A recently published letter, sent by an Israeli diplomat serving in Africa in 1962, revealed the incredible story, kept secret until now, of the only Jew in Chad. Aryeh Lourie who was the chargé d'affaires at the Israeli embassy, told of a Jewish man of Persian descent who had served as a muezzin, in N'Djamena, formerly known as Fort Lamy.
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Mr. George Hamdani from the Persian city of Hamdan came to Fort Lami a quarter of a century earlier. At the time the city was made up entirely of Muslims who had just completed the construction of a large mosque and were searching for a Muslim cleric to call the faithful to prayer and lead the community's service. Since they had found no one to fill the position Hamdani offered his services – claiming he too was of the Muslim faith.
His voice reverberated across the town every day at dawn calling the faithful to prayer, and on Friday he led the Muslim service. He filled this position until 1943 and over the years had amassed great wealth, which included 40 homes, two hotels and a movie theatre, among other properties. He married a local Muslim woman and fathered seven children.
"In 1943 he suddenly stopped going to the mosque and somehow communicated to his flock that he was in fact of the Jewish faith," Lourie wrote in his letter. "This of course caused much of an uproar in the city but by then, Hamdani was already too rich and well established and protected by people who had ironclad interests on the one hand and by the African propensity not to take anything too much to heart, so the matter was forgotten and many still recognize his contribution to the Muslim cause in Fort Lami."
The Ambassador said he was hoping to convince Hamdani to contribute to his own people by perhaps financing a building to house the Israeli embassy in Chad, a school for children of Persian descent or at least to donate to the Israel National Fund. "I know that despite building luxurious homes, Hamdani still lives in a mud hut, as he had done for the past 25 years while the income from his many properties reaches 12 million CFA, the equivalent of 150,000 Israeli pounds, per month," Lourie wrote. The Ambassador copied the Israeli embassy in Tehran and in Paris on his letter.