Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: The Igbo Jews of Nigeria


Over the years there have been reports of thousands of Africans living in Nigeria and practicing Judaism. 

Several years ago, the Internet was introduced into the more rural parts of southeast Nigeria. As it has done for so many people around the world, it opened the eyes of a few young Igbo people and began answering some difficult questions of identity. For Shmuel (who was then called Sam), the nagging question he wanted answered was whether there was any truth to the long-told lore that the Igbo people were once Jews. 

He began by comparing Hebrew traditions to Igbo traditions, and what he found astounded him. The similarities were so convincing that it sent him off on a journey in the quest to find other Igbo who might be practicing Judaism.

RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria is a documentary journey into the heart of Igboland and into the lives and culture of the Igbo people. The film introduces the world to the many synagogues that dot the land, and a handful of passionate, committed, and diverse characters -- each striving to fulfill their historical legacy with few resources and unbeknownst to most of the world.

The film is making its debut at the 92nd Street Y on the East Side of Manhattan on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:15 pm. A panel discussion including filmmaker Jeff Lieberman will follow the screening.

Here's a preview of the film. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)