Back to IndieWire

Review: ‘RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria’ Inspires w/ Passion, Knowledge & Conviction

Review: 'RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria' Inspires w/ Passion, Knowledge & Conviction

 It might seem like a far fetched idea to people in Africa and all over the world. Some prominent members of the Jewish community say the link between the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and today’s Igbos is a myth. What would propel thousands of Igbo people in Nigeria (and growing) to believe they are really Jews, who descended from “Eri”, the 5th son of GAD; the latter who was the 7th son of Jacob, whose sons fathered the 12 Tribes of Israel?

Jeff Lieberman‘s new documentary, RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria, follows the quest for knowledge of Igbo roots in Judaism through Schmuel (Schmuel Tkvah ben Yaacov), a charismatic and eloquent young leader in the Nigerian Jewish community. Schmuel grew up Catholic, although his parents weren’t particularly fervent about religion in general. During his childhood, the naturally inquisitive Schmuel was taught that Jews were doomed because they didn’t believe in Jesus. He later realized that his faith in Jesus was more about feeling safe from eternal damnation than anything else. His interest in Judaism peaked after graduation and upon meeting “Benjamin”, a Nigerian Jew who challenged his belief of Jesus as savior with Judaic teachings.

However, there is an oral tradition passed down through generations of some of Nigeria’s
Igbo people, whose identity was deeply impacted by British colonization
and Christianity. There seems to be commonalities between the Jews and Igbos: eating fish with scales, not eating pork, slaughtering animals the kosher way, circumcision on the 8th day, resting days, marriage rites, among others. There are also similar words with the same meaning in Hebrew and Igbo; like for example, the word “Igbo” is said to derive from the Hebrew word “Ivrim”, which may be a corruption of the Igbo word “Ibri”. 

One of the most resonant and moving aspects is the arrival of Rabbi Howard Gorin, who has come from Washington D.C.  to Nigeria to visit the synagogue led by Elder Habbakkuk, who by the way, has grown close to young Schmuel and has allowed him to live in the premises. The Igbos hope that Rabbi Gorin “strengthens” their faith in Judaism. It’s almost ironic that the faith of Rabbi Gorin, who was impressed by how advanced in their teachings the Igbos were, seemed to have been strengthened by the Igbo Jews’ commitment, knowledge and command of the Hebrew language instead.

After the film, director Lieberman said he wanted to tell the story from these Igbo villagers’ point of view and in their voice. He wanted to document a representation of many Nigerians that people around the world are not aware of. Aside from their faith, these are remarkable and intelligent individuals, whose passion and dedication for knowledge are admirable. Western ideals of wealth are irrelevant to these villagers, who are spiritually wealthy.

The documentary is much about these Igbos reconnecting with their alleged Jewish identity as much as it is about Igbo culture as a whole. And, it’s also just as much about African descendants all over the world. RE-EMERGING, straightforward in its narration, gives a relatively thorough historical account of the Igbos during colonization, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and presence of Igbo heritage in America, independence from British rule, Biafran War and more. There are many unanswered questions about the missing link between Igbos and The Lost Tribes of Israel, whose alleged Igbo descendants may have migrated to Nigeria. Did the descendants of GAD travel via Ethiopia, then Cameroon? Through Morocco, then Mali, and then straight to Nigeria?

There are several intriguing theories between the two groups; none of which
can be proven 100 percent. And regardless of what one’s convictions may be, at least for this writer, none of it mattered.
RE-EMERGING is told with conviction and passion. There is a palpable
thirst for knowledge of all things Judaic; the meticulous perfectionism
of these Igbo people in these remote villages to master its practices,
along with the need to learn the Hebrew language are quite fascinating
to watch.

Controversy will sure follow the viewing of RE-EMERGING; religion has never been an easy topic to broach. I am curious of how the documentary will be received upon reaching more sizable audiences.

Re-Emerging is in theaters at New York’s Quad Cinema (34 W 13th Street) until the end of this week, with two shows daily at 1pm and 7pm. For tickets and more information go to the film’s web page at


This Article is related to: Reviews and tagged


Ancient Indigenous Warrior

Black Hebrew Israelites from America need to stop making up lies about the Igbos being Hebrews. If you do not know their actual heritage just shut up already. The Igbos always say they were never Jews. These black Americans swear they know everybody’s heritage, but they need to learn theirs instead.


Thank you Harryson Davidson for enlightening me about the connection that Judaism has with Nigeria. I am going to study this more.

Harryson Davidson

Hello Mr Chika . how are you doing ? i am Harryson , i read your comment .i just want to tell you . stay with your identitty you are a jew or hebbrew , that is what you are. we are the jews and we are the hebbrew revelation .2 :9 / it for yourself.those who leave in land of israel today are not the reall jews . they are jewsish.they stolle the land . connect with me .let see what God called us .in the name joshua amachiakah .in the bible i will show you what we have lost as resuit of our forefathers sins agaist God of Abraham.that why we lost our identity our heritage. let me tell you we all know joshua as white man, but his not a white man. joshua our savour is black man . in revelation.i will show you .even in daniel.white men have decieve the hole world .i can send you the picture of joshua as a black a man.i don just speak , i speak according to the bible .the word of God .bless up .God is like us you and ,not white.reach if can or if you will.christians are liars.they do not the bible .but tith offerings stiling in the name of God.a true christians keep Gods commandment.the only thing they is pay your tithy offering take your money ,read malachi.3:1-18. nehmiah,10.35-39.seed from the ground is your tithy,if you keep God commandment. in joshua.1:5-10 ,dueteronomy28:1.13.if you keep his commandmnet you will have good it you see there know need for you giving your money to this Gang-star thief pastor your money.since your pay your tithy what do they teach you? about your identity,or about who are the jews.ecclesiaste 10.7-9.we blacks are kings and Queens created by God, we leave like fools.the origin of a white Men. Genesis 25:24 -25.from adam and eve to isaac, there were know white men in the bible.jacob is black ,Esua is airy and redish.white men are redish, red ,God bless you, stay in God.


We are not Jews or Hebrew. We did not originate in Israel. This Igbo-Jew theory is easily disproven and has actually been disproven by such scholars as Adiele Afigbo. In fact, people like me who are young Igbo have dedicated ourselves to challenging this myth. The main proponents are attempting to re-write history to fit this particular agenda. They know their "evidence" is flimsy at best. I challenge them to debate those who are knowledgeable on the subject.


The Ten Tribes and Juda-ism? Don't think so. All I can say is it's about time someone had the courage to share the Truth about who the 12 Tribes of Israel really are even in a back door kind of way. The Transatlantic slave Trade ships were full of Hebrew-Israelites. We already know this. It is taking patience to wait for the rest of the world and most Black people to figure it out and that therefore, the whites who claim to be 'us' in Israel and around the world are not by any stretch of the imagination Israelites. I would love to see this work when it's available.

Did you know T.D. Jakes is Igbo? and during slavery, Virginia was called Igbo land because so many slaves were Igbo from the region of Nigeria. It is an amazing thing to see all this finally in the mainstream. Of course the Bible has been telling us this for centuries. HalleluYah!


can't have an entry about the topic of jews and Africans and not mention that earlier this year state of Israel pretty much confirmed and put an end to state sponsored program that can only be called eugenics. Coercing Ethiopian jewish women who emigrated to take and remain on birth control.

story was out there about it happening for years…the state confirmed it earlier this year and the AP and New York Times grudgingly covered the story 5 weeks after the admission.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *