Re: *PLEASE EXPAND ON AFRICA'S JEWS!*
Posted By: Masimba Musodza In Response To: *PLEASE EXPAND ON AFRICA'S JEWS!* (iyah360)
Date: Wednesday, 23 June 2004, at 11:16 a.m.
In Response To: *PLEASE EXPAND ON AFRICA'S JEWS!* (iyah360)
Well, I think it looks like you already know of the African origins of the Jewish people. What elaboration do you need exactly?
I think the problem of Jews and Rasta on this board is that there are not enough Rastafarians as I understand the word participating. Most of the people here seem to be what I call Khemitists, Nubianists, Nation of Islam etc, all of which as organisations have from time to time identified with Rastafari when it suits them yet continue to have an agenda inimical to that of Rastafari. How else can you explain why for days on end, there has been a raging debate on raceand race mixing? How else can you explain why most of the contributors NEVER QUOTE FROM THE BIBLE- which is the Holy Book of Rastafari.
Clearly, Rastafari as a religion and culture is essentially Judaic. Obviously in Theology, it is Christian, but in the day to day lives of Rastafarians, one sees a continuation of the so-called Old Testament.
I think many people have a problem today with being called Jews is that there is a people who came out of Europe and call themselves Jews and are not doing nice things in the Middle-East. This is a complex issue- these white Jews enjoy a position from which they decide who is Jewish and who is not. Because many Black Jewish communities are older and do not have some aspects of modern Judaism such as the Talmud, these original Jews are not welcomed by their White counterparts.
There is also a document called the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which has been used to promote the idea of a plot by these White Jews to take over the world etc. This document, for anyone who cares to do their research, is in fact of the Templars and speaks of a plot to install a Merovingian King on a throne in Europe.
It is my position that the Rastafarian is an Israelite. is this not the central message of the Kebra Naghast; that the people of Africa received the Law, that the Ark was brought to AFrica and that Solomon himself predicted that the Africans would remember this Law because of a man born there who would be his Son?I do not have a problem with the books that list Rastafari as a sect of Judaism.
I hope this answers your questions. I have also added some stuff from the internet. I do not agree with all of the following, I have posted it to illustrate to you that this thing of Black Jews is deep.
Posted by Jennifer on 29th January 2002 22:40
I am a Black Jew from Israel and there are Black Jews in this world,it’s not a gimmick but a fact. It is time for everyone to put their prejudices behind,and move on. It really is amazing that Black Jews around the world always have to prove their Jewishness, where as Sephardic/Ashkenanzi Jews are accepted without questions. The Ethiopian Jews had to go through this validation process, and now the Lemba tribe is subjected to this as well. This problem is excacerbated by the myth which states that you must be White in order to be Semitic. But who is it that created this myth? Perhaps it was started by the same people who created the false European image of Christ in the 15th century. In any case it is time that we begin destroy these myths. Here is the finding on the Lemba Tribe:
Genetic tests on the Lemba people of Southern Africa show convincing evidence the Bantu-speaking tribe may be of Jewish ancestry.
A team of geneticists have discovered that Lemba men carry a DNA sequence that is distinctive to the Cohanim, a hereditary set of Jewish priests. The priests are different from rabbis, and perform certain ritual roles.
The Lemba, who practice circumcision, keep one day a week holy and avoid eating pork or pig-like animals, have long asserted they are of Jewish heritage.
The discovery of the common DNA sequences stemmed from research being done into the Jewish tradition that priests are the descendants of Aaron, the elder brother of Moses.
An analysis of the male Y chromosome found in 1997 that a particular pattern of DNA changes was much more common among Cohanim priests than among lay Jews. A population geneticist at Oxford University in England, took that discovery one step further.
``In studying the priesthood, we happened into this tool for distinguishing Jewish from non-Jewish populations.'' Unlike in other chromosomes.The genetic material of the Y chromosome remains more or less unchanged from generation to generation, making it a useful tool in discovering heritage, the newspaper reported.
The geneticist found a particular set of Genetic mutation results that was strongly associated with the priestly caste, not so common among lay Jews and very rare in non-Jewish populations. He then tested DNA samples collected from the Lemba Men.
Research showed that the proportion of Lemba men carrying the genetic signature of the priests were similar to those found among the major Jewish populations, strongly supporting the Lemba tradition of Jewish ancestry.
