“Why am I here? It has to do with my love for Jewish culture and language. I had my initial theological training at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, Nigeria. I studied at the University of Birmingham in England and graduated with a M.Ed. degree. With all my years of training and teaching within theological education, I knew very little about Jewish culture. When I came to the United States, I decided it was important for me to learn more about the Jewish culture and Hebrew language; I feel that I can do that best by learning through Jewish worship experience. I heard about Hebrew College’s Prayer Leader Summer Institute from my Boston Theological Institute (BTI) friends and I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to learn something new, so that when I return to Nigeria I can introduce new ideas about the Hebrew stories to our theological schools.
In my Prayer Institute liturgy class at Hebrew College, I learned that many Jewish words carry more than one meaning. For example, I learned that the word ‘Shalom’ means more than ‘peace.’ It means perfection, completeness, and/or harmony. I feel so happy about that. I am excited to make connections between Hebrew language and my mother tongue, Yoruba. By the Grace of God, I intend to study Psalm 23 in transliteration and then be able to actually read it in Hebrew tongue. When I return to Nigeria, I hope to recite Psalm 23 in Yoruba, English language, and in Hebrew. If it pleases God, I want to become a Nigerian expert in Jewish studies.”
(Rev. Christopher Bamikole, Baptist minister from Nigeria, has done research at BTI about theological school consortiums. He plans to return to Nigeria in December 2016.)
Learn more about the The School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College‘s Prayer Leader Summer Insitute.