Wednesday 29 August 2018


By Abraham Ben Abraham

Ahead of the journey to the east, announcements were made in the synagogue for two consecutive weeks. So once again, it was another memorable moment to be attending another Bar Mitzvah in Delta State this August. It’ll not be the first time members of Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja will be invited to Asaba the capital. There was a Bar Mitzvah around this same period last year, and we attended the ceremony with the Sefar Torah. Indeed it was part of the mission of strengthening the Judaism Network in Eastern Nigeria embarked upon by Sar Habakkuk starting from last year.

Sar Habakkuk during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Asaba
 Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja has continued to play a lead role- pushing towards a united platform and growth of Judaism. The first thing to notice upon visiting the synagogue located in Kubwa is the New Face of the Synagogue. The ongoing construction has visibly changed and turned the entire compound into a different new look. 

However, before the journey to Delta State I managed to sit down with the Rosh, Sar Habakkuk, to ask him some questions; reflecting on the past, the present, and what’s about to come. 

1. I started by asking him how it all began. What was his early contact with Judaism like?
Tracing back to the very start, he recalled it was a brother “Kish” who first introduced him to Judaism in 2003. Although at that time, there were limited numbers of materials available to learn more details about the Hebrew Traditions and majority of the prayers conducted entirely in English language. But everything did suddenly changed with the coming of Rabbi Gorin to Nigeria in 2004, which became the turning point in History that lead to the early spread of Judaism around the Igbo region of Nigeria. “Rabbi Gorin visited me in Kubwa Abuja and spent some few days with us,” he recalled. There was indeed plenty things learned from this great man during the brief moment he stayed with us.

Donations of large copies of Jewish prayer books and other materials, including books written about the history of the Jews was among the remarkable things done by the Rabbi. Other significant impact also made was the building of schools, libraries, and giving the Sefar Torah to a Synagogue in Akwa Ibom State (Southern Nigeria). This is the reason till date I continue to Acknowledge Rabbi Gorin For his selfless contribution to the growth of Judaism In Nigeria.

2. What you do before the switch to Judaism?

Before the switching over to Judaism, I was playing the role of a High Priest under the Messianic circle which was predominant at that time. Animal Burnt sacrifices were common during the early days until he came to the revelation that sacrifices can only be made in the Temple (the place chosen by the Holy One of Israel) according to the Torah. Hence, since the Temple in Jerusalem no longer stands, the idea of abandoning the offering of burnt sacrifice became more understandable.

3. How would you describe the spread of Judaism in Present day Nigeria?

His reply was a brief one- we’re growing every day by the number. The children are also growing and many now being born directly into the faith. How exciting to witness more and more Bar/Bart Mitzvah happening in several synagogues. It’s a true indication that Judaism is on the path of growth in Nigeria. 

4. You began the mission to strengthen the Judaism Network in Eastern Nigeria last year by touring several synagogues in the east with the Sefar Torah. What has been the impact so far?

“The essence of the tour was to identify with other Jewish Synagogues in order to extend a hand of cooperation among the Igbo Jews living in the east and beyond,” he said.  Thanks to the books donated by some of our Jewish friends in America- many beneficiaries were happy to receive these free materials; to boost their knowledge about Jewish customs and traditions. Taking the Sefar Torah which is the symbol of Judaism, to a number of synagogues helped to bind us together and establish the fact of our oneness in Judaism.

      The visit of Professor William Miles to Avishai Synagogue Nkpor and the Sabath Keeping in Beth Shalom Knesset Awka were also part of the mission to strengthen the growth of Judaism in Nigeria and make the Igbo Jews more united. As you know, Hezekiah is also currently on teaching tour- going beyond Eastern Nigeria further into the Southern region and Lagos in the West. So far, the overall impact has been positive and encouraging.
    5. What are the challenges facing most of the Nigerian Jews?