And the DNA sequences were particularly common among Lemba men who belong to the Buba clan, the senior of their 12 groups. The Lemba, from South Africa and Zimbabwe, believe they were led out of Judea by a man named Buba.
In the Bible/Torah/Torah Zimbabwe ,Sena and Ethiopia are mentioned in the Bible. That 3,290 children were led out of captivity during King Solomon time. I come from Isreal but my ancestors are from Mutare,where my fellow Lemba Family settled. It’s about time people accept Blacks as one of The Lost Tribes Of Isreal.
I am Atieno and l am a Black Jew from Israel and my ancestors settled in Karoi, in Zimbabwe. My mother's relatives are from Israel from a place called Senna.
I am now Living in the U.K.
lt is true why is it that the White Jews are not having DNA tests.But we Black Jews are subjected to these tireless tests.
I must say that Dr Tudor Parfitt did a good thing to test the Lemba's. Since the White Jews and the Israelites like ie: The Semities., They didn't believe that Blacks have Jewish roots. Dr Tudor even supported Black Jews saying that,Jews travelled to the shores of Africa. But this Lady in that article was saying that: The Jew Rules say that Lemba Black Jews are not Jew by custom.
I was saying that not all Whites are original Jews like in Europe there are Whites. In Africa there are Blacks and Light Skinned Jews. In Asia there are Indian's, Chinese Jews etc.
So l'm saying that how can Whites in Europe just wake up one morning and say:'Oh we are Jews'.The Rabbai's in Isreal say ‘yes they are Jews’. A certain Rabbai in SouthAfrica, also made an unjust remark.
But we Blacks we have always known to be Jews,but because of apartheid we never got the chance. Now we have The Rabbi's say we are not Jews.
This Article called: 'Israel’s Doorstep to Africa'. This Rabbai said:'I can invite Lemba's into my house but l won't let them marry my daughter'.
But the White Jews in Europe l bet most of them don't even have that Jewish Blood. The only White Jews can be become Jews is if they marry Black Jews or The Ashekenazi Jews in Isreal like: Moses wife.
I searched the net and found out that someone said:
Originally Jews were African's like Black Africans. I am proud of that, because Bantu Jews know that people won't accept them. Like in Rusape, Zimbabwe,Mozambique,Kenya they are Jews and they said: 'We know Orthodox Jews won't accept us'.
In the Bible Moses married a woman who was actually from Ethiopia. And Moses sister and brother objected her. God punished Mariam, and Moses was kind and prayed. To God to heal her. In fact Aaron and Moses actually have Black Jews children. Like Lembas, Senna Jews which is where l am from.
My mother has relatives in Rusape who are the Jews too. But my family was moved to Karoi,during the apartheid time. And my cousin,mum and l. We both have dreams like Visions ‘ Daniel's Visions’. But l am an Seventh Day Adventist like my Dad who's a Black Egyptian and my mum who's a Black Israelite.
I saw the program 'The Lost Tribes Of Israel 'and l was surprised. They talked about The Lemba, and the Zimbabwe Jews l think from Rusape. I didn’t know l was a Blck Jew until that programme on Sky TV. Mum said,I know Sena my Parents always talks about that place, as their ancestry.
They found out the Lemba’s in SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe had Jewish Priesthood which had Priesthood Genes. Like 54% KHG and the Lemba with 9%. KHG I watched it with my mum,it'as exciting!!
And you know what the Rabbai’s said: They should ignore the DNA tests, they don't need tests. But Blacks whether Jew,Christian,heathen we're always looked down upon in all continents. So we needed Dr Tudor Parfitt to tests us. I thank him too. He was sent by God.
Thanks for posting the thread.
On why The Rabbai's in Isreal,Europe,deny that there are Jews. And we are one of 'The Lost Tribes Of Isreal'. God said to Abraham, l'm going to scatter your descendants and look,it's true. We are all over the World.
May God Bless You.
Atieno(Senna Black Jew)
Most of the American adherents of Judaism and their descendants emigrated from Europe during the religious and political upheavals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their home counties (i.e. England or Germany)had strong ties with the United States and in some instances, provided financial means for resettlement. Those are two reasons why Americans are more familiar with fairer-skinned Jews.
