House of Israel, New Andiembra, Sefwi Wiawso district, Western Ghana
House of Israel is a Jewish community located in the scenic hills of Sefwi Wiawso district of the Western region of Ghana. Unlike with most parts of Ghana, Christian missionaries reached this region relatively late. Before being converted into Christianity, the Sefwi people used to practice their own indigenous religion, which laws corresponded to the Torah laws. Work on the seventh day was strictly prohibited and violators were punished with severe fines; all males were circumcised; a husband and a wife were separated during menstruation; eating pork-like animals was forbidden. Those customs were preserved by the paramount chief but abandoned with the spread of Christianity. In 1977, the founder of the community Toakyirafa had a vision that the Sefwi people were one of the lost tribes of Israel, the starting point of return of the Sefwi people to Judaism. After adopting Judaism, the community members went through persecutions and humiliations from their neighbors, the reason they had to leave their village Old Andiembra and resettle at a new place called New Andiembra. Later, the law of Freedom of Worship successfully implemented by the government of Ghana ended persecutions, and today about a hundred Sefwi Jews worship openly and live in peace with their Christian and Muslim neighbors. They were granted 40 acres of land by the chief and make their living from farming. On the money earned from farming they built the only synagogue in Ghana where they conduct services. According to the research of the present leader of the community Alex Armah, based on examination of oral tradition, the Sefwi people came to Ghana from Ethiopia and Sudan. One of the common heroes of Sefwi songs is Kwame. Kwame is the name given to a person born on Saturday. Such songs are traditionally used in celebrating the seventh day.