Thursday, October 27, 2022

Are we really Jews (Jewish): The Legacy of Crypto Jews, Beta Israel, Judaism, and Kanye West in the 21st Century


Are we really Jews (Jewish): The Legacy of Crypto Jews, Beta Israel, Judaism, and Kanye West in the 21st Century

October 27, 2022, Washington, D.C.

a photo essay by Yahashua Bin IsraEL (Formerly known as Quinn R. Foster)

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After discovering and learning that my great grandfather was a “Crypto-Jew” I began to research the term “Jew”. A “crypto-jew” means a secret Jew, or one that practices their Judaic faith in secret- largely due to the tortures and murders of the Spanish inquisition after the fall of the Moorish Empire in Spain/ Al Andalus. For approximately three years (2018- 2021) I asked pastors, a student rabbi, and studied men and women if they could help me find the term “Jew” in the Torah (the Bible “Old Testament”) specifically in the Hebrew. What I discovered was extremely surprising and informative. In this brief essay, I will share what I discovered about the term “Jew”, some of the history surrounding the term, some of the sources of my discovery, and the conclusion I arrived at. The term “Jew” is largely (for lack of a better term) a “nickname” for the Tribe of Judah, and Judah is the member of the 12 tribes of Israel who was prophesied to be the one that would hold onto rulership over time.


ח  יְהוּדָה, אַתָּה יוֹדוּךָ אַחֶיךָ--יָדְךָ, בְּעֹרֶף אֹיְבֶיךָ; יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְךָ, בְּנֵי אָבִיךָ.

8 Judah, thee shall thy brethren praise; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; thy father's sons shall bow down before thee.

ט  גּוּר אַרְיֵה יְהוּדָה, מִטֶּרֶף בְּנִי עָלִיתָ; כָּרַע רָבַץ כְּאַרְיֵה וּכְלָבִיא, מִי יְקִימֶנּוּ.

9 Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?

י  לֹא-יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה, וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו, עַד כִּי-יָבֹא שִׁילֹה, וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים.

10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, as long as men come to Shiloh; and unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.


Genesis 49

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Description automatically generatedTo begin, my great grandfather was named Benjamin at birth (around 1804), but his name was later changed to John (hint hint). We do not know the date of his birth because his mother, who was known as Fannie Riedoubt, was enslaved in what is today, West Virginia. She was born a free woman but was kidnapped in Maryland at the age of 15 and was enslaved. As a bold and courageous woman, she ran for her freedom not once but twice. On her second attempt she carried my great grandfather in her arms and was successful. This story is documented in the library of congress, in the New York Times, and numerous other archives.

Grandaddy Benjamin (which is a name of one of the “12 Tribe of Israel”) is now commonly known today as John Jamison (J.J.) Moore, the 15th consecrated Bishop of the AME Zion Church. After his transition from this life, his offspring continued in the work of the clergy, including my great grandfather Rev. Dr Isaiah Henri Harrison Moore, my grandmother’s father. Rev. Dr Moore studied and spoke Hebrew well according to his great grandchildren and taught us that we are “Israel”.

Going back to grandaddy Benjamin, the name Benjamin was given to other children in the family (hint hint). According to our family history, largely shared by my 87-year-old cousin Peggy Arthur in Louisville, Kentucky, grandaddy Benjamin’s Mother was a “Portuguese Black” born in Haiti. Her father was a ship captain/ boatman/ navigator. Her family came to the Caribbean islands by way on Rabat Morocco, after being evicted from Portugal and Spain.

If you do a little study (as I have) one will discover that the term “Portuguese Black” was synonymous with “Portuguese Jew”. This history goes back to Portugal during and before the rule of Moorish Spain/ Al Andalus by the Moors. While many have heard of the Holocaust that took place in Germany, less people have heard about the Holocaust that took place in Spain and Portugal, where tens of thousands of “Jewish” people were brutally murdered by Christians.

If you study a little further, you will discover that there are two communities of what is commonly called “Jewish people”. There are “Jews” of German descent, called Ashkenazi and those of Sephardic descent known as Sephardic. They both are practitioners of “Judaism”, yet they have different cultural and historic differences and practices. Additionally, in America there is a unique relationship between the two. Some may describe the relationship as one dominant over the other, or one discriminatory of the other. German Jews speak a type of Hebrew called Yiddish, that mixes German and Hebrew, while Sephardic Jews speak a type of Hebrew that includes Spanish and Arabic words, called Ladino.