Another reason is cultural isolationism. For centuries, historical records attest to the fact that there are and have been large populations of Black Jews in Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Bostwana. However, Black Jews from these respected nations did not emigrate to the West, but rather remained for generations on ancestral territory. While some Black Jews from Somalia and Ethiopia did emigrate to the nation-state of Israel, most remained in cities in which they had established cultural bonds. It is because of this, Americans (and other Westerners) have not come into contact with Blacks born into Judaism.
Posted by Tiger32 on 30th January 2002 05:02
The Sephardic Jews were black or dark skinned when they emigrated from Morocco and Palestine to Spain, however they intermarried with the locals and became white. The Jews from most of Europe are Ashkenazi Jews, they are descendants of the Khazars who converted to Judaism in 760 A.D.. 90 percent of the white Jews of Europe and America are descendants from these Khazars. This fact is well documented by Professor Poliak, and Arthur Koestler both of which are Jews from eastern European descent.
Posted by Boykin_Spaniel on 30th January 2002 19:37
Thanks for the cultural enlightenment, Tiger 32.
Posted by Zerbib on 12th April 2002 16:54
Shalom u Braha.
Ashkénazim are not descendants of the Khazars. Since the Kohen chromosome had been found both among the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi communities, this indicated that the origin of the Ashkenazim pre-dated the conversion of the Khazars. It seems that in south Africa, you (Blacks and Whites) grant a big importance for the colour but the problem of the Bubas is religious: the Muslims practice circumcision, keep one day a week holy and don’t eat pork: does it mean they are Jews?. I live in France but I am a Jew of Algeria (North Africa). My skin is white but the skin of others persons in my family is matt. I don’t think I’m a “white” they don’t think they are “Blacks”, we all know that we are Jews. Why? Because, we kept the practice of Hebrew and the study of Torah and Talmud. This identify us at once as Jews and links us whith the Ashkenazim. I have no doubt that the Bubas are Jews but I can understand that the religious authorities insist on the study of Hebrew and Torah ( they are paid for that!) before making any statement.
Posted by Tiger32 on 16th April 2002 02:53
You are incorrect, I suggest that you read Professor Poliak's book entitled "Khazaria", and also read Arthur Koestler's book "The Thirteenth Tribe". Once you have read these two books I will be willing to debate with you on this subject. But until then, it would be pointless to debate on this subject, because you are clearly lacking the knowledge to make such a debate worthwhile.
[Edited by Tiger32 on 16th April 2002 at 02:18]
Posted by Jennifer on 22nd April 2002 00:32
Rabson Wuriga and Kohen Kosinathi Imanuel bet Shmon Nyati
A dialog which appeared on Kulanu's listserv in December 2001
there is something that troubles me whenever it comes to some of the ideas that feature in our listserv. in most cases when anybody from Africa, Middle-East, Far-East, India simply says my grandfather/mother told me that I am an Israelite or a Jew, if this is not proven true via any DNA engineering technique from America, Europe or Australia, the reaction is, 'Its not true, they simply copied the Jewish culture exposed to them by the Jews who lived among them when they were slaves or when they were passing-bye.' After all the history and culture of Israel, like the rest of Middle-East and Africa was orally transmitted. Our listserve has become too euro-centric. i know that each one of us is entitled to his own view, but ...
Kohen Kosinathi Imanuel bet Shmon Nyati
Yes we all have the right to expression! and healthy i think it is. We BetEl congregation have noticed and our Elders tried so hard to conscientise the world of how eurocentric the globe has become in everything it does. The way we see, look, act, sense, and even feel emotion is now eurocentric, with grave dangers in store.
