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The Black Jews:

A Survey of Black Jews and Black Hebrew Groups


By Gregory Hilgendorf

Through the course of time, there have been groups of people that influenced by others through trade, integration to their communities by marriage or by migrations. These integrations or interactions of a multiethnic group and another group forms into a new community of people who will eventually come to share common beliefs and traditions that were once separate. However, with the raise of greed and racial ideology which is held with the dominate group; this would force the community to be divided, forcing those who do not share the mainstream ideas, to a separate group. This would cause political constraints on the group as whole to hold down or limit those to coming into power. The purpose of this paper is to look at how one faith influences different groups of people, by surveying the black Jewish groups. I will be looking at the history of the 10 Lost Jewish tribes, and what influences that has had on some of the groups that I will be surveying. The groups that I will be looking at will be those groups found in Africa, and religious groups that formed in the United States during the time follow in the reconstruction period following the civil war. Ten Lost Tribes of Israel These where know as the ancient tribes of Israel that made up the Kingdom of Israel. The ancient kingdom that disappeared from Biblical accounts occurred after invading people from Assyria destroyed the kingdom, forcing many of the conquered Jewish to be enslaved and forced from their homes, to migrate to various places through the world to find safe refuge to rebuild their communities. Many Jewish and Christian groups have doctrines concerning the continued hidden existence or future public return of these tribes. However, this subject based upon the authenticated and

documented historical fact, with use of written religious tradition and partially upon extreme speculation. The Tribes in history From the use of ancient text that the passages from the old testaments that tells of the names of the lost tribes:
According to Genesis 49, Jacob (whose name changed to Israel - Gen. 32:28, 35:9) gathers his sons (12 of them - Gen. 29: 31-35, 30:1-13, 35:22-26) and gives them a prophecy (Gen. 49:1-29). These are the Tribes: From the Eastern Tribes: Tribe of Judah, Tribe of Issachar, Tribe of Zebulun; The Southern Tribes: Reuben, Tribe of Simeon, Tribe of Gad; The Western Tribes: Tribe of Ephraim*, Tribe of Manasseh*, Tribe of Benjamin; The Northern Tribes: Tribe of Dan, Tribe of Asher, and Tribe of Naphtali. *These are the sons of Joseph, who had been in captivity (Genesis chapters 37 through 45) and bore them with the daughter of the Pharaoh's Priest of On, Asenath (Gen. 41:45-52). The Tribe of Levi was set apart to serve in the Holy Temple (Num. 1:47-54, 2:33, 3:6-7). The arrangement of the Tribes given in Numbers 2.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Ten_Tribes). It is by many that the exiled tribes, who were, according to the Second Book of Kings, transported to the region of Media, is now Iran. By moving into that area, they had to assimilate with the Islamic communities. This led to losing their Israelite identity. Some historians believe that there is a Biblical and Talmudic scripture, which states that descendants of the "lost" tribes will reunite with other Jewish people, and returned to the Land of Israel. Yet, the Jewish people over the years have been forced to

hind their faith during times tribulations, crusades, and continual exiles, this forced many to settle into the rest of the world. The usage of genetic testing done on the current tribes of Africa and some small groups in India were to find out whether they are descendants from the original 10 tribes of Israel. With the results from the testing, they are able to verify their decadency from the "lost ten tribes". This led to them knowing the history of their Jewish heritage. One example is the Lemba who has a definite link to Levite Hebrew ancestry, specifically Kohen. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Ten_Tribes).

The Examples of the Black Jewish Groups Church of the Living God F. S. Cherry was the founder of the Black Jewish movement called the Church of God in Philadelphia, 1915. This is the combination of the Christianity and Judaism traditions. They also observed several Jewish practices and prohibitions. The movement has survived under the leadership of Cherrys son, but the little information about it disseminated. (http://www.clgonline.net/home.jsp). Church of God and Saints of Christ The Church of God and Saints of Christ, a Black Hebrew Israelite religious congregation founded in 1896 by Prophet William Saunders Crowdy. It is the oldest congregation that began in the United States, which follows the tenets of the Biblical Jews and the Ten Commandments. The members of this congregation believe they are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. This is almost political thinking, trying to separate them from the minorities at that in time oppressed by racial ideology in the

American culture. In 1906, Prophet Crowdy passed his mantle of leadership to three successors: Chief Joseph W. Crowdy, Bishop William H. Plummer, and Counselor Calvin S. Skinner. Counselor Skinner consecrated for leadership Rabbi Howard Z. Plummer, who prior to his demise ordained Rabbi Levi S. Plummer (http://www.churchofgod1931.org/ ). Currently, Rabbi Jehu A. Crowdy, Jr. leads the congregation, whose headquarters are located in Belleville, Virginia with tabernacles across the United States, Jamaica, and Africa. (http://www.churchofgod1931.org/). African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem is a small religious group whose members believe they are descended from the Ten Tribes of Israel with a population of over 2000; large majorities of them are located in Dimona, Israel. However, many practice polygamy. The groups origins started by a Chicago steel worker named Ben Carter, who later changed his name to Ben-Ami Ben Israel upon his arrival in Israel. Carter claims he had a "vision", in which the archangel Gabriel, who revealed to him that African Americans were, descended from the "lost tribe of Judah", Israelites who were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and, after migrating for 1,000 years settled in West Africa, and later forced to America as slaves. (http://www.kingdomofyah.com/). Carter and 30 of his followers first settled in Liberia and in 1969 began moving to Israel, entering the country with temporary visas that were periodically renewed. As their numbers grew, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel ruled that they were not Jews, and therefore not entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return (http://www.kingdomofyah.com/).

