Garment of Faith

Abigail, Aishatu, Amina, Asabe, Awa, Awagana, Blessing, Christiana, Christy, Comfort, Confort, Deborah, Docas, Eli, Esther, Falta, Fatima, Febi, Filo, Gloria, Glory, Godiya, Grace, Hadiza, Halima, Hamsatu, Hana, Hanata, Hanatu, Hasana, Hauwa, Helen, Ihyi, Jinkai, Juliana, Jummai, Kabu, Kauna, Kume, Kummai, Kwadugu, Kwanta, Ladi, Laraba, Liyatu, Lugwa, Lydia, Maifa, Maimuna, Mairama, Margret, Mary, Maryamu, Monica, Muli, Muwa, Mwa, Naomi, Nguba, Palmata, Patiant, Pindar, Racheal, Rahab, Rahila, Rakiya, Rebeca, Rejoice, Rhoda, Rifkatu, Ruth, Safiya, Salomi, Saratu, Saraya, Sicker, Serah, Solomi, Suzana, Tabitha, Talata, Yana, Yanke, Yayi, Zara.

The names of these kidnapped Nigerian young women have been in our hearts and minds. Abducted from their high school in Chibok, they have been held captive by Boko Haram for more than two years. We have dedicated our High Holiday prayers to their welfare and Passover Seder for their release.  This past Sunday a woman who had received our Passover Haggadah was grateful to be reminded of the Chibok girls, as she said, “I had put them out of my mind and seeing the list reminded me of them.”

This week Amina Ali Nkeki, now 19 and with an infant child, emerged from the forest and was reunited with her family.  When she was spotted and rescued she was with a suspected Boko Haram fighter who is now in Nigerian military custody. He claims to be Ms. Nkeki’s husband. She is the first of the over 200 abducted girls, who did not escape after the initial capture, to be freed.

Amina is a Muslim name—for those who know Hebrew or Arabic the word Amunah translates from both languages as faith or trust. Amina reported that many of her fellow classmates are still alive (she knows of six that have died) and being held captive in a particular location. Perhaps Amina’s mother had faith that her daughter would somehow be freed but, along with other mothers, she has lost trust in her own government and the governments of the world to take action to rescue her child.  Now she has a grandchild, a claimed to be son-in-law and her Amina who has undergone the trauma her captivity.

My first instinct was to separate Amina from the list, but upon reflection she is still one of the Chibok girls—she is part of the fabric of our world’s inhumanity and indifference. Amina is forever woven into a garment that is symbolizes the hope that even if trust in humanity is not there, faith abides for the human potential of compassion and cooperation and an end to hatred and domination.


P.S. Write to Michelle Obama to speak up, again, on the need for action to bring back our girls

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