What does religion mean to you? When Gabrielle Zilkha volunteered to work in Africa, religion wasn’t at the forefront of her mind. But when the Jewish New Year came along she realized she was a lone Canadian Jew awash in a sea of Christians. Surprisingly, she found, in remote Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana, a group of people, dedicated and devout, who practiced special rites including circumcision and keeping Kosher dietary laws and had done so for centuries. Only recently had they discovered they were part of a worldwide religion with millions of followers – Judaism.
“Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana,” is an exploration of the background and day to day lives of the Jews of Sewfi Wiawso. At the same time, it shows the importance of connections, as we see the Sefwis try to reach out to other Jews worldwide and witness their ongoing struggle for acceptance and growth. Their leader, Alex Armah, tells us his dream is to see his congregation achieve official status, and to know and understand their history. But what is their history? Could they be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel?
Welcome to New Adiembra! DoingJewishTheFilm.com allows audiences an opportunity for deeper exploration into the characters and themes of the documentary Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana. Explore the interactive map with tours of key locations led by members of the Jewish community. Watch videos, take in the sights and sounds of the village, meet community members that you might not have seen in Doing Jewish, and share your own photos with the Sefwis. Enjoy!
Armah struggles to unite and encourage his tiny congregation. Zilkha, meanwhile endeavours to throw light on the true meaning of Judaism, consulting experts in Miami, New York, Montréal and Toronto; delving into history along the way. What actually comprises a Jew? Do you have to be part of an accepted Jewish community, with a full fledged synagogue and a formally educated rabbi, or does believing and practicing, even in isolation from a tiny humble building qualify you? Is a elaborate Seder in Montréal any more authentic than a simple repast prepared with piety in devotion?
Made over the course of five years, “Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana” is a work of love. The affection between the filmmaker and the Sefwi shines as an unspoken part of the story; this is a fascinating study of Judaism and belonging.
For more information on “Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana,” click here to visit the documentary’s official website.