Meet Israel’s Dopest
Hebrew Israelite MCs

September 6, 2017AHIJ, music
Kendrick Lamar and Kodak Black are popular rappers with millions of fans. They are also self-proclaimed Israelites. In a recent Genius article, Sam Kestenbaum explained that Kendrick and Kodak aren't the first American rappers to embrace the Hebrew Israelite spiritual movement, which promotes the ideas that the ancient Israelites were black and African Americans are their direct, genealogical [...]

The Warrior

July 31, 2017In Memoriam

The walls of Ahk Ahmeshadye’s house in the Village of Peace are covered with family photographs—black and white prints from the 1950s and ’60s, color prints from later decades, blurry candids, formal portraits, and a few collages, all framed and tacked up in something like chronological order. Step inside the front door and there, in […]

Amar’e Stoudemire,
Hebrew Israelite

October 10, 2016Uncategorized

Is Amar’e Stoudemire a Hebrew Israelite or a Jew? Readers can’t be faulted if they are confused about Stoudemire’s identity after reading David Kaufman’s Oct. 9 profile of the former Knicks forward, who now lives in Israel and plays for Hapoel Jerusalem. In the article, Kaufman describes Stoudemire as “an unlikely Jew” and as someone who didn’t come out […]

Ben Ammi goes to Washington

October 16, 2015AHIJ

Fifteen years ago today, Ben Ammi Ben Israel—the late spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem—gave a brief but memorable speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The occasion was the Million Family March, organized by the Nation of Islam and attended by hundreds of thousands of black men, women, and children. […]

The comforter of a nation

May 18, 2015In Memoriam

On April 26 I received a short Facebook message from Zariyah, my spiritual brother in Dimona: “E Nekamah has passed on.” My heart sank. Emah Nekamah was the matriarch of the family I lived with for 14 months in 2007-2008 while conducting research on the African Hebrew Israelite community. She graciously welcomed me into her home and treated me […]

“Everybody has their demons”: Interviews with African Hebrew Israelite soldiers

April 2, 2015AHIJ

[su_quote]The military can be really challenging because it’s something far away from what we’ve been used to. Some people are overwhelmed by the experience. … Everybody has their own small challenges. Everybody has their demons they have to fight.[/su_quote] I was reminded of these words—spoken by a member of the African Hebrew Israelite community, who […]

The Whipping Man and the not-so-secret relationship between blacks and Jews

March 2, 2015Uncategorized

The Whipping Man, which just closed at the Pasadena Playhouse after a month long run, tells the story of a Jewish Confederate captain who staggers back to his family’s crumbling mansion in Richmond, Virginia in April 1865, just days after the Civil War has ended. The badly wounded soldier (Adam Haas Hunter) is reunited with two of […]

With song and dance, African Hebrew Israelites honor their departed leader

January 5, 2015AHIJ

They wore white garments and buttons proclaiming, “Ben Ammi lives in me.” They sang his favorite songs. They performed his favorite dance routine. They spoke directly to him, extolling his good looks, virtues and leadership. This is how the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem paid tribute to their late spiritual leader, Ben Ammi Ben Israel, […]

Ben Ammi and me

December 29, 2014In Memoriam

By now, the news has traveled around the world that Ben Ammi Ben Israel, the spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites, passed away on Saturday at the age of 75. I wrote an obituary for Haaretz but want to share a few personal recollections of him here. When I first arrived in Dimona to begin researching the community in the […]