Based on most of my travels around, my findings and from the interaction with the Rosh of several synagogues as well as members both the young and the elderly ones; there are many challenges but let me briefly mention just a few general and the most pressing ones:
Lucy Steinitz At Tikvat Israel  SynagogueAbuja last Yom Kippur

  • Discrimination within the society by others especially the non-Jew
  • Majority of the youths are not gainfully employed
  • Some of the lucky ones who are employed can be subjected to work on the Shabath and other Sacred Feast for fear of losing their jobs
  • Absence of a practical Hebrew school for learning how to read, write and speak the Hebrew tongue fluently.
  • Most of the Synagogues cannot afford to get a Sefar Torah of their own.
  • Many Jewish Children skip the ceremony of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah due to the absence of the Sefar Torah within the location of their Synagogue. 
  • No real Jewish-owned job creation or skill acquisition centers in the country to offer valuable practical training to our Jewish brothers interested in adding value to themselves and enable them adapt economically to an extent.

6.   Do you think it’s about time the first ever Jewish settlement community should be established in Nigeria?

“Absolutely yes, Nigeria is ripe for that and of course it’s long overdue,” he replied.  
There are vast areas of uninhabited lands especially within Eastern Nigeria that can serve the purpose of housing a significant number of Jews living together as one community. We have the growing numbers and the idea of living together, supporting each other, working together in our businesses and putting our kids through the rightful pathways early in life is already being shared by many.
He ended by stating his wish to see this coming into existence in the near future. 

7. Tell me about the ongoing construction project which has indeed given the surrounding of the synagogue a new face.

The ongoing project is indeed a thing of joy to all the members of the Synagogues, and could be completed by the end of November.
The Guest House was initially started by Sar Habakkuk in 2013 and stopped around 2015 due to lack of capital and the need to focus more on the project of expansion of the synagogue's main building. Upon the completion of this visitor's lounge, it would be named as Rabbi Wayne Franklin Guest Quarters.   
   8. Finally, I believe there’re a number of people you wish to thank in appreciation for their contribution to the growing success we have seen?

Others I also wish to thank are Daniel Limo for bringing us some Tefelins a couple of years ago. I’m also grateful to Judy Manelis and others for their generous donations of Jewish books that have been distributed in several numbers of synagogues throughout Nigeria.
Also worth mentioning is Lucy Steinitz for the assistance given to Hezekaih while he was on transit in Addis Ababa on his way to Uganda. She was also here in Nigeria last year during the Yom Kippur, conveying some copies of the Hebrew Prayers books.
Others include Michael Freud, Naomi, the former Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, and many others who have made a strong impact that contributed to the overall successes we have achieved so far. I’m forever indebted to every one of you.

Friday 17 August 2018


By Abraham Ben Abraham

The unique thing about the Jews is how they have been set apart by “the Almighty” to become His own people following the covenant made with our father Avraham. Long before the laws were given by Moshe, Hashem promised to make the children of Avraham a great nation and people if they continue to observe all as commanded by the Holy One of Israel. There are numerous blessings mentioned in the Torah as the inheritance of God’s children who remain on the path chosen by the Most High. 

The Sefar Torah
Among the laws given by the Almighty creator of the heavens and the earth- are the yearly Jewish festivals and other important ceremonies observed by Jews around the world. The commandments for most of these biblical feasts were given thousands of years ago. And as a perpetual covenant between Hashem and His people, it’ll be celebrated from generation to generations, and must be taught to the younger ones to carry on with the traditions.

The Nigerian Jews are certainly not left out, in celebrating and observing the Hebrew traditions and festivals in fulfillment to the words of Hashem. In this post, let me walk you through three important Jewish feasts celebrated in the course of the year in Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja

The Feast Of Pesach

This is regarded as one of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar, known by many as the feast of Passover. The Pesach is celebrated in remembrance of how Moshe freed the Israelite from slavery under the reign of the Egyptian Pharaohs, after hundreds of years of slavery. According to the Torah- after the people of Egypt were plagued with bloodied water, swarms of frogs and locusts, boils, darkness and the death of every firstborn son- Pharaoh eventually relented and allowed the enslaved Jews to leave Egypt. 

