Author Topic: Black hebrew israelites in NYC  (Read 345 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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Black hebrew israelites in NYC
« on: January 24, 2019, 10:02:29 am »
of course, some of these fellows were at the viral video event in DC, recently with the parochial school teens and the native american activist(s)..
As a sidebar, on those odd occasions when I see a group of them proselytizing, I never see women members.  This article sheds a little light on that.

Friday, February 11, will be remembered as the historic day Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime came to an end in Egypt.

But that same day, New Yorkers were lined up for a different reason on 34th Street: The new Jordan 6IX Rings sneakers were going on sale at midnight. By 7 p.m., hundreds of black people were lined up outside a Midtown store despite the temperature hovering around 11 degrees. Corralled behind rope lines and shivering on folding chairs, they waited patiently for the chance to plop down $160 and be among the first to own the newest Air Jordans.

From across the street, another black man, swathed in bright colors and not wearing Air Jordans, watched the scene.

“Look at those slaves to the white man!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. When a charter bus deposited dozens more shoppers directly at the entrance of the store, he laughed, yelling, “They’re even bringing Negroes in by the busload!”

A bushy-bearded man who goes by the name “Zodach,” with a small frame and a big voice, he is one of the few members of the ragtag House of Israel, a Black Hebrew Israelite group that is a final holdout of a dying breed: the New York City street-corner prophet. Zodach’s colors were so bright and cartoonish that there was something almost charming about him—if you could ignore the insults he was spewing at everyone passing by.

“Look at those crazy Negroids! They should be over here with us, getting ready for the end-times!” Zodach yelled. “They’re even sitting out in chairs, and it’s cold out here tonight!”

Of course, he, too, was standing outside in the cold night, and there were two female disciples sitting in front of him in folding chairs, freezing, too.

Zodach was eager to preach about the news story of the day. “You saw what they did to your country in Cairo?” he shrieked at anyone with light-brown skin. “That was us, and we’re going to do that to you here, too!”

A group of Indian guys who looked like they could have been frat brothers walked by, alarmed when they realized the prophet was addressing them.

“Huh?” said one, eating a shish kebab.

“Just go on drinking your pork Slurpee, you Egyptian!” Zodach screamed.

“Uh, we’re Indian—and this is chicken,” the man responded.

Pity also the “so-called white man” who slowed down to listen and heard, “After the race war, you’re going to be my slave, picking cotton in my field!” That message is echoed in a flyer that looks like a 200th-generation copy first mimeographed in 1985: “Will so-called white people go to heaven? Yes! In slavery!!!!”

On this corner, in the shadow of the Empire State Building, you could just pull up a chair with a bowl of popcorn and watch a show more entertaining than anything you’d ever see in a comedy club. The House of Israel, shouting within earshot of the tens of thousands of people who pass through this intersection on any given evening, makes for a sticky web. The endless stream of “so-called black” New Yorkers, “so-called Jews,” bewildered Japanese tourists, and born-again Christian teens who pass by are their flies.

The Westboro Church in Topeka, Kansas, comes to town but once a year. This freak show runs several times a week—and it’s free. If you want death-defying thrills and the possibility of bodily injuries, save the $200 Bono will charge to risk Reeve Carney falling on your head, and instead just ask a Black Hebrew Israelite, “Don’t you think Jesus said that God was a God of love?”

General Hashar, leader of the Ambassadors of Christ, another Black Hebrew Israelite “camp,” explains that the war-like dress and titles they use are based on a biblical call to arms, including the omnipresent star, or “shield,” of David on their garments. Hashar, a man with massive shoulders and a large gold grill on his upper row of teeth, leads the way into the basement of a Presbyterian church in Washington Heights north of 200th Street where his sect meets.

It feels neither particularly safe nor dangerous to be visiting the subterranean lair of people you’ve watched yelling the craziest sh*t you’ve ever heard in your life. Descending down the stairs, the smell of incense is almost overwhelming.

“That’s frankincense and myrrh,” says First Captain Chaa-zaq-raw-chaa, a round-faced man with a kind smile that belies his camouflage head wrap. He adds that these aromatics are the same as the gifts presented to baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men.

The antechamber to the Ambassadors’ meeting hall is somewhat nondescript, and could be any community-center rec room. But there are telling details. Small flags of the state of Israel abound (though it is pointed out that they are not meant as a sign of support of the actual state of Israel, occupied by “so-called Jews.”) There’s a cartoon drawing of a Black Hebrew Israelite man decapitating a white man with the words “666” on his forehead. (The victim bears a slight resemblance to Bill Clinton.) The framed image sits atop a refrigerator, next to a package of Cup Noodles.

