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‘I don’t know them’: For Israelite chief rabbi, a ‘mess’ of Kanye and Kyrie’s making
Rabbi Capers Funnye, 70, heads the International Israelite Board of Rabbis, which has meant he has been asked to explain, again and again, that his movement has nothing to do with the antisemites it’s regularly lumped in with. The movement, founded in 1919 and called the Commandment Keepers, holds that African Americans were descended from the Israelites of the Torah, an idea alluded to by the rapper Kanye West and NBA star Kyrie Irving amid antisemitic comments in recent weeks.
Funnye, who leads a 200-family synagogue that he describes as “Conservadox,” is accepted by local Jewish organizations and sits on the Chicago Board of Rabbis. Our Louis Keene spoke with him about race, antisemitism, brit milah and more.
On Kanye saying all Blacks are Jews: “I don’t know what the hell that means. I don’t know what group he’s a part of, I don’t know what group he identifies with. For me, all he’s doing is making a mess.”
On the ADL engaging with Kyrie: “The optics would be much better if members of our community were present with you. You’re not the only Jews. Some Jews are white, but not all.”
Read the interview ➤
From the archives: A profile of Rabbi Funnye and the movement when he took over as chief rabbi in 2016.
Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack Wednesday morning in Jerusalem. (Getty)
Two bombs rocked bus stops at crowded entrances to Jerusalem early Wednesday morning, killing a 16-year-old yeshiva student named Aryeh Schupak, and sending about 20 people to the hospital, some in serious condition. It was the first time in years that terrorists used bombs in a deadly assault against Israelis. Schupak’s funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Jerusalem. Read the story ➤
“The vast majority of the terror attacks in recent years did not occur in the western part of the city, they did not make use of explosive devices and they were not especially sophisticated,” notes Haaretz writer Nir Hasson. “This morning’s attacks broke all those rules.” He wonders: “Are we at the start of a new wave?” Read his essay ➤ and sign up here to get Haaretz’s daily newsletter delivered to your inbox.
An American attempts to celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel: Hillel Kuttler moved from Baltimore to Nahariya years ago, but he still hasn’t gotten used to the awkwardness of November. “A whole turkey?” the supermarket clerk asks, as if he’d inquired about buying a whole sheep or cow. It’s not like Israelis don’t eat turkey: it’s the second-most-consumed meat or poultry. So why the pushback? Is it the small ovens? Latent resentment of the U.S.? Kutler went in search of answers. Read his essay ➤
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene lamented being called antisemitic in an hourlong video after being reinstated on Twitter. She also referred to Dr. Rachel Levine, who last year became the highest-ranking openly transgender administration official, as a “man who is mentally ill, pretending he’s a woman.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two bills Tuesday aimed at preventing hate crimes, following Saturday’s massacre an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado and thwarted threat against a New York City synagogue.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who turns 72 today, spoke Tuesday of his family’s emigration from Eastern Europe in the 1890s and struggle to succeed in the United States. “We persisted,” Schumer said, crediting his use of Yiddish words in advertising with helping him win reelection to a fifth term this month.
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Ryan Turell signs a fan’s yarmulke after his team’s 117-105 loss to the Wisconsin Herd last week. (Andrew Lapin/JTA)
🏀 Andrew Lapin of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency traveled to Detroit to watch Ryan Turell, the Orthodox sensation playing in the NBA minor league. What he found was an arena filled with yarmulke-wearing superfans shouting “Put in Ryan!” After the game, Turell signed autographs and, of course, yarmulkes. (JTA)
🙏 Ohio lawmakers are proposing stiffer penalties for people who “Zoom-bomb” religious services. One of the proponents of the bill, called the Sacred Spaces Act is a Cincinnati rabbi who said that funerals streamed online are sometimes disrupted “with things like Nazi symbolism, pornography and racial slurs.” (Ohio Capital Journal)
🕍 Known as “The Little Shul,” it was built in 1919 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Its last full-time rabbi died in 1950, and since then volunteers have run services. After decades of decline, the remaining congregants have made a decision: it’s time to close down. (Jewish Journal of Boston)
✝️ Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is being urged to step away from a gay rights case because of her past role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called People of Praise. The people doing the urging? Ex-members of the group who call themselves “survivors.” (The Guardian)
🤔 A new study found that religion and spirituality can benefit 13–25-year-olds experiencing mental health issues – though the research said the same things can contribute to some young people’s psychological challenges. (Religion News Service)
⚽ There’s no beer at the World Cup in Qatar, but there are kosher bagels, thanks to two enterprising rabbis. The kitchen offering the bagels is set to be operational for the 30 days of the tournament, and may expand its menu if there’s consumer demand. (JTA)
🍽️ Michael Solomonov, the James Beard Award-winning chef, has opened yet another Israeli restaurant. Called K’far, Hebrew for village, it is located in the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If that building sounds familiar, it’s because Solomonov’s acclaimed Laser Wolf restaurant is on its rooftop. (Eater)
🎬 Harrison Ford will fight Nazis again in the forthcoming “Indiana Jones” sequel, due out in 2023. In previous installments, Nazis’ faces melted off after they pried open the Ark of the Covenant, and another Nazi crumbled to dust after he tried to drink from the Holy Grail. (JTA)
What else we’re reading ➤ Here’s what it was like to be on the first flight from Israel to Qatar … Trump’s Twitter return sparks concern among faith groups … ‘After School Satan Club’ at California elementary school stirs controversy.
On this day in history (1963): The first episode of “Doctor Who” aired on the BBC. The show’s creator, Sydney Newman, was the Canadian-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. At the time, he was new to his position as head of drama at the BBC, and was tasked with creating the show to fill a slot between children’s and adult programming. The series has been a hit since, airing more than 871 episodes and still running.
On the Hebrew calendar, it’s the 29th of Cheshvan, the yahrtzeit of Yisrael Bak, a pioneer of modern bookbinding in Israel, who died in 1874.
Last year on this day, a rare 54-page manuscript with Albert Einstein’s early scribblings on the general theory of relativity sold for $11.4 million at an auction house in Paris. It was the largest amount ever paid for a piece of Einstein memorabilia.
In honor of National Eat a Cranberry Day, check out this recipe for pumpkin cranberry challah for Thanksgiving.
It may be pumpkin spice latte and sweater season where you are, but in the Israeli city of Hadera on Tuesday, you’d think it was summer. Dozens of sandbar and dusky sharks huddled off the coast of northern Israel, where the Mediterranean is about 10 degrees warmer than other areas thanks to the hot water gushing from the turbines at the Orot Rabin power plant. Researchers spot the sharks every year there. And, yes, that’s a couple swimming next to a shark in the above photo.
Thanks to Lauren Markoe, Sarah Nachimson and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].