African-American Jews

African-American Jews are people who are both African-American and Jewish. African-American Jews may be either Jewish from birth or converts to Judaism. Many African-American Jews are of mixed heritage, having both African-American gentile and non-black Jewish ancestors.

North AmericaEdit

The American Jewish community includes Jews with African-American backgrounds. African-American Jews belong to each of the major American Jewish denominationsOrthodox, Conservative, Reform—and the smaller movements as well, such as Reconstructionist or Humanistic. Like their white Jewish counterparts, there are also African-American Jewish secularists and African-American Jews who may rarely or never take part in religious practices.[1]

Robin Washington, an American journalist and filmmaker, became one of three founders of the National Conference of Black Jews, later called the Alliance of Black Jews. It was conceived to build bridges among all African-American Jews, who are affiliated with many different groups. Estimates of the number of black Jews in the United States range from 20,000[2] to 200,000.[3]

There are several predominantly African-American synagogues in The United States, such as Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, which is a synagogue in Chicago, Illinois. The congregation leader of Beth Shalom is Rabbi Capers Funnye. Its assistant rabbis are Avraham Ben Israel and Joshua V. Salter.[4] The congregation, which has about 200 members, is mostly African American.[5][6] The congregation was started by Rabbi Horace Hasan from Bombay (now Mumbai), India, in 1918 as the Ethiopian Hebrew Settlement Workers Association,[7] and it was influenced by Wentworth Arthur Matthew's Commandment Keepers.[5][6]

Black Hebrew Israelites are groups of African Americans and other black people who self-identify as Jews, but are not recognized as such by Jews.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wolfson, Bernard J. (1999). "African American Jews". In Chireau, Yvonne; Deutsch, Nathaniel (eds.). Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 33–34. ISBN 0-19-511257-1.
  2. ^ David Whelan (May 8, 2003). "A Fledgling Grant Maker Nurtures Young Jewish 'Social Entrepreneurs'". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved February 8, 2009.
  3. ^ Michael Gelbwasser (April 10, 1998). "Organization for black Jews claims 200,000 in U.S." j. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  4. ^ "Divine Law or Sexism?". National Public Radio. July 12, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Chireau, Yvonne (2000). "Black Culture and Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism, 1790–1930, an Overview". In Yvonne Patricia Chireau; Nathaniel Deutsch (eds.). Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 48. ISBN 0-19-511257-1.
  6. ^ a b Angell, Stephen W. (Spring 2001). "Yvonne Chireau and Nathaniel Deutsch, eds, Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism". The North Star: A Journal of African American Religious History. 4 (2). Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Koppel, Niko (March 16, 2008). "Black Rabbi Reaches Out to Mainstream of His Faith". The New York Times.

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