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Rabbi Nathan Obiekwe at Bethel Messianic on Yom Kippur

#TheGodProject: Nigerian Jews in Joburg

There is a congregation of Nigerian Jews in Joburg. Who knew? Rabbi Nathan Obiekwe of the Bethel Messianic Assembly in Yeoville. I first visited the Bethel Messianic Assembly in October, to take photos for my friend Marie-Lais’ “Other Side of the City” column in the Citizen. Marie-Lais and I showed up unannounced, but fortunately the door was open. “What religion are you?” asked the man at the door. “I’m Jewish,” I said proudly, figuring my religious heritage would give us a foot in the door. The man led Marie-Lais and me inside and introduced us to the rabbi, Nathan Obiekwe. Rabbi Nathan greeted us warmly and we sat down for a chat. On our way through the outdoor passage that led to Rabbi Nathan’s lounge, I noticed a large room filled with people, all lying on the floor. Rabbi Nathan in the lounge of his home. The house doubles as the Bethel Messianic synagogue. Note that the rabbi is holding a bible in his hand — this congregation reads frequently from both the old and new testaments. “Why are there so many people here on a Wednesday morning?” I asked the rabbi after a few minutes of small talk. Rabbi Nathan looked at me curiously. “Today […]

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My Favorite Joburg People: James Ike

I recently announced a storytelling project I’m working on called My Favorite Joburg People. I chose four people in Joburg, each of whom has an amazing story to tell, and interviewed them and shot their portraits. I’ll be presenting the stories and portraits at an upcoming event called Translating Joburg – Storytellers, and also publishing them on my blog. This is the second of the four stories. These stories are longer than my normal blog posts. James Ike James on the street near his home in Yeoville, May 2016. I’ve played a lot of sports and I’ve had a lot of coaches. I know what a great coach is made of. Great coaches motivate us without crushing our spirits. Great coaches push us to go farther than we can go alone. Great coaches have an ego; they want us to achieve so that they can achieve themselves. Great coaches want to be the best and they want the best for their athletes. Great coaches make us feel like no matter how good we are, that we can always be better. And we do get better, because we want to make our coaches proud. James Ike is a great coach. In 2012 I started training at […]

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