Bob Marley's Granddaughter Visits Israel

Published: February 17th 2010

Donisha Prendergast
Pic: Scarlett Media
Donisha with Ras Daniel and crew
Pic: Scarlett Media
Donisha at a studio in Israel
Pic: Scarlett Media


This past weekend, in recognition of Black History Month, Shalom Life had the opportunity to chat with Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of reggae legend Bob Marley.


Her visit to Toronto was to share news of a documentary in production called Rasta, a project that delves into the movement that inspired her grandfather to write some of his most powerful songs. Her journey takes the audience to the Rastafarian communities in Canada, Africa, India, Jamaica, England and Israel, gaining insight while recognizing the strong parallels between cultures.


In Israel, her journey introduced her to Kibbutz Tze’elim (“Jamaica in the desert”), located in the northern Negev. “I didn’t expect to see Rastas in Israel – who would have thought?” shared Donisha. In 1986, Bob Marley performed in Eshkol Park in a reggae festival called “Voice from the Third World,” a milestone event that transformed some of the residents of the kibbutz to adopt the ways of Rasta culture. Eventually, the remaining members of the Kibbutz followed suit.


“Jews and Rastas, how are we similar?” wondered Donisha. At this point, she revealed a Star of David that she was wearing on a long chain necklace. “This is the Star of David. It is one of the main symbols of Rastafari, but it’s one of the main symbols in Judaism as well.” She realized the uncanny parallel and needed to investigate it further. In her search, she quickly discovered that Rastafari indeed mirrored Judaism, in more ways than one. She went on to outline the humble way of life her fellow Rastafarians in Israel lived; their diet and shared family values. “So it all started to make sense as to why there were Rasta’s in Israel.” And when she questioned the residents of Kibbutz Tze’elim about being a Rasta, they responded with, “Reggae music brought it to us. When we heard the music, there was something about it that we identified with and we didn’t know what it was, and when we saw Bob Marley with the dreadlocks and symbols [Star of David], we recognized a kinship and began to lock [dreadlock] our hair.” And although the inhabitants of the kibbutz have adopted and drawn inspiration from an aspect of the Rasta lifestyle – one love and unity- they do not worship Emperor Halle Selassie, the Second Advent.


Emperor Halle Selassie, born Ras Tafari Makonnen, is a direct descendant from Makeda, the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of ancient Israel. He granted 500 acres in Sheshamane, Ethiopia as a gesture of acknowledgement to the disapora to return and make a life in their homeland. This land was gifted in 1948, the same year the State of Israel was established. Unfortunately, few have made the journey to Sheshamane and even fewer have settled there, whereas approximately six millions Jews have returned to Israel to date. “The similarities were startling at first. I couldn’t understand if the Jews borrowed it from us or if we borrowed it from them. I didn’t know, but what I realized is that we are all brothers and sisters.


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