English | français

Skip to content Skip to menu Skip to search

Logo du site

Home > Secteur-English > General > Professor William F.S. Miles and the Jews of Nigeria

Professor William F.S. Miles and the Jews of Nigeria

Northeastern University Professor William F.S. Miles will tell the remarkable story of the newly discovered Jews of Nigeria. While Jews have long had a presence in Ethiopia and Mahgreb, Africa’s newest Jewish community of note is in Nigeria, where upwards of twenty thousand Igbos are commonly claimed to have adopted Judaism. Bolstered by customs recalling an Israelite ancestry, but embracing rabbinic Judaism, they are also the world’s first “Internet Jews.” William Miles has spent over three decades conducting research in West Africa. In Jews of Nigeria : An Afro-Judaic Odyssey, he shares his life stories from this spiritually passionate community, as well as his own Judaic reflections as he celebrates Hanukkah and a bar mitzvah with “Jubos” in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. An encounter with Laureate Chinua Achebe reveals unexpected family connections to one of the most intriguing Jewish and African communities to emerge in modern times. 

In a recent interview on the NPR show “Here and Now,” Professor Miles stated :
"Through a history of colonialism and proselytization 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 Jubos’ enthusiasm in observing Rabbinic Judaism stems from their belief that God has chosen and guided them on this path.”

William F. S. Miles is a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston where he teaches on Comparative Politics, Religion and Politics, and Political Culture. He earned his PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. From 1998 to 2002, Professor Miles was the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. He has also been a visiting research scholar at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben Gurion University of the Negev. His popular-themed articles have appeared in Hadassah, Midstream, The Forward, Moment Magazine, and New Vilna Review. Jews of Nigeria is his tenth book. A five-time Fulbright scholar, Miles is the author of many Africanist works, including Hausaland Divided, Elections in Nigeria and was the editor of and a major contributor to the book Political Islam in West Africa. Winner of the National Bible Contest and North American representative to the International Bible Contest, Miles has most recently published Zion in the Desert an ethno-autobiography of the kibbutz movement of Reform Judaism in Israel. This book was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

SPIP 3.0.16 [21266] | Template BeeSpip v.3.1.0