Ben Ammi Ben-Israel, the founder and leader of the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem died on Saturday aged 75. The causes of his death are yet to be determined.
The group, which has also been known as the Black Hebrews, moved to Israel from the US in the late 1960’s and 1970s and there are some 2,000 African Hebrew Israelites living in Israel, most in the southern towns of Dimona, Arad and Mitzpe Ramon, as well as Tiberias.
Ahmadiel Ben Yehudah, a spokesman for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, said that the community was deeply saddened at the loss of our Holy Father’s physical presence,” but said that they were”emboldened in knowing that his spirit truly lives in each and every one of us.”
“We are as focused and determined as ever to continue to fulfill, maintain and further his vision for all humanity and the Creation. His example and focused commitment to Yah and His people will be an eternal flame in our hearts and a guiding light on our path,” he said.
The movement of African Hebrew Israelites began in the late 19th century in the US, when some groups of African Americans began to identify with the ancient Israelites.
They claim descent from the 12 tribes of the ancient Israelites and state when the Jews of ancient Judea were exiled from their homeland by the Romans in 70CE some of them ended up in West Africa.