Rusape Elders lead by "Kohenim" under Chief Kohen Maguwazah, descendants of the (Lozvi, Makoni) or (Levi, Koheni) of Zimbabwe "Va Tshangamiri" have said for generations. "Let (Us) not forget how all this came about then maybe (We) can find out something's about this historical phenomenon yet fact of nature. For it is quite clear from history that it was not always as so. Into history at a glance Middle-East Azania gulf of Aden, (Eden) of our ancestors, who roamed the fertile crest Nile/Tigris were a tall slim (Black) "Cauc-Asian" people spreading from Uganda to the "Cauc" mountains. High cheek bones, thin lips on some, thick on others and many big bridged noses i can tell you. The last of that genetic remnant still reside in Sudan/Ethiopia as proud fierce warriors the sons of Kush and Ham, founders of the first Empires and civilisations as Torah so well purports. Not as shy as (Us) Hebrews and Yisraelites their descendants from uncle/brother Shem who must have been just as black. For as long as academia discontinues to recognise this truth by persisting in Hellenistic or founder of western thought, that "original" Hebrews were blue-eyed, blond-hair "Viking-looking" or Roman-Greeks, no disrespect to any. Then i fear the dream of world citizenship, true heritage, as a covenanted passage to "lasting human inner peace" in ideals values and culture, shall remain but in the fleeting of illusion to be pursued, and never attained. Egos shall rule as Ego shall destroy civilisation, not promote it. Lest we forget this was the Hellenisation program philosophy in the name of progress and very soon after the name of "jesus" as part of that petty progress. The Light of Yisrael shines brightly but not blindingly nor blindly.
We original Eastern or Edenic, Yisraelim and Ivrit, accept our western brothers and sisters as the off spring of the original Edenic family stem but only in certain terms. Our cultural law history, explain how the fathers of many of our off spring were not Hebrews. For lack of knowledge which i doubt any how they did not pay the necessary bride-dowry as our culture demands. Thus their children remain to us as still being Hebrews though through the Hebrew mother. Only when a bride dowry is paid in (full) to the parents of a Hebrew woman, born of a Hebrew father we consider those children as still belonging to their Hebrew father and thus are Hebrews to us.
Any children born from the union of a Hebrew woman and a non-Hebrew father who has not paid a bride dowry is considered a Hebrew by us until the dowry is paid and paid in full, particularly before the marriage is consummated.
This cultural ethic also acted as a control valve for men both foreign or Hebrew to show a necessary commitment of insurance purposes before marrying any of our women. Our history quite sadly fails to show this dowry being actively paid by non-Hebrew men to us Hebrews for our women, specifically of Yisrael. On the contrary history clearly shows the systematic rape of our women, namely by Assyrians, Babylonians and later Greeks and Romans whose off spring we would still ethically consider Hebrews but only through their Hebrew mothers due to this special and extremely sensitive case of birth by rape. These are our children and we will not give them back to the rapist fathers full stop.
In our Torah clear examples of Yisak and Yakov paying full bride dowry either in material cash or in kind as acts of showing dedication and commitment to guaranty the release of a bride to her potential groom by her parents. We Eden Azania Yisraelim still call this action of bride dowry, "Lobola" or "Rowora" and when it is paid in full we say of the groom and his bride. "Va-tshatana" they are married or wedded. Rather close to hebrew "Khatana" wouldn't you say?
spokes person BetEl Zimbabwe
Shalom ale chem
Kohen Kosinathi Imanuel bet Shmon Nyati
Uganda's black Jews
Unusual Judaic tribe still practices some ancient rituals
Posted: May 5, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Anthony C. LoBaido
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – When Rabbi Seth Levin came to Africa, he was hoping for a vacation complete with time in the sun and a safari. What the former Israeli commando found instead was a unique tribe of black Jews in Uganda.
"Not many in the West realize that the British colonial administration in Uganda offered Uganda as a homeland for the Jews a century ago," Levin told WorldNetDaily in a recent interview. Levin was completing his vacation with a stop in Cape Town's wine lands.
"During the Zionist Congress held around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, Uganda and Argentina were considered, along with Palestine, as a suitable homeland for the Jewish people," he explained.
During his travels around Africa, Levin went to Uganda and came across the Abayudaya Jews, who, to his surprise, wore yarmulkes, baked matzoth bread, ate kosher foods and prayed in Hebrew.
"My wife and I found that the Abayudaya Jews are practicing ancient rituals that we Jews in America and Israel gave up long ago," he said.
Levin said that he met Gershom Sizomu, the top leader of the Abayudaya movement.
"Other rabbis have visited Uganda and interacted with this community. There are also Jewish believers in nearby Ethiopia. Many Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel … along with many Russians. This has happened since the 1980s. Some see this as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy."
Levin told WorldNetDaily that the Abayudaya are not a part of the "lost tribes of Israel," but rather, "were converted to Judaism from Christianity after World War I."
Last month, a proper rabbinical court traveled from Israel to Uganda to formally convert many of the Abayudaya – most of whom are poverty-stricken subsistence farmers near Kampala – to Judaism. Levin said that this was important so that the Ugandan Jews would be brought closer to their brethren in Israel.
