Chafets loves digging in the fertile area of Jewish unease. He wrote about Jews and evangelicals A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance.
In this weeks NY Times Mag he writes about a curious Rabbi who is part Hebrew Israelite, Part Conservative Rabbi, and full of contradictions. And he claims that he is President Obama’s Rabbi, because he is cousin to First Lady Michelle.
During a summer job in Chicago, some friends introduced [Rabbi] Funnye to Rabbi Robert Devine, the spiritual leader of the House of Israel Congregation. Devine preached that Africans were the true descendants of the biblical Hebrews, and that Jesus, the Messiah, was a black man. The message appealed to Funnye. Devine baptized him in a public swimming pool, and Funnye entered the complicated world of black American Jewry.
But something about his being totally an outsider, and unaccepted by the Jewish community, led him to a Conservative Conversion. Julie Fax wrote about him in the Jewish Journal in LA last year. He has become a national figure, blurring the lines between the Conservative movement, and esoteric Black Hebrew congregations.
I would love to write more, but Pesach is coming. Its worth a read.