On Sunday, June 28th, Rabbi Capers Funnye will have passed the penultimate step to becoming the first Black Chief Rabbi of the twenty-first century. The International Israelite Board of Rabbis will announce at Bnai Adath Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, that Rabbi Funnye successfully completed the vetting process. His nomination was unanimous and he is running unopposed.
This means that Rabbi Funnye will become the titular head of a world-wide community of Black Jews that includes the denomination of Black Jews founded by Rabbi W.A. Matthew in Harlem in 1919, with branches throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Other Black Jews affiliated with this organization include the Lemba of South Africa, the Abayudaya of Uganda, and communities of Black Jews in Nigeria. Rabbi Funnye’s work with Black Jews in the United States and Africa made him uniquely qualified for this position. His goal as Chief Rabbi is to build closer ties with the Ethiopian Jews community that was transplanted to Israel. Rabbi Funnye has made several trips to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pressed for greater acceptance of Black Jews around the world. In addition, Rabbi Funnye happens to be a cousin of Michele Obama and has met several times with President Barak Obama at the White House.
Rabbi Funnye is expected to officially assume his duties as Chief Rabbi in the fall. The formal induction ceremony will take place in Chicago where he is the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom Bnai Zaken E.H. Congregation and the only Black rabbi on the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
News Conference: June 28th at 1:00
Bnai Adath Congregation
1006 Greene Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11221