Many Abayudaya hope to get increased funding for establishing Jewish cultural institutions in Uganda.
Uganda is a nation gripped by many problems, such as genocide, AIDS and the legacy of the mass murder of Idi Amin.
"Ironically, Idi Amin did some training with the Israeli military," Levin told WND. "Life can be so strange."
A former Ugandan princess spoke of the problems her country has faced.
"In Uganda, AIDS is a huge problem," she told WND, "and it seems as if the book of Revelation has come to life at times. But there is always hope."
The princess, who asked that her name not be used because of political reasons, was smuggled out of Uganda as a baby during one of Amin's purges. She moved to the American Southwest, where she lived with a relative.
Commented Levin, "It seems that Uganda was destined to become a Jewish colony after all."
Speaking of the Abayudaya, Levin said, "They have paid a great price to follow the God of the Bible. Idi Amin, for a time, outlawed Judaism and closed Uganda's synagogues."
Lane Rosen, a South African Internet technology professional based in Cape Town, told WorldNetDaily he was going to travel to Uganda to visit with the Abayudaya.
"The Abayuda had to hold services to worship God in secret during the time of persecution under Idi Amin. This shows their faithfulness. We Jews in Israel, America and South Africa should find their story both a revelation and an inspiration."
Egyptian Jews began trading with tribes in the northern part of Mali as long ago as biblical times and pushed further and further into the foreboding Sahara throughout the centuries. In the eighth century A.D. the Rhadanites (multi-lingual Jewish traders) settled in Timbuktu and used it as a base from which they could solidify their trade routes through the desert. In the 14th and 15th centuries Jews fleeing Spanish persecution settled in Timbuktu. Members of the Kehath (Ka'ti) family founded three villages that still exist near Timbuktu -- Kirshamba, Haybomo, and Kongougara. In 1492, King Askia Muhammed took power in Timbuktu and threatened Jews who did not convert to Islam with execution. Some Jews fled, some converted, some remained in Mali and faced centuries of persecution and the occasional massacre. By the 20th century there were no practicing Jews in Mali.
However, in the 1990s Malian Jewry has begun to experience a revival. Ismael Diadie Haidara, a historian from Timbuktu, has been at the forefront of the movement to explore Mali’s Jewish past. In 1993 Haidara established Zakhor (the Timbuktu Association for Friendship with the Jewish World) as an informal association of Malian descendants of Jews. Zakhor’s members hope to teach their children about their Jewish heritage, learn and use Hebrew as a second language and publish histories of their ancestry. In Timbuktu alone there are almost a thousand descendants of Jews who have become interested in exploring their identity.
BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES
The very words cause many people to grin at what appears to be simply a play on words. No one reads about such people in european authored history books and there are only a few references to "Ethiopian Jews" in white Jewish sources. Yet Black Hebrews have existed since biblical times. In fact, they are the original or proto-typical Hebrews.
Their story begins with the Patriarch Abraham (2117-1942 B.C.), a native of the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeological discoveries have proven that the earliest inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia were members of the "Brown Race," i.e., the Negroid branch of humanity.
It has been confirmed that the ancient Sumerians were akin to the modern Black Dravidians of India. The Sumerians also had an affinity with a people known as the Elamites, the very first Semitic group mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 10:22). The Elamites were a black-skinned and woolly-haired people as the colorful glazed artwork on the royal palace walls of the ancient Persian city of Susa clearly show.Thus Abraham, the native of Sumerian and the founding father of the Israelite nation, was a black man. The black racial origins of the Patriarchs is not based on mere conjecture, it is in complete agreement with the picture one gets from examining the identity of the earliest inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia.
This truth is grossly neglected, suppressed, and distorted in most European and American historical texts which are flavored with race prejudice. Fortunately, however, there are enough well authored and highly researched works by Black historians that challenge the Eurocentric revisions of history and correct the various erroneous views regarding the ethnic identity of the Hebrews.
Biblical history relates that the descendants of Abraham, namely Jacob (Israel) and his twelve sons and their wives, 70 in all, migrated from Canaan to Egypt around the year 1827 B.C. During their sojourn in Egypt the Children of Israel multiplied from being a family of 70 souls to a nation of over 3 million people at the time of the Exodus which took place in 1612 B.C.
