As we begin the Shabbat I wanted to share that a few weeks ago The Obadyah Alliance Bet Din recognized the Igbos of Nigeria were recognized as “Israelites who were forced to convert to Christianity. A Bet Din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. This is major not for white validation (which is not being sought) but because for centuries many Igbos have been telling their story, history and faith traditions and were not believed because they had Black skin. Even among many Black people the idea that Jews could be in West Africa is seen as “weird, a heresy, cultish, internalized oppression or just unbelievable.” This is a major step in Igbo history and more is to come and there are more tribes in Sub-Saharan Africa with Hebrew origins.
Read the statement from the Bet Din here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a98cbc3b40b9da93f7c5126/t/61f35b8ad59d991291cab3fa/1643338634761/Teshubah-on-Igbo-Israelites.pdf
For about 9-years I have researched, wrote about, preached and lectured about African Jews first starting with the Igbo of Nigeria. In 2015 while in Israel visiting African Hebrews I was invited to visit Nigeria by Elder Cletus Okoro an Igbo Hebrew leader and as the weeks went on more Synangogues in Igbo land invited me to visit. I returned home to put what I found in book Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny. I would go on to teach Black churches, Jewish Synagogues and many different faith communities about the Igbos and their heritage as Jews.
I did not have anything to do with this case I am just rejoicing and sharing the update.
Sadly, I am sure many of my colleagues in theology including many of the African-American ones were confused and even judgmental of my journey and focus because sadly even in the seminaries that teach Black theology we start Black church history in 1619 instead of in Africa. Even among the most educated among us we sometimes have a desire to be seen as “sensible and acceptable” scholars and so we stay away from much of African culture and history. I am so happy I followed the spirit as activated when my father looked at his chubby cheeked daughter and gave me the Igbo name “Chika” and started this journey of documenting (from a Black perspective) the story of the Igbos and other African Jews including Jews in West Africa. I knew my journey was unique and off the beaten path but I had to follow The Holy One’s Destiny for my life. By the way both sides of my family call me Chika and only use Onleilove in public or on social media. Chika is an Igbo name meaning “God is above all”. My father had no idea why he named me this but today he now knows as he watches my destiny unfold. In African thought your name is your destiny.
About 25% or 1 in 4 African-Americans have Igbo ancestry and in places like Haiti many also have Igbo ancestry. Anyone can research this and find receipts easily. One receipt is: Chambers, Douglas B. (March 1, 2005). Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia. University Press of Mississippi. p. 23
Thank you Elder Remy Ilona for standing in the gap during this historic moment and thank you for also reaching back to make sure your African-American brothers and sisters are not left behind.
Watch the video statement from Igbo Hebrew Author and Leader Elder Remy Ilona, a lawyer who is now studying for a doctorate from The University of California-Riverside concerning his work around Igbo Jewish history and connection: https://youtu.be/1F0OASDEqW0
You can get Elder Remy’s books on the Igbo and their Hebrew heritage as well as the connection between Igbos and African-Americans here: https://www.amazon.com/Remy-Ilona/e/B00J6M32TO%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
As Black scholars especially if your focus is religion, theology or Biblical Studies you must go further back than 1619. You must listen primarily to Black people especially the family on the continent when they share their story. As the young folks say “trust Black people.”
If you are a Black pastor why not share this information with your congregation during Black History Month? If you need assistance with this Elder Remy who is tagged in this post is very approachable and can speak at your congregation. I can also assist you after you review the links in the post and connect with Elder Remy.
Again this is not about White validation but about history being told correctly and prophecy being fulfilled.
If you are a non-Black Jewish person who wants to learn more about this see the links in this post, contact Elder Remy or connect with organizations like Kulanu, Inc. You can also contact me but I ask that you first review the links in the post, contact Elder Remy and plug into Kulanu. I consider Kulanu Jews who are true allies to African, Asian and other Jews of Color.
I am humbled that The Holy One would even invite me to be a little part of this amazing story of His love. To my young folks never allow the doubts of others stop you from going boldly on the journey you are being called to.
Thank you to ALL the Igbo Jews who welcomed me into their synagogues, congregations, homes and welcomed me as a long lost sister returning home. I will always tell your story with humility.
To All African Jews I see you. I love you and most of all Adonai sees you! To the tribes scattered abroad Adonai has not forgotten us.
Love From The Future,