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Sholomo B. Levy

rabbi, black nationalist, and emigrationist, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth Augusta Braithwaite. Ford asserted that his father's ancestry could be traced to the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria and his mother's to the Mendi tribe of Sierra Leone. According to his family's oral history, their heritage extended back to one of the priestly families of the ancient Israelites, and in Barbados his family maintained customs and traditions that identified them with Judaism (Kobre, 27). His father was a policeman who also had a reputation as a “fiery preacher” at the Wesleyan Methodist Church where Arnold was baptized; it is not known if Edward's teaching espoused traditional Methodist beliefs or if it urged the embrace of Judaism that his son would later advocate.

Ford s parents intended for him to become a musician They provided him with private tutors who instructed ...

Article

Donna L. Halper

rabbi, educator, and one of America's best-known black Jews, was born Capers Charles Funnye Jr., in Georgetown, South Carolina, to Charles Funnye Sr. and Verdelle (Robinson), native South Carolinians. Raised in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Funnye (pronounced fah-NAY) nearly attended the seminary to become a minister. He grew up on Chicago's South Side, where his parents had moved when he was a child, and he saw the effects of segregation firsthand. After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated he wanted to do something to change society and fight racism In his senior year in high school a pastor he respected suggested that he would make a good minister and for a time he seriously considered it But he had been having doubts about Christianity and embarked on a search for the right spiritual path Ultimately he encountered members of a sect called the ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

rabbi and educator, was born Lawrence Albert McKethan, to West McKethan and Lilly (Blue) McKethan, farmers in Cumberland County, North Carolina. The future rabbi traced his ancestry back to Chattie Blue, a slave who came with the Hodges family from England to North Carolina in the nineteenth century. She obtained her freedom and gave birth to six children, including his fraternal grandmother, Lucy Blue, who was a revered midwife to black and white women in the county. Lucy married a man named Duncan McKethan and gave birth to eight children including one named West. After the death of his first wife, Flora, West married Lilly, a woman of Cherokee ancestry. They had fourteen children, including Levy.

Levy grew up on a small farm with eighteen older siblings and one younger sibling He was a bright adventurous child who taught himself to sing and play the ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

rabbi and educator, is believed to have been born in St. Mary's, St. Kitts, in the British West Indies, the son of Joseph Matthew and Frances M. Cornelius. Matthew gave seemingly contradictory accounts of his ancestry that put his place of birth in such places as Ethiopia, Ghana, and Lagos, Nigeria. Some of those lingering discrepancies were partially clarified when Matthew explained that his father, a cobbler from Lagos, was the son of an Ethiopian Jew, a cantor who sang traditional Jewish liturgies near the ancient Ethiopian capital of Gondar. Matthew's father then married a Christian woman in Lagos, and they gave their son, Wentworth, the Hebrew name Yoseh ben Moshe ben Yehuda, also given as Moshe Ben David. His father died when he was a small boy, and his mother took him to live in St. Kitts, where she had relatives.

In 1913 ...

Article

Camille A. Collins

rabbi, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, into a Pentecostal family and spent her early years in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. On 6 June 2009 she was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, and became the first African American woman to become a rabbi in either of the primary mainstream branches of Judaism (Reform and Conservative) most prevalent in the United States.

Stanton was six when her family moved to Cleveland Heights, and from an early age she was intrigued by spiritual matters. As a young child she asked her uncle Edward, a Catholic who sometimes attended services at a local synagogue, about the purpose of the mezuzot parchment scrolls with inscriptions from the Torah hanging from the front doors of many homes in the neighborhood This same uncle also presented her with her first Hebrew grammar book Although she grew up attending Pentecostal ...