Thursday, June 20, 2013


Have you heard about the latest discovery of a "Lost Tribe of Israel?" This time in Nigeria? I saw nothing about the "Jews of Ibo" in the JFNA Budget but I have no doubt that the following events will now occur:
  1. An organization will soon form with JFNA's encouragement -- the North American Conference on Nigerian Jewry" or "CON" or "NACONJ." It will become the continental advocate for aliya for this Lost Tribe with the Government of Israel. The CON-jobbers will raise no money, of course, and neither will JFNA, of course, but they will raise quite a fuss.
  2. A compound will be established in Nigeria -- in Ajuba, the capital, no doubt -- for the estimated (as of right now) 3,000 Ibo Jews. The compound will be run jointly (I know, I know) by the JDC and the Jewish Agency, of course. And, Ajuba will become a JFNA Mission destination for multiple trips a fund raising, of course.
  3. JFNA will promise to raise the entire cost of maintaining the compound and for the cost of aliya of the 3,000 members of the Lost Tribe and JFNA's leaders will promise that "it's just 3,000 and no more."
  4. JFNA will raise $100,000 of the estimated $3 million dollar cost, even after sending numerous letters to the federations of North America pleading that we "Complete the Journey." (That toolkit is filed under "Failure")
  5. JFNA will tell the Jewish Agency and JDC that (a), we are sorry but that's all we could raise but (b) keep the Ajuba Compound open as now another 10,000 Nigerians claim to be MOTs -- "and they will be the last."
Yes, of course, this could be a nothing more than a bad joke...except:

"Are the Ibo people of Nigeria a lost tribe of Israel? A longstanding tradition among the Ibo says they are, and points to similarities in Ibo and Jewish cultures: a prescribed day of rest, circumcision (male, that is), the prohibition of pork. And now some Ibo have embraced Judaism, considering it the religion of their ancestors.

According to Jeff L. Lieberman’s uneven documentary “Re-emerging: The Jews of Nigeria,” the number of Jews there is small: fewer than 3,000. That’s hardly a tsunami in Africa’s most populous country, with more than 162 million people, or even among the Ibo, whose numbers have been estimated at anywhere from 20 million to 50 million, depending on the source. (Mr. Lieberman says 25 million.) The Ibo in the film are shown living Jewish lives, learning Hebrew, praying and reading Torah, and they are obviously sincere and committed. Their evident joy in Judaism is moving and unexpected.
Mr. Lieberman has a photogenic hero in the thoughtful Shmuel Tikvah Ben Yaacov (formerly Samuel Chukwuma), who grew up Roman Catholic but whose questioning led him to Judaism. His goal: to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. His problem: a lack of money. (American and especially Israeli Jewish groups have not been quick to embrace the Ibo.)

“Re-emerging” can be pedestrian as filmmaking, though it remains interesting as long as it remains in Nigeria. But segments about African-Americans of Ibo descent belong in a different film, one about the Ibo diaspora. And Mr. Lieberman comically overreaches in suggesting that Nigeria’s tiny Jewish movement could have a large impact on black American life. Is ancestry necessarily destiny?" (NYT, May 16, 2013, "Keeping Kosher in Nigeria, a Tiny But Fervent Minority.")

Soon to be at a theater near you.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hysterical and so true. JFNA keeps running Missions to Ethiopia rather than raising the money to help the actual completion of the effort. All talk, no action. They ought to be ashamed...but, as you have pointed out, they have no shame.