Sephardic Jews in Zimbabwe, with Stella Cohen
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: How many Jews were there in Zimbabwe at their peak in the early 1960s, and how many are there now?
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, Judeo-Spanish communities spread throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and the Arab world. One of the more influential of these communities was established during the height of the Ottoman Empire on the island of Rhodes.
Because of a new wave of political turmoil in the early 20th century, many Sephardic Jews left Rhodes, migrating to many countries, including Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, where Stella Cohen was born. Deeply inspired by her roots and constantly immersed in its traditions, this artist and lover of Sephardic cuisine has set out to record the legacy of this world. In 1986, she co-authored the spiral-bound cookbook Sephardic Cuisine, which was independently published under the auspices of the Sephardic community of Zimbabwe, and we recently spoke with her about Stella’s Sephardic Table, her book of recipes, personal anecdotes and Ladino sayings.
This week, Stella is speaking with us about the Jewish community in Zimbabwe.