The rule of Spain and other areas of Europe by the Moors lasted from approximately 711- 1491. This time period is considered as the “golden age of Judaism”.  Al Andalus/ Moorish Spain had religious freedom (although “Jews” paid a tax). “Jews” were great helpers in running the Islamic governments and had their own areas of living called “Mellahs”; which some refer to as “Jewish Quarters”. These were not “ghettos” by any regard, as were those in Germany. During this time, Hebrew schools and academies flourished and produced great scholarship! It is also said that “Jews” opened the door, so to speak, for the Moors to come in and invade Europe. They were unhappy with the rulership of the Europeans of the time.

Alhambra - Wikipedia

(The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in GranadaAndalusiaSpain. It is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world. There is evidence to suggest that it was originally a palatial residence of a Jewish viziers of the Zirid dynasty (1013-1090). Although there may have been a small fortification on the Sabika hill as early as 889, it was not until the early eleventh century that a Jewish vizier named Samuel ibn Naghrillah, or Samuel HaNagid (d. 1056), constructed a fortress on the hill and made it his residence.)

Before the Moors came into Spain, archeology teaches that “Jews” were in Spain as far back as the reign of King Solomon (and possibly earlier), who was the King of Israel. King Solomon, according to my research never referred to himself or his people as being “Jewish or as Jews”.


Kings-1 1:30

Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.

1 Kings 4:1

So King Solomon ruled over all Israel.


Today, there are Ethiopians that reside in the (Nation) State of Israel that came from Ethiopia. They have not, in the past, self-identified as “Jews” but rather as- “Beta Israel”, meaning the “House of Israel”. There are others in the State of Israel that have been under leadership of Ben Ammi Israel (an “African American”) that do not identify specifically as “Jewish” or as “Jews”. Both groups in the State of Israel have suffered (according to many news reports) discrimination and even sterilization by doctors.

Now coming closer to present time, one of the greatest of all Kings was and is Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (a nation in Africa) who lays claim to being a descendant of Solomon and from the tribe of Judah. Ethiopia is in Africa, where the melanated dark-skinned people of the earth reside, and some say all humans originate from. Despite the Emperors claim to being a descendant of King Solomon, Haile Selassie I espoused the religion of Christianity, but yet and still lays claims to be of the tribe of Judah.


Song of Solomon 1:5

 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon


Now with all of that said, in my discovery of my own heritage, from the enslavement of my ancestors to current day I found a strong internal desire to not only study what I term as the “Judaic sciences”, but additionally I attempted to search out the term “Jew” in the Hebrew. I consulted with Christian pastors within my familial circle and questioned them about the term. Knowing that they attended seminary schools, I figured they would best understand my questioning.

I also questioned one Moorish American who may identify as a “Jew”, “Jewish”, or as a “Moorish Jew”. From my conversations I found that the actual term “Jew” was not readily found in the Hebrew, but that in the biblical story a man named Jacob had his name changed to Israel by an angel. 

After asking my questions to the studied persons, I was surprised to be met with a series of- “uhhh”, “well”, and other pausitory type words that led me to believe that my questioning was legitimate.

Genesis 32:28


The man said, “From now on, your name will no longer be Jacob. You will be called Israel, because you have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won.”



וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לֹ֤א יַעֲקֹב֙ יֵאָמֵ֥ר עוֹד֙ שִׁמְךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים וְעִם־אֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַתּוּכָֽל׃


Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven


(*striven Heb. saritha, connected with first part of “Israel.” with beings divine and human,*beings divine and human Or “God (Elohim, connected with second part of ‘Israel’) and human beings.” )


and have prevailed.”




After enough questioning of others, I came to a personal conclusion. My conclusion was and is that the term “Jewish” is a nick name for “Judah”. I explain it like this. Think of a young man name Anthony Jr. Washington, who is the son of Anthony Senior Washington. Anthony Junior is called “AJ” by his parents.  At his baseball practice his teammates and coaches call him ‘Washington”. When Anthony Jr. Washington travelled to Mexico, he met a nice young lady that called him “Antonio”.

