Sunday, January 07, 2007

kippot and yarmulkes in africa

With a kippah on his head He boasts the 1 Jewish community with kippot in Ghana. The community led by the Alex Armah, . Alex is the respected spiritual leader, elected into the position by the community this past July. he has tried to get to Israel, but Ghana has no Israeli embassy and the other embassy has denied him a visa four times. It is his dream to go to Israel and become a rabbi, this way he can learn more about Judaism kippot and Yarmulkes and teach the village.”
For now, though, he teaches the village what he knows. A community of about eighty people coming from a few families, the Jews of Sefwi Wiawso, gather in the synagogue, Tefreth Israel, for all important religious occasions. The synagogue is comfortable, and with a little extra room, I was given the opportunity to join the community for the High Holy Days. How could I say “no” to a once-in-a-lifetime chance: to celebrate Holy Days in Africa.
he makes the trip twice: once for Rosh Hashanah, once for Yom Kippur. The High Holy Days are eerily similar to the High Holy Days at home. All of the important prayers are said, everyone over 13 fasts, and the typical Torah portions are read.
Nobody speaks Hebrew, and very few can read the language. None can read the vowel-less Torah. So they make do with what they have. Alex translates an English Pentateuch into Sefwi, the local language for the congregation. “English is not our first language,” Alex explained “so we do the reading in Sefwi so everyone will understand it.” While I felt somewhat excluded because I don’t speak Sefwi, I could only appreciate exactly what this group of Jewish people was doing.

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