MO’s Jewish Cousin, A Rabbi Close to the Obamas

The Forward recently reported that Michelle Obama, wife of Sen. Barack Obama, has a cousin once removed who is a rabbi on Chicago’s South Side. His name is Rabbi Capers Funnye (fuhn-AYE) and he is head of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation (House of Peace for the Children of the Ancient Ethiopian Hebrews).

WTTW Chicago (PBS) did a fascinating piece on Beth Shalom a while back:

My parents live north of Chicago and have been to Beth Shalom a number of times. They say that the energy of the building is unmatched and that curiosity about the traditions, prayers, and customs of African-American Jewry is received with enlightening conversation and gracious enthusiasm.

Indeed, according to The Forward, Funnye is known on Chicago’s Board of Rabbis and elsewhere for such dialogue:

[Funnye is known] for acting as a bridge between mainstream Jewry and the much smaller, and largely separate, world of black Jewish congregations, sometimes known as black Hebrews or Israelites. He has often urged the larger Jewish community to be more accepting of Jews who are not white.

Despite Funnye’s family connection to the Obamas (he attended Barack and Michelle’s wedding), he is not active in the campaign, saying only, “I know that her grandfather and her father and my mom and all of our relatives that are now deceased would be so very, very proud of both of them.”

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

Bookmark and Share

One response to “MO’s Jewish Cousin, A Rabbi Close to the Obamas

  1. Rabbi Funnye’s comment about all of his deceased relatives shepping nachas is so very Jewish – he sounds just like my own bubbe, may she rest in peace..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s