Shalom everyone! The following is the official trailer for the 2016 film “Black Jews – The Roots of the Olive Tree,” produced by Laurence Gavron. This film explores various African tribes with Jewish roots, and their return to Torah Judaism. This film, in French with English and Hebrew subtitles, was released in March 2016:
“Over the course of the 20th century, a large number of groups in various Sub-Saharan countries (South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Mali, Ivory Coast, etc.) spontaneously converted to Judaism and claimed Jewish identity. These communities respect the worship rituals and dietary restrictions of Judaism, which they often learn from the Internet, as well as Jewish culture (cuisine, music, language, etc.).
The leaders of several of these communities have traveled to Israel to train and study in Yeshivas to become Rabbis. From the end of the 19th century, we already knew of the existence of many black Jews in the United States. Today, they apparently number more than 100,000 in North America.
The film gives an account of this black Judaism, through an African community – that of Cameroon, with Serge Etélé as its leader. Rabbi Cappers Funnye, Michelle Obama’s cousin and leader of the black Jewish community in the United States, is also interviewed.
The aim was to find out more about these various communities, the reasons why they chose Judaism, their claim that they were Jewish, in their own way, in ancient, pre-colonial times and the way they approach Jewish worship and culture. Is it possible to be Jewish by choice, without having inherited the adherence, solely by appropriating it, through study, alone or within a community?” ~ Washington Jewish Film Festival, March 2016
“Black Jews – The Roots of the Olive Tree” – Trailer – Laurence Gavron
Video from Toronto Jewish Film Festival/YouTube channel