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A Brief History

In 1919, the late Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew founded the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of the Living G-D, Pillar and Ground of Truth in Harlem, NY. The Israelite Academy traces its origin back to the Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College that was established by Chief Rabbi W. A. Matthew in 1925. From 1925 to 1970, Chief Rabbi Matthew served as Dean and Rosh Yeshivah and produced over 30 rabbis. Spiritual and intellectual giants were grown from this simple root.

The college acquired a new name in 1970 – The Israelite Rabbinical Academy. Rabbi Levi Ben Levy served as the Dean of the academy and the work continued. In 1977, Rabbi Levy was elected the next Chief Rabbi of the community and in 1978, he appointed Rabbi K. Z. Yeshurun to succeed him as Dean of the academy. In 1992, Rabbi Sholomo Levy became the Dean of the academy. During the summer of 2001, the members of the Israelite Board of Rabbis voted to transform the Israelite Rabbinical Academy into an institution that would offer courses in Judaic/Israelite education These courses are tailored to training laypeople to be teachers and leaders in congregational and some secular settings.

This historic change has allowed for laypeople and those new to the faith to acquire knowledge in a friendly and welcoming environment without the five year commitment required to enter the rabbinic program.
Rabbi Baruch A. Yehudah and Rabbi Malchah Netanyahu are the current Deans of the Academy.

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