Sefer Olam Rabba "The Great Order of the World"
Genesis (Bereshit) 1:1
Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz
In the beginning God created heaven and earth
(“The Lord has remembered.”)
The Unbroken Chain of Torah Transmission
The giving of the Torah "Matan Torah"
13 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
14 but with him that standeth here with us this day before the
LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day
Yoseh Ben Moshe Ben Yehuda “Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew" zt"l was a significant Israelite figure in the 20th century. In 1919, some 100 years ago, as beloved rabbi, scholar, visionary and teacher he took direct responsibility for the transmission of the Torah to his students and established the Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College to serve the Ethiopian Hebrew community and humankind in the capacity of spiritual leaders, teachers, custodians, and healers. As one of the oldest active Israelite synagogues in North America and
the Western Hemisphere, Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation - Beth Ha-Tefilah has been led by a succession of 5 rabbis since its
inception in 1919.
“…3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spoke unto Moses… 6 Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest…” Joshua “Yehoshua” יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Chapter 1:3, 6-9
Whoever Studies the Torah for Its Own Sake Merits Many Things
In Loving Memory
Those Who Came Before Us
We Remember Them...
those who taught us a
a single law...
a single verse...
a single word...
a single letter...
...We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs;
We remember them.
For as long as we live,
they too will live,
for they are now a part of us,
We remember them."
May Peace be upon him (A"H)
Founder Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew A"H
Spiritual Leader 1919 - 1973
Rabbi Chaim White A"H Succeeded Chief Rabbi Matthew
Spiritual Leader 1975 - 1997
Rabbi Yhoshua Ben Yahonatan A"H Succeeded Rabbi White
Spiritual Leader 1997 - 2000
Rabbi Zechariah HaLewi ibn Abraham A"H
Succeeded Rabbi Yahonatan
Spiritual Leader 2000 - 2015
Rabbi Zechariah HaLewi ibn Abraham A"H would say:
I rejoiced when they said unto me,
"Let us go to the House of the Lord...May there be peace in your wall, tranquility in your palaces...For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I shall beg for goodness for you." Psalms "Tehillim" Chapter 122
Rabbi Zechariah HaLewi ibn Abraham A"H (Western Wall)
Entrance to Synagogue
8:54. "When Solomon finished offering to the LORD all this prayer and supplication, he rose from where he had been kneeling, in front of the altar of the LORD, his hands spread out toward heaven.
8:55. He stood, and in a loud voice blessed the whole congregation of Israel:
8:56. "Praised be the LORD who has granted a haven to His people Israel, just as He promised; not a single word has failed of all the gracious promises that He made through His servant Moses.
8:57. May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He never abandon or forsake us.
8:58. May He incline our hearts to Him, that we may walk in all His ways and keep the commandments, the laws, and the rules, which He enjoined upon our fathers.
8:59. And may these words of mine, which I have offered in supplication before the LORD, be close to the LORD our God day and night, that He may provide for His servant and for His people Israel, according to each day’s needs —
8:60. to the end that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD alone is God, there is no other.
8:61. And may you be wholehearted with the LORD our God, to walk in His ways and keep His commandments, even as now."
One of America’s
Oldest Active Israelite Houses of Worship in North America and the Western Hemisphere
Honorable Mayor Ras J. araka (Excerpt)
"...It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon in this incredible edifice. I just saw the pictures taken prior to being here today. Newark has an abandoned property list where we are trying to revitalize our community...God is so good that he allowed your congregation to grab a hold of this property and to give it life, energy...it is almost impossible to see what has taken place after seeing the pictures before...your congregation gave it a lot of love, commitment, faith and prayer into making this building what it is today. A lot of blessings and prayers is going to seep out into the community, out into this whole community. It is just a pleasure to see what God has done this afternoon...it is our job today to do what you beautiful people have started today in this building today. God bless you and keep you."