Chaa-zaq-raw-chaa and Hashar lead the way past a solid metal door into their inner sanctum. The room is tricked out with African-looking depictions of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, along with posters in Hebrew that bear phrases from Deuteronomy 4 (“Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God”) and the Talmud (“Know before whom you stand”). At the front of the room is a large table with a menorah. Armed with stacks of books, the priests take their place behind the makeshift altar, like sages about to dispense advice. They begin to record the proceedings with an old-school analog tape deck.

Chaa-zaq-raw-chaa and Hashar are soon joined by Tazadaq-khan, a very tall and thin man dressed in what look like carpenter’s clothes. He disappears behind a curtain to don his black robes and warrior garb before joining the other two at the table. They describe being part of a movement that spans the five boroughs, several states, and multiple prisons.

The three men attempt to reveal as little about themselves as they possibly can. “We are the Ambassadors of Christ,” Hashar the self-described Jew reiterates, saying that anything they say about themselves personally will detract from their mission. They will not give their real names, nor do they even want to say what type of work they do.

But they do let a few personal details slip. Tazadaq-khan says that although “a lot of people think Black Hebrew Israelites are a bunch of unemployed ‘so-called blacks’ and ‘so-called Hispanics,’ we all work.”

“We have jobs,” says Hashar with a broad smile, “or, should I say, we’re slaves, working for our scraps on the plantation.” Hashar was in the military before the first Gulf War—”I plead the Fifth,” he says when asked what branch—which gave him an insight into the military and the ways of the United States that “only a veteran” could ever possess, he says.

Chaa-zaq-raw-chaa says that people at his job “know I’m a Jew.” Asked if co-workers had ever seen him in action on the street, he seemed confident that he could never be discriminated against at work for his religion.

Like most Black Hebrew Israelites who spoke to the Voice, these men grew up in Brooklyn, mostly in East New York. All came from what sounded like extremely religious Christian households—Jehovah’s Witnesses at home, or Catholics at parochial school. They each painted a picture of growing up in a neighborhood with little hope for acceptance, except maybe in a gang.

Each of them found Black Hebrew Israelites either through hearing them preaching on the street or watching a cable-access show one camp used to put on. When asked what religious moment in their own journey most stood out in their memory, Chaa-zaq-raw-chaa said it was when, in Times Square, a white man got down on his knees to kiss his boots, just as the Scriptures had preordained would happen before the end-times. (He offered no photographic evidence of the incident.)

The three spent a large amount of time talking about avoiding pork and shellfish and criticizing people who don’t follow the healthy diet God laid out in the Bible. (However, one did prepare and eat the Cup Noodles soon afterward.)

If the three priests were secretive about their lives, Yahana, a 38-year-old man, was more forthcoming. Yahana, who is unemployed, says he isn’t a member of any particular camp, but is spending time with various Black Hebrew Israelites while he travels. He soon plans to head out on a journey around the country, learning from camps in other states before answering a personal call to start his own in Pennsylvania.

Yahana says his newly found religion offers him spiritual clarity, but his personal life is in crisis. He has dabbled in Catholicism, he has been a Jehovah’s Witness, and he has even been an atheist. He did time for dealing drugs as a young man. He hasn’t seen his wife in 10 years, but hasn’t divorced her. He’s staying with another woman who is the mother of his 10- and 12-year-old daughters, and after his year of travels, he plans to move in with a longtime girlfriend and her son.

His relationship with women, he admits, is complicated. “We believe that when you lay down with a woman, you have to ‘do business with her,’ ” Yahana says. “A man has needs,” he says, and Black Hebrew Israelites “believe that a man needs sex not just for procreation, but for pleasure.” Still, he “doesn’t want to do business with just any woman. I don’t want to be with an unclean woman. I want her to at least have some morals if I’m going to lay down with her.”

Black Hebrew Israelites regularly scream “bitch” and “whore” at women on the street. One ex-girlfriend of a Black Hebrew Israelite told the Voice that “these guys just want to move in with women and eat their food and live rent-free.” Yahana says the Bible teaches that “all you need is food in your mouth, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head.” Still, he seems to think that having these three things, while also being able to pay his cell phone bill, is a sign of divine providence and not due to the generosity of the women in his life.

Yahana describes his close relationship with his daughters. When asked how they feel about his upcoming voyage, he says, “My younger daughter doesn’t understand. My older daughter—we’re close—she doesn’t want me to go. But she understands I have to do what I have to do. Plus, I’m not abandoning her. I’ll still call her and keep in touch. I’ll still be her dad.”
Be Kind to Someone Today.