Students and locals will have a chance to learn about Nigerian Jewish culture Wednesday through food and music.
The Nigerian Jewish Music, Dinner and More event will be hosted by Hillel at Ohio University, the Multicultural Center and Black Student Cultural Programming Board. The event will take place at 7 p.m. at Hillel. It is free and open to the public.
The event will feature a documentary entitled RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria, which is about the Igbo people, a group in Nigeria that stemmed from Judaism.
Lior Shragg, a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, will speak about Nigerian Judaism at the event. Shragg did fieldwork in Abuja, Nigeria, about the way the Igbo people turned to music in times of turmoil.
“We’re really grateful to have Lior here doing his Ph. D. in Athens because it’s so nice to have another voice to talk about diversity in the Jewish community,” Lauren Goldberg, the assistant director of Hillel, said. “I hope that this becomes a program that can happen every year.”
Goldberg said there will also be food that represents the Nigerian Jewish community and the American Jewish community. One dish, jollof rice, is a popular dish in Africa and will be served.
“I think that there is tremendous diversity in the Jewish community and sometimes in the U.S., we only see an image of a Jewish person as an Ashkenazi Jewish person,” Goldberg said. “In reality, Jewish people live all over the world. There are all different ethnicities of Jewish people.”
Goldberg said she hopes that by pairing with different organizations on campus to host the event, a wide variety of people will come to learn about the international Jewish community and that myths about Judaism will be dispelled.
Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, the strategic director for diversity and inclusion and multicultural programs and initiatives, said a few years ago she co-sponsored an event with Hillel hosting two different people who were Ethiopian and Jewish. One woman said during the event she didn’t even know white Jewish people existed because she had only grown up knowing black Jewish people in Ethiopia.
“That’s why I like these programs — they help to educate the Jewish and the non-Jewish about the faith itself, how wide-reaching it is and that it spans various ethnic backgrounds,” Chunnu-Brayda said.
The event will hopefully teach those within the Jewish community and those who are not about the cultural diversity of Judaism and how music plays a role in that.
“Music, for most people, gives a strong sense of identity and a strong sense of purpose because it captures the … cultural essence of the people, the socio-political essence of the people (or) the struggles of a people,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “That’s how I see this music and I am hoping to learn a lot more about how then it manifests itself within these communities in Nigeria.”
Sean Wolfe contributed to this report.