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The Lemba Jews Of Zimbabwe

This year is not the first the Lemba of Zimbabwe are celebrating the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. They have done so twice before. But Modreck Maeresera, president of the Harare Lemba Synagogue, said past services have been pretty basic. For Rosh Hashana, he said, "it was mainly about blowing the shofar [ram’s horn] and eating apples dipped in honey."

That is because although the Lemba have long considered themselves cultural Jews, they are just now learning how to be practicing Jews. Last year for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Maeresera searched the Internet for appropriate Jewish High Holiday prayers. This year the congregation has machzorim, or special High Holiday prayer books, making Maeresera confident that services will closely resemble services conducted at a more traditional synagogue.

Still, there are some things he doesn’t quite understand, like why the new year is celebrated in the seventh month and not at the end of the year. Nevertheless, the 41-year-old college recruiter has a lot more answers than when he was a child...


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