The Honorable Mayor Ras J. Baraka
Dedication Address - Honorable Sharpe James (Excerpt)
"Today is the day that the Lord has made. It's special that we speak of a great and renown, former Chief Wentworth Arthur Matthew. We are here 96 years later because of his dream. He was a scholar, an educator, and a visionary person. Someone that the world internationally respected. So gifted, so talented that the university of Berlin in 1917 invited him to come to study 7 languages, sociology and anthropology...please come and share with us your knowledge and wisdom. University of Berlin...he didn't go into the sunset to make money for himself. He came back home to the United States and he went to Harlem and opened up the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation - Beth Ha-Tefilah in 1919. Think of that, 1919, the vision to open a synagogue that we gather today 96 years later to honor and keep the strength going; that's a worthy individual. And you know he was skilled and knowledgeable in Ethiopian Hebrew culture. He wanted to keep it alive, to grow it, to pass it on. And we do not give individuals of that caliber enough credit. Why do I say that? Two weeks ago, I paid $170.00 to sit in the mezzanine to see Amazing Grace. They were honoring a slave owner whose father was a slave owner. John Newton who on one of his trips with slaves in West Africa, Sierra Leone, was facing a monstrous storm; fearing the loss of his life, the loss of his cargo, the loss of his ship. He knelt down and said: 'God if you save my life, if you save my ship, my cargo; I will return to Sierra Leone and free the slaves.' And because we have a benevolent God, all powerful God, peace be still, they saved his life and the story is about when he went to England and wrote the song Amazing Grace. Once, I was lost, and now I'm found. Once, I was blind but now I can see. My question, my point is, would we ever pay $170.00 to sit in the mezzanine to read about Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew for his great work? We are honoring a slave owner whose father was a slave owner and father didn't want to return the slaves. But Chief Rabbi didn't stop there. He came back in 1930 and he opened up a school to train future rabbis, future elders, future educators. Dedicated, again, he didn't stop there. In 1942 he published the Minute Book, a short history of his life work and he described it as 'the most gigantic struggle of any people on a place under the sun.' It's a struggle, there is no free lunch folks...
Remarks - Mildred C. Crump, Newark Council President (Excerpt)
"Good afternoon everyone. We are celebrating a journey that began 96 years ago and here you are celebrating the journey here in the great City of Newark. I sat listening to Mayor Sharpe James presenting the chronicle of this journey and so when those persons from the great African country of Ethiopia made the decision that they would adopt Judaism as their faith base walk in life, and so we merged a great nation Ethiopia with a great faith base organization of Judaism and you can't get better than that...96 years, almost a century, you have been walking and talking in your particular faith base. I was most impressed when it said: 'How beautiful are thy tents, O Jacob! Thy tabernacles O Israel!' The Great City of Newark welcomes you to make this your new home. Whatever the Newark Municipal Council can do to support you, we are right here. God keep you and rest you in your new found walk."
Sacred Moment In Time
Rosh Hashanah Seder
The Spiritual Meaning
In Memory of
Rabbi Zechariah Lewi
Sep 27, 2015
It is with great sadness that in the midst of this holy season we report the passing of Rabbi Zechariah Ben Lewi.
During the Rosh Hashanah seder we partake of a series of symbolic foods (the simanim) each followed by a specific blessing.
Simanim – literally means signs or indicators – that are meant to point the way to improved circumstances.
