Despite my disheartening day yesterday, today was a little more on the up side.
I went back to Yeoville with Luke, his group and Kudzai to get a few more shots of my Nigerian Jews.
Our first stop was at the hill so that Luke could get some cutaways and B-role for his video.
Afterwards we headed off to my Nigerian Rabbi. He and his community never fail to inspire me.
While the girls waited in the car, Luke and I headed in to see the Rabbi and take some pictures. One of the congregants told us that “Rabbi is eating lunch and we don’t disturb him during lunch.”
We waited for him in the Synagogue as one of the congregants came in and did the daily afternoon prayer. I watched him take his shoes off, get on his knees and say a number of different verses. It was beautiful.
The Rabbi came in and greeted us with a warm “Shalom Aleichem!” (Meaning Welcome, peace be upon you.)
I explained what I needed and off we went to do my photo shoot. We started chatting afterwards and he asked me if I’d like to chat with his majesty, Igwe Royal Highness) Eze Eri, the leader and Chief Rabbi/Spiritual Leader of the Igbo Jews. He is the direct descendant of Gad, son of the patriarch Jacob.
“Now?” I said.
“Yes I will call him now. He would love to speak to you! I will phone him in Nigeria now!”
I was mildly shocked and in awe that this was about to take place. The thought of speaking to someone who knows he is directly related to a biblical figure was overwhelming.
“Shalom Aleichem Igwe Eze Eri, Ze Rabbi Natan m’Drom Afrika,” said Rabbi Obiekwe. Natan is Rabbi Sylvester’s Hebrew name. (The above translates as “Peace be upon you your highness Eze Eri, this is Rabbi Natan from South Africa” – in Hebrew I might add) They proceeded to speak in Igbo (a Nigerian language spoken in Southern and Eastern Nigeria) and Rabbi Sylvester handed me the phone.
We spoke for about 10 minutes about my project and I told him how wonderful his community is in South Africa and I hope to come visit the community in Nigeria. He told me about a few holidays and celebrations the Igbo Jews would be having in Nigeria soon and explained his lineage and role as leader.
He gave me an incredible blessing at the end of the conversation which included “doing well with my project”, “being successful with everything”, that I should “flourish as a Jewess and follow the ways of G-d [Hashem]” and that I should “have a long, happy and peaceful life.”
I handed the phone back to Rabbi Obiekwe and Rabbi Obiekwe said that Igwe Eri and his community would be happy to sponsor a trip for me, a friend and Rabbi Obiekwe to meet and see the Jewish community of Nigeria. I should just “let him know if I want to come”.
It sounds like a pretty awesome plan!
We thanked the Rabbi, said our goodbyes and headed back to the car – I must admit, I was in a bit of a daze.
We then helped Roxi, Thabi and Palesa film at their barbers on Rocky and headed back to the car. On the way, I once again got hit on by another old “Sugar Daddy”. His comment was something I’m not going to share on this forum…
We got back to Wits, Luke and I giggling and having fun the entire trip back and the two of us wanted ice-cream.
So we went on an “adventure” to the Matrix to find some good old-fashioned ice-cream. Yum!
The perfect ending to a productive (and albeit amazing) day!