Saturday, October 31, 2020 -
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Nigerian Jewish youth connect, study

An Igbo boy studying a Jewish text in Onithsa, Nigeria. (Ron Manne/Shavei Israel)

More than 250 Nigerian youth and 20 adults gathered in late August in Onithsa for a national week-long Jewish leadership and learning seminar organized by Shavei Israel, activist and educator Danny Limor, and the Nigerian Jewish Youth Movement.

The seminar included classes in Hebrew and Torah, lectures, Shabbat activities, singing and dancing.

There are about 70 Igbo Jewish communities in Nigeria, founded at different times, but the first and biggest  in Lagos has existed for more than 20 years.

Most of the communities have at least one place of study or synagogue where members gather for daily and Shabbat services.

The Igbo are one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups, and among them is a minority of some 4,000 people practicing Judaism and defining themselves as the descendants of a Lost Tribe of Israel.

“In recent years, a growing number of Igbo in Nigeria have chosen to embrace Judaism and seek to learn more about the culture, faith and heritage of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund.

“We’re working closely with the growing numbers of Igbo Jewish communities now flourishing in places such as Lagos, Abuja and Anambra state.”

That includes training programs for young community leaders, seminars on Jewish belief and practice, religious items and other guidance and support, in coordination with Shavei Israel’s emissary to Nigeria, Gadi Bentley.

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