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Rabbi Returns to Nigeria for 3-Week Mission.........posted Feb 13, 2006

Accompanied by four tons of Jewish prayer books and texts on Jewish history and culture, Rabbi Howard Gorin is making a return visit to Nigeria to meet with Jews living in various parts of the west African nation.

The rabbi leaves on Feb. 7 for his three-week education and training mission.

He isn't exactly traveling with the substantial cargo of books, computers and other household products and sporting goods amassed over the past couple of months by congregants at TI. A cargo container, suitable for transport on an ocean liner, was packed with all the donations just a couple of days before the rabbi's departure so the shipment isn't expected to arrive until sometime after the rabbi has returned to the United States. He will make arrangements with Jewish leaders in Nigeria for the distribution of the resources across the country.

Rabbi Gorin's itinerary includes these appointments:

  • visiting with a young man (approximately 35 years old) in Warri, located in Nigeria's Delta State, who is the director of informational technology for the confederation that the rabbi is working with. The rabbi will discuss with him how best to deploy the donated computers to further the study of Judaism.
  • visiting with an elderly man in one of the Igbo states who is in the process of completing his return to Judaism. While he currently is messianic, this is the Nigerian citizen whom the rabbi quotes on his personal website (rabbihowardgorin.org/books4nigeria.htm). "He is the leader of a large community; it will be a coup to bring him aboard," says Rabbi Gorin, who intends to present him with a Jewish Publication Society tanakh.
  • visiting with the imam and the pastor who visited TI in March 2004 when they were in Washington, D.C., to receive an award from Search for Common Ground. The rabbi intends to present them with two miniature Torahs bearing the phrase, "Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace." The imam has scheduled Rabbi Gorin for visits with other imams in the northern part of the country who have never met a Jew.
  • presenting a speech at Imo State University, which will receive a Judaica collection for its library. The rabbi will meet teachers and students at the university.
  • spending Shabbats in a community outside of Abuja, in Okigwe in Imo state and in Port Harcourt in Rivers state.

The rabbi says some of his itinerary remains a bit unsettled. "There is internal disagreement (in Nigeria) as to how I should allocate my time -- in 'state visits' or in visiting the various communities to encourage and teach. There will be a balance of both."

Unlike his earlier trips to Nigeria and Uganda, this is an independent trip without any formal connections to any organization or group. The rabbi will be accompanied through his travels by a young man from California who will document the trip on film.