Video about Rabbi Capers Funnye and Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation

View the video featured on WTTW11, Chicago about Rabbi Funnye and Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Congregation:

On Thursday March 29, 2007, Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken E.H. Congregation was featured on Channel 11’s Chicago Tonight program. The program was a result of a visit to Beth Shalom by Mr. Jay Shefsky a producer at the television station and a member of Lomdim Chavurah. Lomdin is a small group of Jewish families that band together once a month for religious services. During the month of January, several members of Lomdim worshipped at Beth Shalom and we shared a Sabbath meal together after services.

Mr. Shefsky wanted to share the Beth Shalom story with the broader Chicago area, because many Jews and non-Jews alike are unfamiliar with the Black Jewish community in Chicago. Mr. Shefsky and a cinematographer from the station spent the entire Sabbath with the congregation, filming the entire service and interviewing several members of the congregation after the services. Although the televised story on the congregation was only eight minutes long, Mr. Shefsky did a brilliant job of giving an accurate description of the congregation and many of the similarities that Beth Shalom shares with any Jewish congregation.

However, the program also pointed out aspects of the differences between Beth Shalom and the broader Jewish community in Chicago. One different aspect is that at Beth Shalom, our music is a critical part of our service and that at Beth Shalom we incorporate songs and music written by the members of the congregation and songs borrowed from other Israelite congregations from around the country. Another difference between the Black Jewish community and the Ashkenazi community is the fact that many Black Jews use the term Hebrew Israelite, to describe their religious affiliation with Judaism.

It is clear to see from the interviews conducted that Beth Shalom is like any other Jewish community in that there are a range of views among the membership of the congregation. Another important point brought out in the story, is the connection between Beth Shalom and Israelite communities in cities like Philadelphia and New York City. Rabbi Funnye spoke about his education and ordination at the Israelite Academy, located in Queens, New York and his teacher and mentor Chief Rabbi Levi Ben Levy.

The story concludes with coverage of the work that Beth Shalom is doing in Africa, through the Pan African Jewish Alliance and our work with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research based in San Francisco, California. The last point made in the story as stated by Rabbi Funnye, is the strong ties that members of Beth Shalom feels for the State of Israel and giving wholehearted support to Jewish people around the world.


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