So around 2009/2010 I lost the desire to celebrate Christmas though I loved the gospel accounts of the Holy Family running into Egypt to escape the genocide of King Herod against Hebrew babies (how could a white Messiah hide out in an African nation?) and though I loved decorating and buying as well as receiving gifts (my love language is gifts) I didn’t want to celebrate this day anymore. Something seemed off as I didn’t feel closer to The Most High though I went to services and kept an Advent journal Christmas always seemed to make many feel unworthy and rushed. Additionally, I didn’t see this celebration in the scriptures but for a few years I went along with the flow, but around 2012 after praying and fasting around Easter/Passover I received confirmation to start observing the Sabbath and the Feast of the Scriptures. I also decided that I would examine the practices I learned as a Christian: were these practices what Yahshua calls the “traditions of man that nullify the word of The Most High” (Mark 7:8)? Additionally as a Black woman I struggle with being pressured into other people’s agendas verses following my spirit’s calling and so in light of this last year I incorporated Hanukkah into my spiritual life loving the story of the Maccabees who resisted Roman domination as I struggle to resist the domination of white supremacy that encroaches on my temple (my body) and tries to change my hair, my features, my spirituality, my joys and my community. See the story of the Maccabees rebelling against Rome is the story of oppressed people practicing agency against their oppressors and the miracle of The Most High keeping their oil burning confirms for me that Abba does not want his children living under oppression. I also love the Hanukkah story because it’s a celebration of survival and as I reflect on my recent visit to the Slave Castles of Ghana I realized that the fact that I am still alive means my ancestors survived: Roman domination and escape into Africa, the Slave Castles, the Middle Passage, Old Jim Crow, the New Jim and continue to survive. Now in the memory of my ancestors and in praise to The Most High I don’t want to just survive but I want to thrive knowing that no one can curse what Yah has blessed and no one can destroy my people. This is why I celebrate Hanukkah not as an alternative to Christmas but as a praise to The Most High that my people are still here, that after homelessness and foster care I am still here and that my generations will be blessed! This post isn’t to judge anyone who observes Christmas it is just my reflection and celebration. The leader of my Congregation Jonathan Mickens said “everyone can be a Maccabee” and so how are we resisting the defilement of our temples and the destruction of our culture? To learn more about Hanukkah read the Book of Maccabees which was originally included in the King James Bible, to learn about the Feast of Dedication (which is the scriptural name for Hanukkah as the Maccabees rededicated the temple after the A Romans defiled it read: Psalm 30 and John 10:22. Happy Hanukkah and A Joyous Feast of Dedication. Now I am off to celebrate with the youth of my temple hopefully this old lady can keep up😁😂!
It’s been a little over a week since I returned from a life changing trip to Ghana and Benin. In my spirit I felt like I needed to take a trip to Israel first, Ghana and then Nigeria (where my ancestors hailed from but Ghana was the last place they were before being removed from the African continent during the trans-atlanti slave trade). The Most High is faithful to give us the desires of our heart because over the past two years I have been able to go on life changing tours to Israel, Ghana and Togo.
Each tour was intentionally designed for and led by Black people to ensure we connected with our culture in a way that was accurate and dignified. For more information on my trip to Israel read Marching to Zion: #BlackLivesMatterEverywhere which was published on this blog.
Going to Ghana meant so much to me as it is a place of much history for Africans throughout the diaspora as the last place many were held before being shipped to the New World in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade but Ghana was also a place that many Hebrew refugees from Israel settled throughout history when fleeing Israel after the first and second temples were destroyed. Now these groups didn’t leave Israel and walk to Ghana in a few days but over the course of hundreds of years they migrated usually starting in Egypt and ending in Ghana with some Hebrews ending their migration in Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and other places in Africa. Some groups in Ghana that migrated from Israel are: the Ewe, Ashanti, Sefwi (who currently have a vibrant Torah practicing community and Synangue) and the Ga Dagme. While in Ghana my local Tour Guides and drivers Kodjo, Derrick and David were Ewe and they were men of deep faith and showed us a good time. Our American Tour Guide was Peter a Guyanese-American who ensured that while in Ghana we saw as much of the country as possible while also ensuring that we patronized the businesses of local Ghanians.
One purpose of this trip was to gather research about the ethnic groups in Ghana who migrated from Israel for my forthcoming book Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny. The Sefwi and Ashanti were clear that their people migrated from Israel and my Ewe friends are also clear about this fact and all of these ethnic groups have Torah practices as a basis of their cultures. During my time in Ghana through the wonderful organization Kulanu which is Hebrew for All of Us I was able to visit the Sefwi Jewish Village and Synagogue as apart of the first African-American delegation to visit this group. Through the generous donations to my fundraising campaign I was able to give a monetary donation to the community for their guest house and I was able to deliver 180 Hanukkah candles as they prepare to celebrate. This visit was life changing and witness of our faith to the individuals in my Tour group.
Another impactful part of my tour was going to the Cape Coast and Elmina Slave Castles where my ancestors and millions of other enslaved Africans were held while waiting to be shipped to the New World for slavery. Sadly there was a church that held services right over the slave dungeons where men and women were held in dark cramped caves with no sunlight or adequate food. This deeply enraged me but also shown how false religion has been used to enslave not only the minds but the bodies of my people. I also realized that trumendous strength of my ancestors and I know I can overcome whatever stands before me because of them. I prayed at the Door of No Return which is the door the enslaved Africans walked through to get on slave ships never to see Africa again. As I prayed for my people I felt a strength and resolve that was truly empowering.
I want to thank each and every person who donated to my fundraiser for this trip and the Sefwi Jewish community. Be Blessed and see videos and picture from my trip below!