Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Joins Cast of 'Game of Thrones' (New Character Not in Novels) + 'Trumbo' Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Joins Cast of 'Game of Thrones' (New Character Not in Novels) + 'Trumbo' Watch Now: Paramount Premieres Trailer for Chris Rock's Showbiz Comedy 'Top Five' Watch Now: Paramount Premieres Trailer for Chris Rock's Showbiz Comedy 'Top Five' Review: 'Dear White People' (A Cinematic Answer to the Year of the "Race-Themed" Film) Review: 'Dear White People' (A Cinematic Answer to the Year of the "Race-Themed" Film) Interview: Justin Simien Talks Racial Politics in 'Dear White People' + Hopes for Black Cinema's Future Interview: Justin Simien Talks Racial Politics in 'Dear White People' + Hopes for Black Cinema's Future Did You Know: The Miles Davis Film Spike Lee & Wesley Snipes Almost Made, Written by Charles Fuller Did You Know: The Miles Davis Film Spike Lee & Wesley Snipes Almost Made, Written by Charles Fuller Nick Cannon Joins Cast of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' to Play Andre Braugher's "Handsome, Educated, Charming" Son Nick Cannon Joins Cast of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' to Play Andre Braugher's "Handsome, Educated, Charming" Son Watch *Epic* New York Comic-Con Trailer For Adult Swim's New Comedy Series, 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Watch *Epic* New York Comic-Con Trailer For Adult Swim's New Comedy Series, 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Sean Penn Puts Post-Earthquake Haiti In Focus In New Feature Doc 'Haiti Untold' - Now Streaming on Netflix Sean Penn Puts Post-Earthquake Haiti In Focus In New Feature Doc 'Haiti Untold' - Now Streaming on Netflix How is 'The Equalizer' Doing Overseas? Very Well, Thank You... How is 'The Equalizer' Doing Overseas? Very Well, Thank You... In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People South African Comedian Trevor Noah Joins 'Daily Show' Crew. His Showtime Special ('African American') Is Streaming on Netflix South African Comedian Trevor Noah Joins 'Daily Show' Crew. His Showtime Special ('African American') Is Streaming on Netflix Watch Documentary 'Rise of the Black Pharaohs' - PBS Digs Into Kushite History Watch Documentary 'Rise of the Black Pharaohs' - PBS Digs Into Kushite History TV One Airs First-Ever Original, Scripted Work of Horror - Trilogy Titled 'The Fright Night Files' TV One Airs First-Ever Original, Scripted Work of Horror - Trilogy Titled 'The Fright Night Files' Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place 'Lucy' and the Absence of the Black Race in Origin of Humanity Theories 'Lucy' and the Absence of the Black Race in Origin of Humanity Theories Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding Third 'Best Man' Movie Gets a Title, an Official 2016 Release Date & A Most Unexpected Wedding My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Samuel L. Jackson: '12 Years A Slave' Proof That Hollywood Still Isn't Ready To Deal w/ Racism Samuel L. Jackson: '12 Years A Slave' Proof That Hollywood Still Isn't Ready To Deal w/ Racism Darryl Roberts' 'America The Beautiful 3' Scheduled For Release Later This Year (The Last Of The True Independents) Darryl Roberts' 'America The Beautiful 3' Scheduled For Release Later This Year (The Last Of The True Independents)

Review: 'RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria' Inspires w/ Passion, Knowledge & Conviction

Shadow and Act By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act May 23, 2013 at 10:41PM

Review: 'RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria' Inspires w/ Passion, Knowledge & Conviction
7
Re-emerging: the jews of nigeria

It might seem like a far fetched idea to people in Africa and all over the world. Some prominent members of the Jewish community say the link between the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and today's Igbos is a myth. What would propel thousands of Igbo people in Nigeria (and growing) to believe they are really Jews, who descended from "Eri", the 5th son of GAD; the latter who was the 7th son of Jacob, whose sons fathered the 12 Tribes of Israel?

Jeff Lieberman's new documentary, RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria, follows the quest for knowledge of Igbo roots in Judaism through Schmuel (Schmuel Tkvah ben Yaacov), a charismatic and eloquent young leader in the Nigerian Jewish community. Schmuel grew up Catholic, although his parents weren't particularly fervent about religion in general. During his childhood, the naturally inquisitive Schmuel was taught that Jews were doomed because they didn't believe in Jesus. He later realized that his faith in Jesus was more about feeling safe from eternal damnation than anything else. His interest in Judaism peaked after graduation and upon meeting "Benjamin", a Nigerian Jew who challenged his belief of Jesus as savior with Judaic teachings.

However, there is an oral tradition passed down through generations of some of Nigeria's Igbo people, whose identity was deeply impacted by British colonization and Christianity. There seems to be commonalities between the Jews and Igbos: eating fish with scales, not eating pork, slaughtering animals the kosher way, circumcision on the 8th day, resting days, marriage rites, among others. There are also similar words with the same meaning in Hebrew and Igbo; like for example, the word "Igbo" is said to derive from the Hebrew word "Ivrim", which may be a corruption of the Igbo word "Ibri". 

One of the most resonant and moving aspects is the arrival of Rabbi Howard Gorin, who has come from Washington D.C.  to Nigeria to visit the synagogue led by Elder Habbakkuk, who by the way, has grown close to young Schmuel and has allowed him to live in the premises. The Igbos hope that Rabbi Gorin "strengthens" their faith in Judaism. It's almost ironic that the faith of Rabbi Gorin, who was impressed by how advanced in their teachings the Igbos were, seemed to have been strengthened by the Igbo Jews' commitment, knowledge and command of the Hebrew language instead.

After the film, director Lieberman said he wanted to tell the story from these Igbo villagers' point of view and in their voice. He wanted to document a representation of many Nigerians that people around the world are not aware of. Aside from their faith, these are remarkable and intelligent individuals, whose passion and dedication for knowledge are admirable. Western ideals of wealth are irrelevant to these villagers, who are spiritually wealthy.

The documentary is much about these Igbos reconnecting with their alleged Jewish identity as much as it is about Igbo culture as a whole. And, it's also just as much about African descendants all over the world. RE-EMERGING, straightforward in its narration, gives a relatively thorough historical account of the Igbos during colonization, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and presence of Igbo heritage in America, independence from British rule, Biafran War and more. There are many unanswered questions about the missing link between Igbos and The Lost Tribes of Israel, whose alleged Igbo descendants may have migrated to Nigeria. Did the descendants of GAD travel via Ethiopia, then Cameroon? Through Morocco, then Mali, and then straight to Nigeria?

There are several intriguing theories between the two groups; none of which can be proven 100 percent. And regardless of what one's convictions may be, at least for this writer, none of it mattered. RE-EMERGING is told with conviction and passion. There is a palpable thirst for knowledge of all things Judaic; the meticulous perfectionism of these Igbo people in these remote villages to master its practices, along with the need to learn the Hebrew language are quite fascinating to watch.

Controversy will sure follow the viewing of RE-EMERGING; religion has never been an easy topic to broach. I am curious of how the documentary will be received upon reaching more sizable audiences.

Re-Emerging is in theaters at New York's Quad Cinema (34 W 13th Street) until the end of this week, with two shows daily at 1pm and 7pm. For tickets and more information go to the film's web page at http://www.re-emergingfilm.com.

T

This article is related to: Reviews


Shadow & ActNewsletter