Swahili-speaking Jewish in Tanzania

The Swahili-speaking Jewish have only been reported in Tanzania
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Jews in Tanzania? Yes, there is a small Jewish population in the east African nation of Tanzania. Until recently, the tiny number of Tanzanian Jews practiced their faith secretly for fear of Christians and Muslims. In 2015, the president of Tanzania established ties with Israel and encouraged Jews to migrate to Tanzania to establish businesses. These actions encouraged the Tanzanian Jews to come out into the open.
Members of a Canadian synagogue in 2019 gave an official copy of the Torah to the Tanzanian Jews.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Germany took over Tanganyika, the large continental part of Tanzania, in the 1880s. The Germans put Swahili into Roman letters and made it the unofficial trade language of Tanzania. Germans brought in Jews from Morocco and Yemen. The Germans and later the British ordered the people to grow exports crops such as peanuts, cotton, coffee, and rubber. There led to a diminishing supply of food for the Tanzanians. When drought came, the people starved. Tanzania became independent from Britain in 1960.
Most of Tanzania's Jews live in the northern city of Arusha near the Kenyan border.


What Are Their Lives Like?

The Jews in Tanzania are better educated than the general population. Many have a college education and speak English. Jews own and operate businesses. Many work in the import and export of goods. The city of Arusha is near well-known parks where large African animals live. Some Jews work in tourism. Others are leaving Tanzania for Israel in hopes of a better life.

Since the Jewish community is so small, one of the issues facing Tanzanian Jews is finding Jewish spouses for their children. Parents do not want their children marrying Christians or Muslims. Parents want their children to obtain university educations. Jews have smaller families than the average Tanzanians. Like Christians, Jews practice monogamy, marriage to one person.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For religious Jews, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate Judge of human affairs. God revealed himself to Moses in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. Beyond this, the religious beliefs of the Jewish communities vary. Jews are diverse. Each Jewish denomination maintains synagogues and celebrates the traditional Jewish holiday calendar. While most Tanzanian Jews are religiously affiliated, there is a significant minority which is not religious. There are few, if any, Messianic Jews in Tanzania.

What Are Their Needs?

Jews in Tanzania need to hear the message about their Messiah, Yeshua. They must come to understand that Jesus alone can forgive their sins and give meaning and hope to life. Christian believers can share the love of Christ with Jews in practical ways.

Prayer Points

Pray for a movement towards Christ among the Jewish population in Tanzania.

Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies focusing on the Jews of Africa.

Pray that the Jewish people in Tanzania will understand that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.

Ask the Lord to soften the of Tanzanian Jews towards Christ's followers so that they might hear and receive the message of salvation.

Scripture Prayers for the Jewish, Swahili-speaking in Tanzania.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Jewish, Swahili-speaking
People Name in Country Jewish, Swahili-speaking
Natural Name Swahili-speaking Jewish
Pronunciation swa-HEE-lee joo
Alternate Names
Population this Country 500
Population all Countries 500
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 19245
ROP3 Code 115655
ROP25 Code 303368
ROP25 Name Jewish
Country Tanzania
Region Africa, East and Southern
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread. Formerly Zanzibar, coastal areas.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Tanzania
Region Africa, East and Southern
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread. Formerly Zanzibar, coastal areas..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Religion Subdivision: Judaism
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
85.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
15.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Swahili (500 speakers)
Language Code swh   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Swahili (500 speakers)
Language Code swh   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Swahili

Primary Language:  Swahili

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1868-1968)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1879-1989)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1890-2017)
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Audio Recordings Online Audio Scripture Talking Bibles
Audio Recordings Oral Bible stories Story Runners
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Love Story General / Other
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Swahili Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Rock International: King of Glory Rock International
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
Film / Video The Hope Video Mars Hill Media
Film / Video Walking with Jesus video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions Got Questions Ministry
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Four Spiritual Laws Campus Crusade for Christ
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General Walk with the Prophets and meet the Messiah Al Massira
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
General Zume Resources Zume Project
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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