A French-born filmmaker, Laurence Gavron, has discovered Jews among African tribes, although they do not practice Judaism. In the film, Black Jews, Juifs noir en Afrique, Gavron, explained that each of these tribes shared a Jewish story and claimed that they have been the descendants of lost tribes, as indicated in the Bible (JTA). Some of these tribes believed that their ancestors were probably the Jews who were traveling from Judea towards Yemen, but stopped in Africa to look for gold. Another woman, Edith Bruder, has been carrying out research on black Jewish groups in Africa for several years and asserted that indeed some tribes from Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Cameroon, and Nigeria are practicing Judaism (JTA).
In their documentation, Gavron and Bruder noticed that in some remote areas, some Jews were carrying out circumcision, as well as Jewish-African marriages. They also found women preparing “kosher” meals, just as explained in Torah, the Jewish holy book. Black Jews interested Gavron because she was a Jew, living in Africa. She was interested to know who held the right to declare him/herself a Jew and to prove whether black Jews were really part of the larger Jewish people in Europe and the Middle East. According to her, Judaism should be portrayed through peoplehood and culture.
Due to their small population and lack of clear origin, most African Jews do not practice Judaism fully. Although Gavron found it hard to practice Judaism in Senegal, she claimed that Jewish is part of her. Having a Jewish identity, in addition to upholding Jewish cultural elements differentiated Jews from other people. A true Jew always maintains a connection with his/her people, in addition to possession of things, such as mezuzah and tzitzit, which have religious connotations.
JTA. “Lost Jews of Africa,” The Jewish Daily Forward, Art & Culture, August 14, 2012. Web. 14 April 2014 http://forward.com/articles/161092/lost-jews-of-africa/?p=all