Anthony Jr. Washington may be called different names by different people who know him from different “walks of life”. However, if we were to inquire the legal name of this individual as if he were a man “wanted” by the highest authorities in the land, he would be referred to as Anthony Jr. Washington, son of Anthony Washington Senior. His birth certificate and legal documents would indicate the same.

This is the way that I personally see the descendants or children of “Israel”. The nation known as the State of Israel is not known as the state of Jews, although it is “said” that Jews or Jewish people live there and make that their ancestral home. 

Sholomo LevyI am not conclusive as to when the term “Jew” was first used, but I know that Jesus was called a Jew, but yet he never called himself or his family Jewish, according to my study. “Jewish” is what others called him. It is similar in Christianity. Jesus never said that anyone should be a Christian. Christian is what others called a group of Jesus’s followers.

After arriving at my own conclusion about the term “Jew”, I listened to a lecture by one of my favorite Rabbis and heard something that provided me with more understanding. Rabbi Sholomo Ben Levy is a Rabbi in New York, and was born in Queens, New York, in 1964. He is the eldest son of Deborah Levy and the late Chief Rabbi Levi Ben Levy. Rebbi Levy shared in a lecture that in the Book of Esther, a man named Mordechai was called a Jew (again by others). Mordechai was called a Jew by others in the book of Esther, but yet again, he did not call himself this. This was in context of a lecture about a festival called Purim.

In my conclusion, I must say that there are a great multitude of challenges that face “Black America”, one of which is racism in religion. The history of my own family teaches me that “Black Christians” left the Christian church and started their own church, such as the AME Zion Church. My own experience has taught me that there is a great deal of racism and or colorism in Islam and those that prescribe to its tenets. Judaism is no different from where I sit.

In addition to those said challenges, one of the great challenges to and of descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States is that of “self-identification”. We have been labeled, branded, and given names by our open oppressors and enemies. Names such as nigger, Negro, colored, coon, shine, and others have been given to us, and unfortunately, we have accepted them as our way of self-identification. Not having the connection to our own history, heritage, culture, land, or God has been one of our greatest challenges, from my perspective.

This is a part of the reason as to why I felt it so necessary to track down the term “Jew”. If this is my own history and that of my family, I would prefer to have the proper name to be identified with. Therefore, I do identify as “a Hebrew”, meaning one whose original language was of Hebrew or Hebrew descent. I do identify as a member of the “house of Israel”. If I had to help one better understand that I am descendant from what people call “Jews”, I think it would be best said that I am a “Moorish Jew” or a “Portuguese Jew”.

Photo by James Van Der Zee. Birmingham Museum of Art.


Some people say that we, “Blacks in America” are the “real Jews”, “true Jews”, the “real children of Israel” or the “original Jews”. While I understand what they are attempting to say in contemporary terms, yet and still it doesn’t seem absolutely correct to me according to the Torah and our divine connection to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who had his name changed to Israel).  


Genesis 15: 13-16

13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 

15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age



Lastly, this essay is not perfect. I have intentionally not shared all my references or the people I dialogued with. In the recent days, there has been a barrage of news articles and information circulating about “Blacks in America” and “Jewish” people due to comments made by a musician and businessman, Kanye West. I have had the desire to write this essay for some time but had not taken the time to do so. A subject such as this deserves better than what I have given it, however I felt it to be timely due to current circumstances.

There may be much room for debate, dialogue, agreement, and disagreement of what I have written and expressed. By the divine guidance of almighty God Allah I have shared my truth. I am open to further guidance on the subject by those who are subject matter experts. While many others may and will have much to say about this photo essay, I will only take seriously those of scholarship. My family history is what it is. I am thankful and proud of it, and I am grateful to what Allah has guided me to say and do in this regard.


Exodus 20:12 

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 5:16 

“‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.



Relevant Readings

From Babylon to Timbuktu by Rudolph Windsor

Black Judaism by James E. Landing

The Black Jews of Harlem by Howard M. Brotz

Black Zion edited by Yvonne Chireau and Nathaniel Deutsch

Chosen People by Jacob S. Dorman









Additional Articles of Interest

Early 1920s newspaper ads for the blockbuster New York Yiddish stage shows Dos Khupe Kleyd (The Wedding Dress) and Yente Telebende (Loquacious Battle‐Ax), featured a Black artist among the spotlighted performers. This was Thomas LaRue, a Yiddish-speaking singer widely known in the interwar period as der schvartzer khazan (The Black Cantor).

