HOUSE OF ISRAEL COMMUNITY. The House of Israel community of Sefwi Wiawso and Sefwi Sui in western Ghana is a newly developing Jewish community. Fifty families practice Judaism and claim that their ancestors, the Sefwi, were descendants of Jews who migrated south through the Ivory Coast, perhaps originally from Timbuktu (see zakhor ), bringing with them ancient Jewish observances.   The community was born in 1976 after a Ghanaian named Aaron Ahotre Toakyirafa had a vision that convinced him that his Sefwi ancestors had a direct link to ancient Jews and were descended from one of the Lost Tribes. He reportedly remembered that before the arrival of Christian missionaries, the Sefwi had strictly adhered to Jewish beliefs, just like ancient Jews, according to the Torah. From that time, the members of the Sefwi Sui and Sefwi Wiawso community began to learn about Jewish practices and the Hebrew language, notably with the help of American-based organizations, observing kashrut and building a synagogue. Most members of the community are young and this first generation of Ghanaian Jews would like to convert formally. The House of Israel community is part of an international network of newly developed Jewish groups in Africa (tutsi , ibo ) inspired by symbolic uses of Judaism. The myth of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel revived by the rescue of the beta israel of Ethiopia has served as a means of self-identification for these groups, which together constitute a sort of marginal Judaism. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: K. Primack, Jews in Places You Never Thought Of (1998); T. Parfitt and E. Trevisan-Semi, Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism (2002). (Tudor Parfitt (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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