web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Nigeria’s Igbo Jews

Many Igbo, even while practicing Christianity, nonetheless consider themselves Jewish.

Nigerian Igbo people.

Nigerian Igbo people.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jeff L. Lieberman, RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria

Jewish education for adults and children in Abuja revolves around the three Igbo synagogues found in the sprawling city of almost 2 million people. The largest of these, Gihon Hebrews’ Synagogue, constructed in 2005, is headed by Elder Peter Agbai, a gentle but energetic retired geologist.

Gihon’s spokesman, Azuka Pinchas Ogbukaa, tasked with cultivating relationships with other Jewish communities, is a businessman from a royal Igbo family. “Right now we are trying to get the traditions right, to do things the right way,” said Ogbukaa. “For us, education is the most important thing.”

“When I see adults and elders struggling to learn alongside the younger ones, I find encouragement for my efforts and know I must work harder,” Eben Cohen told me and Nwafor, who urged him to continue to teach, despite the challenges.

“We must make sacrifices if we are to establish ourselves,” Nwafor said.

In order to thrive in Nigeria, its Igbo Jews must be sturdier and more resilient than Nwafor’s felled cashew tree.

The Igbo Jews’ small numbers — perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 in a country of 175 million — do not concern them, especially as they view themselves as part of the wider Jewish world, but their remoteness from other Jewish communities complicates matters.

“We are adherents of the Jewish faith in Nigeria. We are neither Christian nor Muslim,” said Pinchas Ogbukaa, seated in the shade of Nwafor’s hut. “Belonging to neither of those faiths is not even the problem. The greatest of all the challenges we are facing is that of isolation. Bridges of Jewish education and worship have to be built, connecting us with other communities in the United States and Israel.”

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Providence Journal.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Nigeria’s Igbo Jews”

  1. Shemayah Shiloh Phillips says:

    That’s what we need is more “Christian Jews” almost as much as Nazi Jews or Satanist Jews.

  2. pamgreen says:

    How soon before the Islamists destroy them?  There are only 5000 of them.  They should be invited to emigrate to Israel.

  3. Ben Omonoyan says:

    THANKS TO ADONAI THE NIGERIAN IGBOS ARE REDISCOVERING THEIR JEWISH ROOTS…

  4. Violet Helms says:

    Shemaya Shiloh Phillips, I echo your sentiment. They may have a few of the trappings, but if they have chosen to worship another god, they are NOT Jews. Just because the Pope wears a Kippah it does make him Jewish.

  5. Following the roots – Abraham.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.
Netanyahu Visits Western Wall before Leaving for US
Latest Indepth Stories
Netanyahu in a previous address to Congress-

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Korenblit-022715

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

Councilman David Greenfield

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

Levmore-022715

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question

Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well

Believing a few “extremists” hijacked Islam is myopic in history and geography, numbers and scope

More Articles from Guest Author
Havdalah

Havdalah.com will be streaming an inspiring/live/MUSICAL/global Havdalah(NOT to fulfill obligation)

idc

The interdisciplinary center has created an educational system that combines academic tuition with a strong commitment to social issues.

Israel’s political system prevents bold economic reforms. Economist Gilad Alper offers 5 grand moves

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

I prayed throughout. My plan is to make Aliya and I pray my family can join me in Israel quickly

It has been a very challenging year that has taken a toll on the Cohen family.

I was touched by his words on the struggle to stand up for Israel.

A Tribute to Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt zt”l

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/nigerias-igbo-jews/2013/08/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: