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In this book contemporary Judaism is presented in all its rich diversity, including both traditional and modern theologies as well as secular forms of Jewish identity. While the focus of the book is on developments that have taken place in the past two hundred years, they are set against a historical background, going back to the Bible. Beginning with a description of the Jewish people as it exists in today's world, it studies the unique concept of Jewish peoplehood and its survival over the centuries in the face of many challenges. An account of the key texts is followed by studies of the different interpretations of the religion, and the ways that life is lived out both in the home and in the community. Jewish theology is described both historically and in terms of contemporary issues. An important and distinctive section considers the goals of Jewish life and faith.
While Jews have long had a presence in Ethiopia and the Maghreb, Africa's newest Jewish community of note is in Nigeria, where upwards of twenty thousand Igbos are commonly claimed to have adopted Judaism. Bolstered by customs recalling an Israelite ancestry, but embracing rabbinic Judaism, they are also the world's first "Internet Jews."William Miles has spent over three decades conducting research in West Africa. In Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey, he shares life stories from this spiritually passionate community, as well as his own Judaic reflections as he celebrates Hanukka and a bar mitzvah with "Jubos" in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. A concluding encounter with laureate Chinua Achebe reveals unexpected family connections to one of the most intriguing Jewish and African communities to emerge in modern times.