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Rudy Rochman: ‘My time in a Nigerian prison’

“Wine with Adam” with Adam Scott Bellos and guest Rudy Rochman, Season 2, Ep. 4

In the recent episode of “Wine with Adam,” host Adam Bellos sat down with special guest and close friend  Rudy Rochman, an Israeli-American activist and filmmaker, to talk about his time in prison in Nigeria. In July 2021, Rudy was detained along with three others and spent several weeks in jail while filming the Igbo Jewish community in Nigeria. Automatic weapons, men in ski masks, fear of execution, unmarked vehicles, Shabbat, Chabad, kosher food; it is a harrowing story that you won’t want to miss.

Reflecting on the three-week imprisonment, he remarked: “I look at it as when I was in that situation, everything that I should have done, I did everything that was hard. Even when it’s the right decision. That’s the decision that I make, especially when it was hard to make. So I look at that, and I’m very proud of myself, for those moments and overcoming and surviving.” 

The conversation was accompanied by a tasting of Shilo Mosaic 2019, a red blend from the Shilo Winery in Israel.

The Lost Tribes of Israel

Filming the Jewish community of Nigeria is part of a larger project called “We Were Never Lost, a documentary film series highlighting the Jewish roots and heritage of various communities in Africa. Rochman hopes the film series can revitalize Jewish identity and story even for Jews who are not from these communities.

Bellos and Rochman discussed the current documentary series that he is producing, “We Were Never Lost,” which profiles African Jewish communities, some of which are believed to have descended from the lost tribes of Israel. After discovering in college that there were Jewish communities in Africa not only in Ethiopia but also in places like Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda, Rudy felt that the story and narrative of these communities were lacking from the Jewish consciousness. He set out to discover everything about these communities and reconnect them to the main Jewish communities through a documentary series. 

Personal Journey to Israel and Jewish Activism

The discussion began with Rudy Rochman sharing his personal journey of discovering his Jewish identity and how he became involved in activism. Rochman’s family moved around moving from France to Israel when Rudy was 3 only to move again to the United States. Israel was the one constant though. “Every single summer, we’d come back to Israel; we knew that at some point, we needed to come back to Israel. So that was the constant in my life, whereas everything else was changing.” This gave him the ability to tell his story in a variety of different situations and languages as well.

Controversies

Bellos asked Rudy to set the record straight on a number of controversial moments in his career. 

  • Is Rudy really qualified to find the lost tribes of Israel?
  • His comments on the “truth” of the Black Israelite narrative 
  • His solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

“Wine with Adam” with Adam Bellos airs on JNS TV YouTube Channel and on JNS social media platforms on a bi-weekly basis on Wednesdays at 8:30 P.M. IST/1:30 P.M. EST. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and click on the bell for notifications. You can also listen to the audio version on Spotify, Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Enjoy a good conversation and a glass of wine with JNS’ “Wine with Adam.” Featuring the young and quirky Adam Bellos, the show includes interviews with well-known personalities over a bottle of one of Israel’s finest wines. Learn about some of Israel and the Jewish world’s most interesting people with this fun show. Co-sponsored by the Israel Innovation Fund.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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