Groups‎ > ‎

Hebrew Israelites

Spiritual leader of African Hebrew Israelites dies

According to spokeswoman Yafa Baht Gavriel, the spiritual leader of the polygamous vegan African Hebrew Israelites, Ben Ammi Ben-Israel, has died in the southern Israeli town where he brought his followers four decades ago. Born Ben Carter in Chicago, Ben Ammi was 75.

Ben Ammi maintained that some black Americans were descendants of the biblical tribe of Judah. He said they migrated to West Africa after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and were eventually sold as slaves to the United States. Baht Gavriel said that, following his vision in 1966 that the angel Gabriel told him to “return to the holy land by way in which we came,” Ben Ammi gathered and led his few hundred followers, mainly from Chicago, to Liberia and later (1969) Israel.

Many of the group entered Israel as tourists and were in the country illegally until the interior ministry granted them residency status in 2003. Living mostly in Dimona, they established businesses in crafts and tailoring, formed a respected choir, started a factory producing tofu ice cream, and set up several vegan restaurants. Members dress in colorful, self-made clothes, practice polygamy, shun birth control and refrain from eating meat, dairy products, eggs, and sugar. The group also has thousands more members in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. (The Guardian, 12/28/14) [IT 6.2 2015]


IiZacharyah ben Ya’aqov, head of The Truth After Knowledge, one of a number of Hebrew Israelite groups in large American cities, describes the activities of the more radical branches of the movement as “evangelical terrorizing.” He says leaders in these violently anti-white groups brainwash new recruits and employ “fear tactics to break you down.” [csr 7.3 2008)

Offer to Give Up Polygamy for Integration
The Hebrew Israelites, who live communally in a number of large families in Dimona, Israel, are offering to give up polygamy in return for permanent resident status and the benefits which that would confer on these 1970s black immigrants from the U.S. [csr 1.3 2002]

Police intelligence says that Hebrew Israelite leader Ben Ami Carter is “absolute ruler” of the community. Members consider him the Messiah, and bow down to him, and he is entitled not only to join them in marriage, but to excommunicate them. Members, according to the reports, refuse to be counted in the census, and the numbers of births and deaths are not known to authorities. The report notes that in a conjectured new agreement on the status of the group, the state would recognize the plural marriages that exist but refuse to register additional marriages in the future. (Daniel Ben Simon, Ha’arez, English edition, Internet, 8/23/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Hebrew Israelites Buries Its First Victim of Mideast Violence
The Hebrew Israelites, African-Americans from Chicago who believe they are the true descendants of the biblical tribe of Judah, have buried their first victim of the Mideast violence. Aharon Bn-Ellis 32, who was working as a singer at the party, was shot dead when a Palestinian gunman charged into a Jewish coming-of-age party and opened fire, killing six and wounding dozens. The funeral ceremony, led by five priests dressed in white and sky blue tunics with white crocheted skullcaps, featured a mix of Hebrew psalms and popular music. Although Israel does not accept the polygamous group as Jewish, mourners included the chief rabbi of Dimona, where the group is settled, the mayor, a representative of the Israeli government, and a representative of the U.S. ambassador. One of the priests prayed that the government would accept the Hebrew Israelites, who were granted residency in 1990, 21 years after they first settled, but not citizenship. The community has grown from its original 39 followers of Chicago bus driver Ben Ami to more than 2,000. (AP, 1/20/02, Internet)