Black Hebrew Israelites (also Black Hebrews, African Hebrew Israelites, and Hebrew Israelites) are groups of people mostly of Black African ancestry situated mainly in the United States who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism. They are generally not accepted as Jews by the greater Jewish community, and many Black Hebrews consider themselves—and not mainstream Jews—to be the only authentic descendants of the ancient Israelites. Many choose to self-identify as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than as Jews.
Dozens of Black Hebrew groups were founded during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. In the mid-1980s, the number of Black Hebrews in the United States was between 25,000 and 40,000. In the 1990s, the Alliance of Black Jews estimated that there were 200,000 African-American Jews, this estimate was based on a 1990 survey conducted by the Council of Jewish Federations and was mostly used to ascertain the number of african-americans who practiced mainstream judaism. The exact number of Black Hebrews within that surveyed group remains unspecified.
Famous quotes containing the words black and/or hebrews:
“I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize me senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant
A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality.”
—Sylvia Plath (19321963)
“As for the sacred Scriptures, or Bibles of mankind, who in this town can tell me even their titles? Most men do not know that any nation but the Hebrews have had a scripture.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)