How did this group of Nigerians become Jewish?

“Through a history of colonialism and proselytisation through Christian missionaries. Most Igbos became Christian. Some of them in the 1970s, 1980s, were proselytized – from the United States, actually – by what in the American setting would be often called Jews for Jesus, what in Nigeria they still call Messianic. Now, having practiced Messianic Judaism for many years, which is all of the customs and the practices of Judaism – Sabbath, prayer on Saturdays, wearing of the tallit, the prayer shawl – but they also believed in Jesus, which for normative Judaism, regular Judaism, just doesn’t fit. And after some years of questioning – because Nigerians are really religious people, they take religion seriously, they go to bed thinking about it – some of them started to say, ‘this doesn’t compute. If we’re supposed to believe in one God, then this theology of a son of God in addition to God doesn’t make sense.’ And then the Internet arose and they were exposed for the first time to world global Judaism.”

The world’s first “Internet Jews”

“They had exposure to Hebrew language, to how Jewish ritual is practiced throughout the world. The Internet arrived in Nigeria at the same time that many of these Igbos were breaking away from Messianic Judaism, as they thought of it, and were able to learn and had this great access to whatever is out on the Internet. And everything is out on the Internet! Including Rabbinic Judaism.”

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