This astounding number of people in so short a time can only be adequately explained by intermarriage between the family of Jacob and the native Egyptian populace. It is an established fact that the ancient Egyptians were a black African people. Thus, even if the Hebrews were not black before they arrived in Egypt, which is unlikely given Abraham's background, they were definitely black by the time they left Egypt under Moses
The biblical Hebrews were indistinguishable from native Egyptians and Ethiopians. The Bible is full of examples which demonstrates this, and even ancient secular historians remarked of the physical appearances of the Hebrews. The historian Tacitus, for example, stated that it was a common opinion among the Romans that the Jews "were an Ethiopian race." In Roman times PalestinianIsraelites were classed among Black Africans because it was almost impossible to tell them apart.
Hence, the Eurocentric notion of the Black Hebrew as a kind of Johnnie-come-lately in Hebraic history does not accord with the facts. On the contrary, the historical record is abundantly clear that the majority of white European Jewry are not Hebrews in the biological sense but are actually the descendants of converts to Judaism during Greco-Roman and Mediaeval times. Professor Roland B. Dixon states emphatically that: "The great majority of all Jews [Ashkenazi] to-day are 'Semites' only in speech, and their true ancestry goes back not so much to Palestine and Arabia as to the uplands of Anatolia and Armenia, the Caucasus and the steppes of Central Asia, and their nearest relatives are still to be found in these areas to-day" (Racial History Of Man, p. 175).
Caucasian Jews are not the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Nor do they constitute a separate race but rather a religious fraternity which adheres to the ethnic tradition of a people whose origins are inextricably linked to Black Africa.
But if the original Hebrews were black where are their descendants in the world today? Are all black people Hebrews? The answer to the latter question is obviously no. The Israelites were only one of several black people existing in ancient the ancient world. Nevertheless, it is certain that the ancient Hebrews customs and practices who's legacy orginated in Africa, were adopted by that of white Jews in Europe. Very little is heard about the hundreds of thousands of Black Hebrews living in various parts of the world such as Africa, Asia, India, Arabia, the Caribbean islands, South America, and North America.
The history of Black Hebrews in North America is perhaps one of the most important chapters in US history which has yet to be fully written. The ancestors of African Americans came from West Africa during the era of slavery. That particular region of Africa was once home to a number of Black Hebrew tribes that migrated from North and East Africa over many centuries. In speaking of these migrations, Dr. Yoseph A. A. ben-Yochannan writes that: "In North Africa, just before the period of Christianity's legal entry into Rome - due to Constantine "the Great" conversion in the 4th century - there were many Hebrew (Jewish) 'tribes' that are of indigenous African (the so-called 'Negroes') origin.
These African Jews, as all other Romanized-African of this era, were caught in a rebellion in Cyrene (Cyrenaica) during 115 C.E. against Roman imperialism and colonialism. This rebellion also marked the beginning of a mass Jewish migration southward into Soudan (Sudan or West Africa) along the way of the city Aer (Air) and into the countries of Futa Jalon and Senegal (Sene-Gambia) which lie below the parabolic curve of the Niger River's most northern reaches, where the City of Tumbut (Timbuktu, Timbuctoo, etc.), Melle (Mali) presently stands." ("African Origins of the Major Western Religions," 1970, p. 76).
Dr. Ben goes on to relate that Black Israelite immigrants from northern and eastern Africa merged with indigenous groups in western Africa to become the Fulani of Futa Jalon, Bornu, Kamen, and Lake Chad. They also formed the parent-stock of groups such as the Ashanti, the Hausa, the B'nai Ephraim (mentioned in earlier posts), and the Bavumbu (Mavumbu or Ma-yomba). All of these groups suffered tremendous population decreases during the years the Atlantic slave trade was in operation, others were completely eliminated.
Thus, every so-called African American has Israelite ancestry in their family tree whether he or she knows it or not. Even in the very crucible of slavery the descendants of West African Hebrew captives in America struggled to keep their heritages from being obliterated by forced assimilation and acculturation. Their distinctive traditions became submerged in Christianity but always remained a part of the oral tradition via the so-called Negro Spirituals which praise the memory of ancestors and kinsmen like Moses, David, Joshua, and Daniel.
