|B Miles and Hezekiah during Hanukkah
Hanukkah has always been a period of great joy for Jews all over the world, in remembrance of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The eight days festival symbolically represents the eight days the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned after the Temple was purified, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting. Joining the rest of the Jews around the globe to mark this memorable occasion from Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja- we celebrated it in style and most importantly with our guest from the United States. Professor William Miles has just come down from the Republic of Niger where he went to visit some friends, and then joined us for the remaining days of the feast of Hanukkah. This would mark his third Hanukkah in Abuja in the last 10 years or so.
The Journey to The East
The story of the Travelling Torah was the initial movement that sought to strengthen the Judaism network throughout Eastern Nigeria starting from Anambra State. In the middle of 2017, Sar Habakkuk travelled and reached out to over seven synagogues in eastern Nigeria and Delta State, carrying the Torah along with him. During the tour, he attended a couple of Jewish occasions including Bar/Bart Mitzvahs, making it possible for many people especially Jewish children to see the Sefar Torah for the very first time.
Shortly after Hanukkah in Abuja, all has been planned to uphold this movement by returning back to the east, but this time around in the company of Professor Miles. Putting the plans into motion would see the professor venturing beyond the north for the first time, into the heartland of the Igbo Jews. The trip from Abuja to Anambra State is approximately 450 kilometers overland, and would take about 7 to 10 hours due to traffic and other road factors. The tour around Anambra State was slated for only seven days, and seven synagogues would be visited, including the palace of two highly placed Igbo traditional kings.
Summary of the Tour around Anambra
The following synagogue was visited by Professor William Miles in the company of Sar Habakkuk, all in Anambra State:
- Divine Seed Synagogue, Neni
- Beney Yisraael Synagogue, Nnewi
- The Visit of Professor Williams Miles to Avishai Synagogue in Nkpor
- Melek Kevot Synagogue, Nnewi
- Torah Haqadosh Jewish Congregation, Awka
- Shabbath keeping in Beth Shalom Knesset Synagogue Awka
Related Post: Two Hebrew Men Visit the Palace of Two Traditional Kings in Eastern Nigeria
|Shalom From Yaounde in Cameroon
The next phase of the Judaism movement will be extended to the neighboring country, which is Cameroon. From Nnewi we hired a car and traveled through Enugu and Ebonyi State, down to the border area at Ikom in Cross River State- covering at least another 200 kilometers.
Sar Habakkuk and Prof. William in Yaounde
At Mfom, there’s a bridge over a deep river valley separating Nigeria and Cameroon. Going across the bridge and successfully clearing through all the border security checks, I heard Professor William said “Baruk Hashem.” It has been a long road travelled so far, and for him it would be his third country of visit in the month of December.
We spent the night at Ekok, a small border community in Cameroon to catch our breath and prepare for the 600 kilometers road trip to Yaoundé early the following day which was after Christmas. Sadly for me, my journey ended at this point. So, I bade them farewell in the morning and returned back into Nigeria- very happy anyway to have been part of this historic movement.
How excited to later hear from Sar Habakkuk that their visit to Yaounde was truly amazing and the Jewish community they met there were wonderful people. They kept the next Shabbat in the synagogue at Yaounde and did enjoy every bit of time spent with the Jewish brothers and sisters in Cameroon. He described them as lovely and very hospital people throughout their stay in that country. The venture of both men to discover and extend the love of Judaism from the United States and Nigeria, to the community in Cameroon has been hailed by everyone back here at home as simply astonishing. Hence, opening the road for further collaborations geared towards connecting the Jews around West Africa and Central Africa for the growth of Judaism in general.