Beninese Jews
French, Hebrew

The history of the Jews in Benin is recent and the contemporary Jewish community in Benin is very small.


In the 19th century, the French Catholic missionary Pierre Bertrand Bouche observed customs in Dahomey such as circumcision and seclusion of menstruating women that he termed "Judaic practices", believing them to be of Jewish origin.[1]

A 1926 report published by the Jewish scholar Jonas Kreppel claimed that a large community of Black Jews existed in the interior of Dahomey. According to Kreppel, these Black Jews had their own central temple where they sacrificed animals and laws were engraved on tablets that were hung on the temple walls.[2]

In 1929, the impostor Bata LoBagola published a book claiming to be a Beninese Jew descended from a Lost Tribe of Israel in Dahomey. LoBagola's true identity was Joseph Howard Lee, an African-American entertainer from Baltimore.[3]

A 2016 article in The Times of Israel reported that internet searches were connecting isolated Jewish communities across Africa, including in Benin.[4]

According to a 2022 report from the United States Department of State, "There was no known Jewish community" and there were no reported instances of antisemitic acts.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Parfitt, Tudor (2013). Black Jews in Africa and the Americas. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674071506.
  2. ^ Blacks Jews: the religious challenge or politics versus religion, Cambridge University Press, 1987, pg. 232
  3. ^ "Scalawags: Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola". NUVO. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  4. ^ "Long isolated, Africa's Jewish 'islands' bridged by photographer's lens". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  5. ^ "2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Benin". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2023-03-22.