Mordreck Maeresera, President of the Harare lemba Synagogue, shares his views on Israel

“Looking at Zion” is an online project that aims to present a comprehensive look into the Israel – Diaspora relationship. In order to reach this goal we present a series of questions to members of Jewish communities around the world, asking them to articulate their thoughts and feelings towards Israel.

The intervieweeMordreck Maeresera (born 1975), president of the Harare lemba Synagogue and a student recruiter for Malaysian Universities. Born in Buhera district in Manicaland province . Got his college degree in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Married to Brenda and a father of 2 boys: Aviv (6) and Shlomo (3).

 Harare lemba Synagogue community
Harare lemba Synagogue community

In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state have to you personally and to Jewish people in general?

“There is an lemba saying which goes ‘for a lizard to enjoy sunlight it must have a hole to crawl to when the need arise’. The same is true about the relationship between the state of Israel and every Jew everywhere. Unlike before, when Jews didn’t have a home to go when the faced persecution in the Diaspora, now they have a home and it gives them peace of mind. Besides that there is a spiritual connection between Israel and Jews, it is the land that ‘Hashem’ promised to our ancestors, the existence of the state of Israel is and will forever proof of a special relationship between the creator and every Jew everywhere. I personally thank ‘Hashem’ for the state of Israel, for its safety. I may not be there or may not make Aliyah but Israel will always be in my heart.”

Do you feel committed in some way to defend the future existence of Israel?

“With everything I have, definitely.”

Do you affiliate yourself with a specific confessional division in Judaism? What is your view regarding the dominance of the Orthodox division in Israel religious establishment?

“The dominance of the least diluted and unadulterated section of Judaism will ensure the preservation of the Jewish culture, religion and customs. So it makes me happy that the Orthodox division dominates.”

Do you feel morally responsible for Israel’s actions (such as its management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)?

“I am a Jew and belong to the Jewish nation and i am responsible for Israel’s actions, in Palestine and elsewhere. I am part of ‘nefesh Yehudim’ and therefore part of and responsible of the actions Israel makes on behalf of Jews everywhere.”

In your opinion, what is the main thing Israelis fail to understand about the reality of being Jewish outside of Israel?

“How hard it is to remain an observant Jew outside of Israel. How difficult it is to live life as a Jew and the commitment needed to maintain a Jewish identity where we are exposed to ridicule and antisemitism.”

How would you describe Israel’s policy (formally and in practice) regarding its relationship with the Diaspora?

“Israel needs cultivate its relationship with Jews outside of Israel. it would give them comfort in make them proud that Israel cares for each and every one of them.”

In your opinion, does Israel have an obligation to defend and help Jewish communities in need?

“Yes absolutely. especially security wise.”

Have you ever been to Israel? if you have, can you summarize your impression from the Israeli reality?

““I am in Israel now and being here has opened my eyes to the reality of what it means to be a Jew living among fellow Jews and what it means to have a Jewish home: the nation of Israel. It’s very easy to be observant in Israel, and it makes you feel like you are part of something great. I am seeing a nation that has its challenges but is comprised with people who have a shared dream, shared hopes and aspirations. Whose existence is as delicate as a new spring vine . The people are friendly and very hospitable.”

Can you tell us a bit about the Jewish community in your hometown? Is it organized? Are there community activities?

“The lemba Jews of Zimbabwe are a tribe of Jewish who migrated to Africa from Yemen around 700 CE. They have been in isolation for hundreds of years and have faced a lot of persecution and discrimination from christian missionaries and their converts. they have preserved a lot of Jewish traditions like circumcision, ‘Kashrut,’ and celebrating and observing ‘Yom Tov’ like Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Now they are reconnecting with normative Judaism through studying and observing.”

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About the Author
Yinon Roichman was born in 1974 and grew up in a small Moshav near Hadera. Both of his parents were born in Israel, but his family roots go back to the Jewish community in: Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Czechoslovakia.He holds a B.A degree in Film, Communication from Tel Aviv University. For more than last 15 years he has worked as a writer and editor in different positions in the Israeli media industry.
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