web analytics
August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Rhode Island Synagogues to Host Nigerian Guests on Sukkot

Gihon’s members are Nigerians who have embraced Judaism, but have not gone through a formal conversion process.
Elder Peter Agbai (in center, with cap), leader of Gihon Synagogue, and Elder Habakkuk Nwafor (to his right) at a gathering welcoming the author to Abuja.

Elder Peter Agbai (in center, with cap), leader of Gihon Synagogue, and Elder Habakkuk Nwafor (to his right) at a gathering welcoming the author to Abuja.
Photo Credit: Shai Afsai

By Shai Afsai

Representatives of Nigeria’s Gihon Synagogue will celebrate Sukkot in Rhode Island

Elder Peter Agbai, the leader of Abuja’s Gihon Synagogue, and Pinchas Ogbukaa, Gihon’s spokesman, will be traveling to Rhode Island in September to celebrate Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, following an invitation from Providence’s Congregation Beth Sholom (a modern Orthodox synagogue) and Temple Emanu-El (a Conservative synagogue).

Gihon’s members are Nigerians who have embraced Judaism, but have not gone through a formal conversion process. Many believe themselves to be descendants of a lost tribe of ancient Israelites. Gihon has had an active congregation in Abuja since the early 1990s, and built its current synagogue structure in 2005. Elder Agbai assumed the leadership of Gihon Synagogue after retiring as Assistant Director of Geology for Nigeria’s Federal Capital Development Authority in 2006.

I was welcomed at Gihon Synagogue when I journeyed to Abuja this past February. In going there I had followed in the footsteps of Northeastern University professor William (Bill) Miles, a member of Temple Emanu-El and the author of the recently-published Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey, who spent time at Gihon in 2009 and 2011. His book includes ten pages of interviews with Elders Agbai and Ogbukaa.

Congregation Beth Sholom’s Rabbi Barry Dolinger, and Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Wayne Franklin and Rabbi Elan Babchuck have been eager to reciprocate the hospitality shown in Abuja to their members. The three rabbis hope the September visit from Nigeria will strengthen the ties between the Abuja and Providence congregations, while affording Elder Agbai and Ogbukaa the opportunity to learn more about Rhode Island’s Jewish community and its institutions.

At the same time, the rabbis also believe that Rhode Island Jewry can learn from those now practicing Judaism in Abuja. “These people are serious,” said Rabbi Franklin. “We should be as dedicated and enthusiastic to learn as they are.”

One of the main difficulties confronting the members of Gihon and Tikvat Israel (another Nigerian synagogue in Abuja) is their distance from world Jewry. “We are adherents of the Jewish faith in Nigeria. We are neither Christian nor Muslim,” said Ogbukaa concerning the purpose of traveling to Rhode Island. “The greatest of all the challenges we are facing is that of isolation.”

Ogbukaa hopes the holiday visit will help break the community’s isolation and raise more awareness that there are people practicing Judaism in Nigeria. “Bridges of Jewish education and worship have to be built, connecting us with other communities in the United States and Israel,” he said.

Although Gihon’s members try to follow the practices of Orthodox Judaism, as it is understood in Nigeria, Elder Agbai and Ogbukaa are pleased to soon have the chance to meet Temple Emanu-El’s rabbis and congregants as well. “We believe that the acceptance of the Torah binds all Jews together as one, irrespective of being Orthodox, Conservative, etc. The type of congregation is a matter of choice. Each has something positive to contribute to the growth of world Jewry,” said Ogbukaa.

In addition to spending time at Congregation Beth Sholom and Temple Emanu-El and studying with its rabbis, Elder Agbai and Ogbukaa will be attending services at Providence’s Sha’arei Tefilla (an Orthodox synagogue on the East Side); meeting with students at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island (JCDSRI); and going to see Rabbi Marc Mandel, the spiritual leader of Touro Synagogue.

The Newport synagogue is of special interest to the two men, as it is not only the oldest in the United States, but was also built according to Sephardi custom, and Gihon’s members try to follow Edot Hamizrach traditions.

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.

2 Responses to “Rhode Island Synagogues to Host Nigerian Guests on Sukkot”

  1. Michael Bharier says:

    Kol Hakavod

  2. Michael Bharier says:

    Kol Hakavod

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tourist injured by Muslim mob on Temple Mount on August 4, 2015
Arabs Beat Up Tourist on Temple Mount [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
David Menachem Gordon

David was many things: Brother, son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, talmid, comrade, AND a WARRIOR

Graffiti at Duma home that was torched in Samara.

Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.

On-The-Bookshelf-logo

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

Saltsman-073115

“Isn’t it enough that the whole world hates us? WHy do we have to hate each other?”

Who said Kerry won no concessions from Iran? He secured pistachios and Beluga caviar for America!

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“The fear of being exposed publicly is the only thing that will stop people,” observed Seewald.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

More Articles from Guest Author
Pres. Rivlin and PM Netanyahu with the justices of the Supreme Court

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

.

On the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’av, a reflection on the dangerous deal with Iran

Peace garnered by appeasing terrorists last because they will hunger for more victims.

A year after Operation Protective Edge, the Lone Soldier Center continues its care of these soldiers

Under-12 Israel National Baseball Team will compete in Italy in a great international competition

Foreshadowing occurs in real life too when the Omniscient cracks open a window for us to the future

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rhode-island-synagogues-to-host-nigerian-guests-on-sukkot/2013/09/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: