Are the adherents of 'Hebrew Israelites' church Jews from the 'mainstream' point of view and why (why yes or why not)? I have found mixed information on the topic.

Also some of them seek conversion, some migrated to Jerusalem (??? it is real - how and why?) and some oppose 'mainstream' Jewish decominations and hold they are the true Hebrews but are not recognized by other groups.

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    I don't know this group. Do you have a link with information you consider reliable about them? Sep 4, 2012 at 2:35
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    @MonicaCellio: not really, there is a Wikipedia article but it does not dig into relation to the mainstream: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hebrew_Israelites . I know there are black Jews, who can also show Middle Eastern origins of themselves like beta Israel, but this is different. Their Christianity is also unclear to me because they hold Jesus was not a demi-G-d or a G-d but a prophet. Strange. Some of the subgroups of them according to Wiki have moved to Israel.
    – MichaelS
    Sep 4, 2012 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


From what I gather (from here and elsewhere), the group is a Christian group which accepts Jesus as a messianic figure and which considers itself to be the only valid set of descendants from the ancient tribal sons of Jacob. They have no connection to Judaism that modern Judaism would accept (without matrilineal descent or an approved process of conversion) and claim that the proof of their connection is that black people found world-wide suffer the curses in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, and this defines who is a proper "Israelite". They deny, then that modern Judaism has anything to do with who Israelites are or that anyone else who isn't black can claim any connection.

Because they lack any actual familial tradition of connection, and do not practice Judaism, they are not accepted as Jews.


The Hebrew Israelite issue is a demonstration of how complete and unfounded wannabism can be turned into a reality.

Towards the end of the 19th century some African-Americans churches who previously had identified themselves with the ancient Hebrews shifted into an identification as ancient Hebrews. This movement gave birth to various groups, mostly clear Christian denominations and others that mix Jewish and Evangelical elements in their worship. The Commandment Keepers founded by Wentworth A. Matthew, for example, adopted mostly traditional Jewish worship and lifestyle and kept cordial ties with the mainstream Judaism.

While the Commandment Keepers viewed the non-black Jews as those who preserved Judaism over the centuries many of the present-day Hebrew Israelites accuse the rabbinic Jews of being white impostors. The Anti-Defamation League has accused some groups of promoting black supremacy.

Ben Carter, later to be known as Ben Ammi Ben-Israel, founded the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem in Chicago in 1966 and moved in 1969 with a group of 30 adherents to Israel. About 600 members have moved after them to Israel where the community in Dimona now counts ca. 2,500 members and reveres Ben-Israel as their "messiah".

Many of them clearly state that they are "Hebrews" or "Israelites" as opposed to traditional Jews. It is unclear up to what extent they follow the New Testament. However they completely deny the authority of the Jewish Oral Law.

Some members of the Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona have converted to Judaism, it is unclear to me what their status is in their strictly closed community after the gijur. The general acceptance of the Hebrew Israelites among the Israeli public has improved and now they even serve in the IDF. However, their Jewish status is clearly denied.

The "Israelite" elements in the H-I religion obviously date back no further than to the times of conversion to Christianity of their ancestors after being transferred to America from western Africa. They cannot prove any pre-existing linguistic, religious or cultural connection to Judaism whatsoever like what you can find in the case of the crypto-Jews' and their descendants.

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