India, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Peru and Uzbekistan.

Check out the website scatteredamongthenations.org to see many photographs and descriptions of the Jewish communities in Africa, Asia, former USSR, and South America. Also in the works is a book: Jews of Color: In Color! It’s fascinating to read about these often tiny Jewish communities. Some of them are ancient such as in Tunisia where the first Jews arrived 2600 years ago during the Babylonian Exile. Others are brand new such as the the Inca Jews of Peru who started practicing Judaism just 10 years ago. The small communities are recognizably Jewish with many of them observing Shabbat and kosher laws in the familiar ways one would find everywhere. However, each have customs reflecting their own "flavor" of Judaism. For example, in the tiny Jewish communities of Uganda and Zimbabwe songs written in Hebrew are set to African melodies; in India the Benei Menashe still practice ritual sacrifice of animals while the Bene Israel have their "Malida" ceremony which offers prayers, songs and bowls of fruits and flowers to the Prophet Elijah. Scattered Among Nations is also a non-profit organization who assists isolated Jewish communities through projects such as helping the Inca Jews become officially converted and building a community center for the Benei Menashe Jews in India.