The Gateway Jewish Museum Project

The Gateway Jewish Museum in Livingstone was opened in 2013. The museum tells the story of the Jews who settled in and around Livingstone, as well as in other major Zambian towns, and reflects on the part they played in the economic, cultural and political development of Northern Rhodesia/Zambia.

Situated within the precinct of the Railway Museum of Zambia, the Gateway Jewish Museum is perfectly positioned to describe the part the Jewish community played in the story of the Line of Rail and beyond.

A vehicle for education, information and dialogue, it provides a dynamic forum for recognizing the past and looking to the future, bearing witness to the pioneering spirit of the immigrant Jewish community. Here visitors experience the reality of life on the African frontier and the Line of Rail, as well as exploring the origins of the settlers in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The Gateway Jewish Museum honours and celebrates the contribution of the Jewish community in Zambia and highlights the integral position of Livingstone over a hundred years as the gateway to Zambia and to the interior of central Africa for immigrant Jews.

At the Gateway Jewish Museum visitors are transported back through time as they experience the contribution of the Jewish Community in Zambia.

The Jews who arrived in the then colony of Northern Rhodesia from Eastern and later Southern Europe and elsewhere were inspired by the hope of building a new life for themselves in a still developing land filled with promise and opportunity. Many settled in the country towns along the line of rail. Some owned boarding houses, hotels, general dealerships, butcheries, and cinemas. Others became cattle drivers, butchers, storekeepers, and taxi drivers. Some practiced professions. A few rose to political prominence. Emerging Jewish communities established synagogues, burial societies, and charitable organisations. Later these would include Zionist institutions, youth movements, and cultural associations.

Having been excluded from the professions in Eastern Europe, Jewish immigrants in Southern Africa had to depend upon trade and often started out as peddlers travelling to remote country districts and trading in anything from haberdashery to hardware to cattle. Over time, successful traders set up their own stores making their mark on the supply chain and thereby helping to pioneer commerce and industry in Northern Rhodesia.

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