Spotlight on Other Communities: the Igbo Jews of Nigeria
Shavei Israel’s mission is to reach out to “lost” and “hidden” Jews around the world. From Poland to Peru, Barcelona to Brazil, Shavei Israel helps descendants of Jews reconnect with the people and State of Israel. In addition to these groups, there are a number of fascinating Jewish communities that we profile on our website, even though we don’t work with them directly. In this new series as part of the “Roots” newsletter, we’d like to turn the spotlight now on these “Other Communities.”
This week, we introduce you to the Igbo Jews of Nigeria. They call themselves the “Benei-Yisrael,” but are part of a larger ethnic group known as Igbo. Most Igbo Jews live in an area which straddles the River Niger. The Igbo Jews are said to have migrated from Syria, Portugal and Libya into West Africa around 740 C.E. It is claimed that the initial immigrants were from the biblical tribes of Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali. Later, they were joined by more Jewish immigrants from Portugal and Libya in 1484 and 1667 respectively.
You can read more about the Igbo Jews on our website, where we’ve also posted pictures and video. In addition to our article, the Times of Israel had a good piece on the community earlier this year, as did the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which reviewed the book “Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey” by William F.S. Miles.