The Story

WE’RE NOT SURE HOW IT GOT HERE, BUT IT’S HERE: JUDAISM.
IN A REMOTE RURAL VILLAGE IN GHANA, CALLED SEFWI WIAWSO.

What does religion mean to you? When Gabrielle Zilkha volunteered to work in Africa, religion wasn’t at the forefront of her mind. But when the Jewish New Year came along she realized she was a lone Canadian Jew awash in a sea of Christians. Surprisingly, she found, in remote Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana, a group of people, dedicated and devout, who practiced special rites including circumcision and keeping Kosher dietary laws and had done so for centuries. Only recently had they discovered they were part of a worldwide religion with millions of followers – Judaism.

Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana, is an exploration of the background and day to day lives of the Jews of Sewfi Wiawso. At the same time, it shows the importance of connections, as we see the Sefwis try to reach out to other Jews worldwide and withness their ongoing struggle for acceptance and growth. Their leader, Alex Armah, tells us his dream is to see his congregation achieve official status, and to know and understand their history. But what is their history? Could they be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel?

Armah struggles to unite and encourage his tiny congregation. Zilkha, meanwhile endeavours to throw light on the true meaning of Judaism, consulting experts in Miami, New York, Montreal and Toronto; delving into history along the way. What actually comprises a Jew? Do you have to be part of an accepted Jewish community, with a full fledged synagogue and a formally educated rabbi, or does believing and practicing, even in isolation from a tiny humble building qualify you? Is a elaborate Seder in Montreal any more authentic than a simple repast prepared with piety in devotion?

Made over the course of five years, Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana is a work of love. The affection between the filmmaker and the Sefwi shines as an unspoken part of the story; this is a fascinating study of Judaism and belonging.

A MULTI-MEDIA APPROACH TO STORYTELLING

Using the tools of 21st century storytelling, we seek to go beyond the creation of a stand-alone documentary film and employ a storytelling strategy that uses a variety of digital, social media and communications technologies to enable deeper and ongoing communication between the Sefwi community and those people around the world who can relate to their journey of self-discovery and quest for belonging.

Aside from enhancing the overall experience around the film, the purpose of our transmedia strategy is to ensure the story of the Sefwi journey will live past the typical "lifecycle" of a theatrical or televised release.

Explore

Visit Sefwi Wiawso and learn about the community members who live there in our Interactive Village.