“What is your religion?” they asked.
I knew that this question would come and had considered how I might answer. The people here are deeply religious, but most are Muslim or Christian and are unfamiliar with anything else.
“I am Jewish,” I answered.
I was met by puzzled looks. Finally, one of the elders spoke.
“But,” he said hesitantly but with pride, “isn’t that your tribe?”
“Yes!” I said.
They were thrilled. They knew my tribe! But I continued. “It’s both religion AND tribe.”
Puzzled, concerns looks. Moments of silence. Finally one of the men broke out howling. “Religion AND tribe!!! This is very, very funny!!!” A second leader gave him a quick look of death and a slap. The laughing man calmed down. I gave a basic explanation of Judaism, which they took in, wide-eyed. “Well,” one said, once I was done, “I am happy to know your tribe. Greetings to them from our Arringa tribe. We wish your brothers and sisters well. I smiled and promised to deliver the message.