The Pesach for this year started on Friday March 30th and observed accordingly for eight days. In the course of the celebration, all Jewish homes get rid of all traces of wheat and only permitted to eat only “matzah” which is commonly known as the unleavened bread. Traditionally, the Matzah is viewed as the bread of the poor, and is symbolically eaten to remind the Jews about the hardship faced by their ancestors during the exodus. 

Service was held each day in Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja to mark the duration of the entire festival. Just like the previous Pesach, certainly it was a time of coming together to remember our roots of origin- how the Almighty father brought out our ancestors out of bondage, leading them through the wilderness, and up to the Promised Land. It was also a time for offering prayers and continue to seek the favor of Hashem to receive the blessings of success, progress, growth, greatness and abundant wealth for all Israel; as promised in the Torah. 

Hanging Haman On The Day Of Purim

Abuja: Hezekiah, Jetto, Jeff, and Baruck
The feast of Purim comes before the Pesach, celebrated yearly on the 14th of Adar. Known as one of the jolliest festivals- the story dates back to the days of Queen Esther during the reign of king Ahasuerus in the early Persian Empire. Esther is remembered on this special day for her deeds which saved the entire Jews living at that time from extermination. 

Which is why the person of Haman is publicly humiliated on the day of Purim- using a decorated statue hanging from the gallows. Esther who did found favor in the sight of the king saved her fellow Jews, while the wicked Haman was hanged instead. According to, the jolly festival of Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (Book of Esther). 

Purim Celebration In Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja
Here in Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja, the feast was celebrated in a colorful way. It was that time of the year when our faces were covered in masks and we make the loudest noise in the synagogue. The day after the eve of Purim was certainly the time to have fun flogging and abusing the funny statue of Haman as it hangs on the gallows. This show is purely one of the best moment every child fancies in this festival. 

The Purim festival is also that time of the year we send gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person. Giving to the poor is also another common feature of this great feast. And apart from the symbolic meal eaten, wine and other intoxicating beverages are included to add to the merriment of the celebration. 

The Feast of Shavuout
Celebrating the Feast of Shavuot 
Shavuot is otherwise known as the feast of weeks, which was celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover. The significance of the two day festival marks the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai to the children of the Israelite. The eve of Shavuot is signified by the staying up all night studying the Torah and the reading of the Book of Ruth. 

Historically, the celebration of the feast of Shavuot coincides with the giving of the five Books of the Torah by G-d to Moshe and to the Israelite at Mount Sinai, 49 days after the Exodus from Egypt. The feast is today celebrated with the eating of symbolic meal which includes dairy products. 

Hezekiah Ben Moshe
Like the rest of the Jews across the globe, members of Tikvat Israel Synagogue Abuja observed the Shavuot which also signifies the period of harvesting wheat in the land of Israel. It was that time of the year to give the synagogue the much required beautification to celebrate Shavuot from sunset, May 19 to nightfall, May 21st.

Standing with the rest of the Nigerian Jews, we are committed to remain steadfast on this path and continue to propagate the Jewish Traditions as instructed in the Torah. Hashem made it clear that if we continue to abide and keep these laws and ordinances- that our path will continue to remain brighter with plenty of success and other spiritual benefits for keeping the Mitzvot. 

We’ll indeed adhere to His instructions and push towards the growth of Judaism in Eastern Nigerian and beyond. Looking forward to the coming feasts of:

  •  Rosh Shashana
  • Sukkot, and 
  • Yon Kippur
Jewish lady dealing with Haman at the Gallows

May Hashem keep us all Safe!




By: Abraham Ben Abraham Presented By: Deborah Bat Habakkuk The Rabbi of Temple Emmanuel – Rabbi Wayne Franklin The Ima of Temple Emma...