Chicago community leader Prince Asiel Ben Israel of Black Hebrew Israelites dies at 81

A memorial service was held Sept. 2 for Prince Asiel Ben Israel at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Ben Israel was a well-known leader of the Black Hebrew Israelites. He was 81 years old.

According to his family, Ben Israel died on August 21. No cause of death was given.

Prince Asiel Ben Israel was a respected leader of “unity” in the black and Jewish communities.

Black Hebrew Israelites (also called Hebrew Israelites, Black Hebrews, Black Israelites, and African Hebrew Israelites) believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. They incorporate aspects of the religious beliefs and practices of Christianity and Judaism and they have created their own interpretation of the Bible.

Many local residents attended the services, as did U.S. Representative Danny Davis.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also paid tribute to him, saying he had spent his life serving black people.

“He was not sorry for the beauty and greatness of black people. He flatly rejected every story that portrayed any of us as less than the beautiful people that we are, who built this country and built a a legacy of which we and our children, and our children’s children should be proud,” she said.

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Ben Israel, who took many black people from Chicago to live in Israel, spent decades as an international ambassador for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, a group that began in the Great Plains in the 1890s, the Chicago reported. Grandstand. The community mimics the life and practices of Jesus as a Jew, according to Jacob Dorman, author of “Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions.”

Born Warren Brown in 1941, Ben Israel was exposed to the teachings of the Israelites and to African descent. He was given the Hebrew name Prince Asiel (Prince of Blessings) by Ben Ammi Carter, the spiritual leader of the group.

In 1971, Ben Israel moved to Dimona, Israel to join the African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Ben Ammi Ben-Israel of Jerusalem. Back in Chicago, in 1981, Ben Israel and his wife, Yohanna Brown, opened Original Soul Vegetarian, a vegan restaurant on Chicago’s South Side.

Ben Israel has served as Chairman and CEO of Bold Spiritual Initiative, Chairman of Africa Israel Asia, International Spokesperson for Straight Talk Economic Roundtable, Chairman of First Africa Corporation, Sponsor of the Jerusalem Summit Annual Conferences, and Organizer of the National Leadership Council of African Americans. In addition to all of this, Ben Israel has also served with Support-a-Child International, Inc., as a board member of the International United Black Fund, coordinator of the Private Voluntary Organization Project of the African development and director of its international fundraising projects. , as a special economic adviser to the World Conference of Mayors, as an adviser to the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, and as a member of the Chicago African-American Clergy Network, according to Historymakers.

Photo: Prince Asiel Ben Israel, screenshot from YouTube video by Pastor John J. Tatum, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QGS_Yr15dI

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