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African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem

Not to be confused with Beta Israel, Jews from Ethiopia.

The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (also known as The Black Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, Black Hebrew Israelites, or simply Black Hebrews or Black Israelites) is a small spiritual group whose members believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. With a population of over 5,000, most members live in their own community in Dimona, Israel. Their immigrant ancestors were African Americans, many from Chicago, Illinois, who migrated to Israel in the late 1960s.

Some of them consider themselves to be Jewish but when they began to emigrate to Israel, the religious officials and the state did not and they were asked to convert.[1] In 2003, the remainder of the existing community (those who did not receive residency permits earlier) were granted official Israeli permanent residency and citizenship later on to a lesser degree. Since 2004, members of the community (both men and women) have served as soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, and since 2009 members of the community have begun to be granted Israeli citizenship on a larger scale.

The group was founded in Chicago by a former steel worker named Ben Carter (1939-2014). In his early twenties Carter was given the name Ben Ammi by Rabbi Reuben of the Chicago Congregation of Ethiopian Hebrews.[2] Ben Ammi claims that in 1966 he had a "vision," in which the Archangel Gabriel [3] called him to take his people, African Americans, back to the Holy Land of Israel.[4]

Ammi and his followers draw on a long tradition in black American culture which holds that black Americans are the descendants of the Ancient Israelites (Ammi cites Charles Harrison Mason of Mississippi, William Saunders Crowdy of Virginia, Bishop William Boome of Tennessee, Charles Price Jones of Mississippi, and Elder Saint Samuel of Tennessee as early exponents of black descent from Israelites).[5]

They are influenced by the teachings of the Jamaican proponent of Black nationalism, Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), and by

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