Since the African-American conviction of having Israelite ancestry antedates the Civil War it is not surprising that the earliest Black Hebrew congregation to be established in North America was founded in the 1880s in Chattanooga, Tennessee by F. S. Cherry (the group later moved to Philadelphia). Cherry was a railroad worker and seaman who was fluent in both Yiddish and Hebrew. He adamantly preached that so-called American Negroes are really the lost sheep of the House of Israel whose true legacy was stolen from them during slavery. He urged his hearers to investigate their history in order to rediscover this truth and reclaim their heritage.
In 1896, a man by the name of William S. Crowdy established another Hebrew congregation in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1899, Leon Richlieu established the Moorish Zionist Temple in Brooklyn. To date there are literally hundreds of uncharted Black Hebrew congregations in North America. They do not exist because of an aversion for mainstream American Protestantism or an attraction to white Jewish culture. As stated earlier, Black Hebrews have always been in the world; and they repudiate the notion that they are usurpers of the heritage of white Jews.
The great proliferation of Black Hebrew groups occurred after World War I during the Great Migration of Blacks from rural areas in the South to urban centers in the North. There were at least nine Black Hebrew congregations in New York in the early 1900s, one of which was founded by a West Indian named Arnold Josiah Ford called "Beth B'nai Abraham Congregation." In 1918, another West Indian born Israelite named Wentworth Arthur Matthews founded the "Commandment Keepers," and emerged as one of the leading Black Israelite rabbis in Harlem. Born in 1892 of African Hebraic parentage in Lagos, West Africa, Matthews moved with his family to St. Kitts in the West Indies before coming to America in 1911.
Branches of the "Commandment Keepers" exist in many American cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati, Chicago, Ohio, Virginia, and New Jersey. In 1965, the "House of Judah" was founded by William Lewis in Wetumpka, Alabama. The group later purchased a twenty-acre tract near Grand Junction, Michigan where they practice a communal life-style. Black Hebrews feel that by reclaiming their Israelite identity they have also recovered an important part of their ancestral heritage. They hold to the conviction that their "Hebrewness" is directly traceable to their African forebears of Israelite extraction who were brought to this country during slavery. They are cognizant and proud of their non-Hebrew African heritages but like many other people with mixed backgrounds they opt to give certain of their forebears a more pronounced place in their identity.
Black Israelite groups in America are decentralized and varied in ideology.Unlike white Orthodox Jews, Black Hebrews reject the Talmud, a collection of commentaries, as being on a par with the Bible and so they do not conform to rabbinical judgments which emphasize the need of conversion to Talmudism in order to be considered "truly" Jewish.
Since the Bible recognizes patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent, Black Hebrews (like Reform Jews) do not place any special significance on having a "Jewish" mother as do Orthodox Jews. Another major reason why the Talmud is rejected is due to its role in creating the so-called Hamitic Myth which is the doctrine that teaches that all black-skinned people are the cursed descendants of Ham in the Bible.
It was the promulgation of this erroneous myth, passing under the guise of "Jewish" talmudic scholarship, which provided the moral pretext for European slavery of Africans. The Talmud was not the product of ethnic Hebrews but of proselytized Babylonian sages who worked on editing it from the 3rd to in the 6th century A.D. It should not be used as the litmus test on Hebrew identity, particularly since it was of men who were clearly prejudice of Blacks, Israelites or otherwise.
A major dilemma facing many Black Hebrews who wish to settle in Israel has to do with the Talmud and the fact that conversion is a mandatory prerequisite for gaining Israeli citizenship. The Black Jews from Ethiopian were not allowed to immigrate to Israel until they agreed to undergo a ceremonial conversion to white Judaism (which was tantamount to a denial of their own Hebrewness) and embrace the Talmud. However, many Ethiopian Jews, particular in the aftermath of the recent blood scandal in Israel, are seriously rethinking their decision to adopt the Talmud because it has not given them equal status with other white Israelis.
Ethiopians Jews occupy the bottom rung of Israeli society today because they are black and are not considered "true" Hebrews because of their blackness. American Black Hebrews wanting to join their Ethiopian brethren feel that the Israeli Law of Return is unjust because it forces recognition of a racist text (the Talmud) in order to be considered eligible for citizenship It is truly ironic that the descendants of the original Hebrews are not considered to be Hebrews even in their own land because they happen to look like their distant forebears.
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