As more members arrived and settled in the desert community of known as Dimona. Their population continued growing through repopulation and migration for another twenty years. However, during that time, the Israeli government refused to grant the group citizenship, yet also avoided deporting them. In May 1990, the group reached an agreement with the government whereby they were granted tourist status with a B/1 visa that entitled them to work; in 1991 they were given temporary resident status for a period of five years which in 1995 was extended for another three years. By 2004, the group gained residency status by the interior ministry, which exempted them from mandatory military service. The population lives in abandon buildings left over from the Israeli government. They are, however, an open community, that has hundreds of visitors each year. The group maintains a vegan diet and abstinence from alcohol, other than wine that they make themselves, and both illegal and pharmaceutical drugs. The group also owns and runs a chain of vegetarian restaurants throughout the country, and in some areas in the USA. The group rejects the Talmud and the idea that Judaism passed down through a person's mother. They also believe that modern-day Jews are not the descendants of the Ten of Israel, and they feel that those who are not part of the original tribe are not the true people of the Jewish faith. (http://www.kingdomofyah.com/). Israelite Church of God and Jesus Christ This group has undergone some evolution and has spawned several permutations over the last forty years. It began by Abba Bivens in the 1960s while living in Harlem. Originally, it called the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge, later its name changed to the Israeli Church of Universal Practical Knowledge. They soon changed the

name again to the Israelite Church of God and Jesus Christ -- they have a belief that white people are know as Edomites, and claim to speak "Lashawan Qadash, some who belong to this group can be seen preaching on the streets of many American cities. They have a firm belief that people who are Blacks, Hispanics and Indians come from a royal heritage of honor, dignity and glory. They also firmly believe that anyone who belongs to this group is the greatest and mightiest people in the earth.(http://www.icgjcmd.org/). They are known as a nation of people who are under the belief that they are Gods true chosen people. The Hebrew Israelites are people who are spiritually reunited, and reclaim the things that where striped from them due to slavery and hatred. This may be because of what they experienced through racial American ideology and practices. They firmly believe that with the use of the New Testament from the King James Bible, the following questions answered: What can save us from the present destruction that our families, our children and our people are sinking into? What can free us, Gods chosen people, from the hands of our enemies and restore us back to the glorious, mighty and holy people that we truly are? They are able to back up their claim by using the passage from: I Corinthians 1:10-13 says:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saint, I am of Paul; and I of Apollo; and I of Cephas and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? (http://www.icgjcmd.org/).

Lemba Lemba is a group of Southern African people. Their native language is Bantu, which is similar to their neighbors. However, they have religious practices similar to those in Judaism. These traditions come from those who migrated from areas of the Middle East to North Africa. Based on oral history of the Lemba, their ancestors were Jews who came from a place called Sena several hundred years ago and settled in East Africa. According to the research of British researcher Tudor Parfitt, the location of Sena was more than likely in Yemen. The Lemba may have a connection with Great Zimbabwe. In recent times, they have established a synagogue with their own rabbis. Some of the restrictions the Lemba placed on them are the fact that they do not allow for intermarrying outside of the community. This is hard for males who want to marry so they may become part of Lemba community. Due to some of the restrictions that placed on them, that most of the males have one thing in common. That is, the males pass on a particular polymorphism on the Y chromosome known as the Cohen modal haplotype suggests an ancestral link to the Jewish population. There is a smaller group of Lemba now belong to a priestly clan, known as the Buba. Most interestingly, fifty-two percent of Buba males carry the Cohen modal haplotype, which is similar to that found between Jewish Kohanim, and priests. The Lemba also have a large percentage of genes often found in non-Arab Semites. By doing this, we can say with the hardships that these people of the faith have experienced, can have an impact on the lives of those who they meet. Looking at what it is to be a Jew, may break down the stereotypes passed down through racist ideals. For

someone who did not fully understand what it is to be a Jew? Someone who is not Jewish, but even my own faith, can see how faith can have an influence on different groups of people. Some of these impacts or some of the traditions these groups have incorporate to their every day lives, and can trace those through one group of people who historically had made an impact on their communities. However, some of the newer communities that been established have used political means along with the combination of Christian and Jewish Faiths, to back up their claims of their existence. Even if they may claim that, they are part of the original Jewish people that fail to recognize that some one who is Jewish comes in all shapes, colors, sexes, and different parts of the world share a common faith. One of the funniest things that I have learned is that all religions groups start out as cults, with an increase in membership, which becomes to known as a mainstream religion, even though there are many who parts of mainstream religious groups are. We must be able to respect them, even if we do not understand or agree with their ideology, whose does not match our own.

Work Cited Church of the Living God. 04-23-06. <http://www.clgonline.net/home.jsp> Church of God 04-22-06. < http://www.churchofgod1931.org/ > Ten Lost Tribes. 04-23-06. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Ten_Tribes>

The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem 04-27-06. < http://www.kingdomofyah.com/ > The Israelite church of god and Jesus Christ, Inc. 04-27-06. <http://www.icgjcmd.org/> The Lemba. 05-01-2006. <http://www.haruth.com/JewsLemba.html>