Friday, February 17, 2012

Temple Emanu-El to host visitor from Cameroon, who will discuss rise of Judaism |

Religion Cameroon
EnlargeA 2011 Purim celebration in Cameroon, Africa.Judaism in Africa 2-17-2012 gallery (2 photos)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Judaism in Africa will be explored when a man from a Jewish community in Cameroon on that continent speaks at Temple Emanu-El in Port Richmond on Feb. 26.

Small Jewish communities are popping all over the world, said Rabbi Gerald Sussman of Temple Emanu-El, adding that this growing phenomenon over the last couple of years probably is fueled by the Internet.

Serge Etele, from the town of Saa, will talk about his community’s spiritual journey over the last dozen or so years and living an observant Jewish lifestyle in Africa.

Etele, a spiritual leader, farmer, computer specialist and educator, is doing a North American speaking tour that will include speaking on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. at the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association in Manhattan.

“He is an intelligent and articulate young man who is one of the leaders of the Beit Yeshurun community in Cameroon,” Rabbi Sussman said. “They are a small community who after a long period of questioning and spiritual discovery decided that Judaism is the right path for them.”

The Saa believers have been practicing their faith based on information they found on the web, and Etele also put together a website to connect Jewish communities in Africa. In the summer of 2010, Rabbi Sussman and his wife, Bonita (Bonnie), spent two weeks with the community in Cameroon. The rabbi said there are similar small groups in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and other African countries.

“Many claim Jewish roots,” Rabbi Sussman said. “This is not surprising because there have been longstanding Jewish communities in North Africa and it is likely that people migrated south of the Sahara. Aside from this, there are several groups in Ethiopia besides the Falashas who have largely immigrated to Israel.”

The temple was put in touch with the group in Cameroon by an organization called Kulanu, which means “all of us” in Hebrew. assists emerging or returning Jewish communities around the world who are discovering Judaism or who claim to be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel or were forced converts, perhaps dating to the Inquisition, or people who submerged their Jewish identities in countries under Communist rule, Rabbi Sussman said. The program at the temple will be on Feb. 26 at 10 a.m. The cost is $7, including breakfast.

A “Shabbat Across America” dinner, featuring a Kosher Chinese buffet, will be held on March 2 at Temple Emnau-El. The Sisterhood is hosting the 6 p.m. dinner, which costs $20 for adults and $15 for children, with 5 and younger free. Reservations are required by Wednesday; mail checks to Susan Kane, 1011 Sheldon Ave., Staten Island, 10309. Feb. 22 is the deadline for reserving for the trip to Israel on April 21–29. Call the temple office at 718-442-5966 . Temple Emanu-El is at 984 Post Ave.


The New Springville Jewish Center will show the documentary film “A New Beginning” tomorrow at 8 p.m.

The film is about Jewish history from the years 1948 to 1957 and is a project of the Destiny foundation. Refreshments will be served and the suggested donation is $5. The New Springville Jewish Center is at 120 Saxon Ave. For information, call 718-983-8063 .


Rabbi Michoel Chazan, director of Chaplaincy Services at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, will speak on March 2 at a “Shabbat Across America” dinner at Congregation Toras Emes in Oakwood.

There will be a candle lighting at 5:31 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. service and three-course dinner. The cost is $18 per adult and $10 for children under age 12. RSVP by Feb. 29 by calling 718-667-5228 or visiting the website Toras Emes is at 3151 Hylan Blvd.


Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island in Randall Manor will hold a Tot Shabbat tonight.

The child-friendly service with music and song, intended for children 5 and younger and their families, begins at 6 p.m. followed by the regular Shabbat service at 8 p.m. Torah study tomorrow will be at 10 a.m. followed by Shabbat services at 11 a.m.

“Shabbat Across America” on March 2 will feature a traditional dinner, prayer, study, song and unity. The cost is $15 per person. RSVP by Feb. 24 with David Meltzer at or call 917-755-7200 .

“A Taste of Judiasm” is a free, three-session course that will focus on Jewish spirituality and ethics and is especially designed for intermarried couples but open to all. A grant by the Union of Reformed Judaism subsidizes the cost. The classes, taught by Rabbi Michael Howald, will be held on March 11, 18, and 25 from 1:30-3:30.

For information, contact the temple office by e-mail at or call 718-727-2231 . Temple Israel is at 315 Forest Ave.


A free Hebrew School Friday Night Dinner will be held this evening at Congregation B’ nai Jeshurun in West Brighton.

The 6:15 p.m. dinner will be followed by services at 8 p.m. Free Torah and Haftorah reading classes will be led by Cantor Mordechai Edry at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning Feb. 23.

A “Shabbat Across America” Friday Night service and free dinner will begin at 6:15 p.m. on March 2. B’ nai Jeshurun is at 275 Martling Ave.

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