A black and white photo of a person in a suit and tie

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceAlthough long-forgotten now, LaRue (who sometimes used the surname Jones) was among the favorites of Yiddish theater and cantorial music. Reportedly raised in Newark, New Jersey, by a single mother who was drawn to Judaism, he even drew interest from beyond the US.

LaRue was booked for more than one European tour in the 1930s, but audiences and critics in Jewish communities in Poland and Germany were somewhat more skeptical than the Americans. Although many were impressed with The Black Cantor — who sometimes added the Yiddish first name Toyve to his billing — others doubted his Jewish bona fides. One Warsaw newspaper published a cartoon of a Black man dressed as a cantor with an upside down prayer book on the podium in front of him, insinuating that LaRue was a scam.


But LaRue was the real thing, according to musicologist Henry Sapoznik, who recently spoke with The Times of Israel about the little-known history of Black cantors. Sapoznik related that LaRue was hardly the only Black cantor or Yiddish theater performers of that era. There were at least a dozen, including one woman.


‘The greatest wonder in the world/The famous Black cantor who has astounded all America in a concert of folk songs of Rosenblatt, Kwartin, Rovner and others in all languages/Toyve the Black Cantor.’ (Courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research)

But LaRue was the real thing, according to musicologist Henry Sapoznik, who recently spoke with The Times of Israel about the little-known history of Black cantors. Sapoznik related that LaRue was hardly the only Black cantor or Yiddish theater performers of that era. There were at least a dozen, including one woman.


‘The greatest wonder in the world/The famous Black cantor who has astounded all America in a concert of folk songs of Rosenblatt, Kwartin, Rovner and others in all languages/Toyve the Black Cantor.’ (Courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research)

The proof of LaRue’s cantorial and Yiddish singing chops rests with what can be heard on a recently rediscovered 78 RPM record that he made in 1923. So far, it is the only known early 20th century recording of an African-American singing cantorial music.



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Description automatically generatedGoldye the Black Woman Cantor (Jewish Criterion Vol 65 No. 17 March 6, 1925 p. 31 via
















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Congregation Beth B’nai Abraham, Harlem, 1929. (James Van Der Zee via


Tags: Kanye West, Jew, Jewish, Judaic, real jews, African American, Hebrew, torah, Rabbi, Sholomo Levy, Arnold Ford, Cantor, Moorish Jews, Moors, Ethiopia, Beta Israel, Emperor King Haile Selassie, King Solomon, Portuguese Jews, Alhambra, AME Zion Church, Moorish Spain, Al Andalus, crypto jew, From Babylon to Timbuktu, by Rudolph Windsor, Black Judaism, James E. Landing, The Black Jews of Harlem by Howard M. Brotz, Black Zion, Yvonne Chireau. Nathaniel Deutsch, Chosen People, Jacob S. Dorman, synagogue, temple, Jerusalem, state of Israel

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Pacific Appeal, Volume I, Number 1, 5 April 1862; Recommends the The Lunar Visitor to readers

"We enter the field of journalism as the co-adjutor of the Lunar Visitor. There is sufficient room for us both to occupy successfully. The Visitor is a monthly periodical, or more properly speaking, a Magazine, which position we hope it will soon acquire, as we need a representative here in the higher walks of periodical literature, and Mr. Moore is better calculated than ourselves to conduct a publication of that kind.

Ours is emphatically a newspaper—a journal of general information—making no pretensions higher than that. The Visitor should be, (and we know Mr. Moore is capable of making it so,) didactic, ethical, and reasoning. We will be perceptive, sententious and argumentative ; the sphere of each will be in a different direction, and there is space, and we hope patronage enough for both. 

We recommend The Lunar Visitor to our readers as an instructive, useful and well conducted paper, and it is well worthy support. . The Visitor is published monthly by Rev. John J. Moore, No. 321, Union st."


University of California Riverside

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

, which looks into the writings of Prophet Noble Drew Ali