A new documentary film on the “Igbo Jews of Nigeria” has launched and aims to spotlight the Igbo’s Jewish heritage.
“RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria”is a 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. Individual stories are woven together with key facets of history, tracing the Igbo from Biblical times up to the brutal 1960s Biafran War, which killed over 1 million Igbo. A wide range of American academics help detail this history, including shedding new light on the Igbo origins of thousands of slaves captured during the Atlantic Slave Trade and brought to American shores. The film delves into this history and travels to the southeast coast of Georgia, where locals still speak of the Igbo spirit alive and well at a riverbed called Ibo Landing.
The individuals featured in the film also demonstrate that incredible Igbo spirit. Shmuel is a young man whose story exemplifies the journey toward finding Judaism. Today, he is a leader in his community who teaches and chants Torah, and has big dreams of one day becoming a rabbi. But like almost every Igbo, he grew up surrounded by Christian colonialism, and the road to discovery has been fraught with misunderstanding, wrong turns into Messianic worship, family exile, violent prejudice from both Muslim and Christian neighbors, scorn from Jews he has contacted in the Western world, and frustration of a lack of funds to further educate himself through Internet access. Yet, it’s also been an amazing discovery of community, and furthered with the love of an American rabbi who has been working with both him and the larger community to see their dreams become a reality.
For more information, visit www.re-emergingfilm.com or watch the video below.