Newark rabbi mourned after fatal hit-and-run In Jersey City
Fatal hit-and-run on Route 440 leaves police asking for help
New Jersey Jewish News
A special thank you, much respect, and honor. We were speechless for your service as Rabbis and Cantor during a difficult time in the untimely passing of Rabbi Zechariah HaLewi ibn Abraham a"h. Rabbis and Cantor of the Ethiopian Hebrew Community:
Rabbi Yeshurun Ben Lewi Rabbi Eliyahu Hammarabbi ben Yehudah
Rabbi Zikiyahu ben Levy Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levy
Rabbi Yehudah Benlewi
Rabbi Shalomoh Ben Amsi HaLewi
Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
- Beth Ha-Tefilah Headquarters Synagogue
Newark, New Jersey
Rabbi Zechariah Lewi Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College
Sunday, December 27, 2015
First Rabbi-Ordination of the Rabbi Zechariah Lewi Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College
In the spirit of God’s promise to make Israel a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; (Exodus 19:6); and in obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19-24) the Rabbi Zechariah Lewi Ethiopian Hebrew College is established to inspire, prepare and educate students for rabbinic leadership as rabbis to serve the Ethiopian Hebrew community and humankind.
Sunday, April 23, 2016
Oral History Project
Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation
Beth HaTefilah Headquarters
There are those who imagined that Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation - Beth HaTefilah Headquarters has fallen, but as you can see, they were badly misinformed. According to T'hillim (Psalms) 37:23-24 "From YHWH are the steps of a good man ordered, and He delights in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, because YHWH upholds him with His hand." Because of the work of Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew the children of the many he taught still call on YHWH's Great Name today.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Order of Service
Recitation of Several Psalms;
Why Three Names For A Cemetery?
Purpose for Sacred Pillar/Headstone מצבה “Matzevah;”
The Unveiling of the Matzevah “Removal of the Veil;”
The Unveiling of the School Dedication Plaque;
Recitation of “We Remember Them;”
El Maley Rakhamim (the Memorial Prayer/Prayer of Mercy) ; אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים
Chant Kadish Yatom;
Conclusion - Recitation of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3
Placement of Stones
If one has not visited a cemetery in 30 days he should recite the following blessing addressed to the deceased:
Baruch ata adonai Elo-kenu melech ha-olam asher yatzar etchem badin, v'dan v'chilkail etchem badin, v'hemit etchem badin, v'yode-ah mispar koolchem badin, v'atid l'ha-chazir ul-ha-chayot etchem badin. Baruch ate adonai-m'chayeh hemetim.
“Praised be the Eternal, our God, the Ruler of the Universe who created you in judgment, who maintained and sustained you in judgment, and brought death upon you in judgment; who knows the deeds of every one of you in judgment, and who will hereafter restore you to life in judgment. Praised be the Eternal who will restore life to the dead.”
Placement of Stones
Why should we leave stones rather than flowers?
His memory is supposed to be lasting - Stones do not die. taf, nun, tsadi, bet, hey stands for “teheye nishmato tsrurah b’tsror ha- chayyim,” a phrase usually translated “May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.” While other things fade, stones and souls endure…
Reestablishment of Rabbinical School
Rabbinical School Reestablished in 2015
In Honor of
Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew (20th Century)
"Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College"
Rabbi Zechariah Lewi (21st Century)
"Rabbi Zechariah Lewi"
Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew A"H (1892 - 1973), was a visionary, educator and prolific scholar who founded Commandment Keepers in Harlem, New York in 1919 during the height of the Marcus Garvey movement and the Harlem Renaissance. Chief Rabbi Matthew A"H was Chief of the Ethiopian Hebrews of the Western Hemisphere and the only rabbi with credentials from Ethiopia. The congregation under Chief Rabbi Matthew's tutelage survived World War I, the Depression, World War II and the Civil Rights era. In 1925 he founded the Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College.
Rabbi Zechariah HaLewi Ibn Abraham A"H became the spiritual leader of the congregation in 2000 and continued to maintain and conduct a house of worship in keeping with the dictates of the written and oral laws of Orthodox Ethiopian Hebraic culture and other traditionally authoritative codifications of Hebrew Law as set forth in the mission and legacy of the late Chief Rabbi Matthew A"H. He spearheaded an operational plan embracing the vision, mission, values and objectives of the late Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew’s legacy until being gravely injured in a fatal hit-and-run accident on Route 440 and Danforth Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey resulting in his untimely death on Sunday, September 27, 2015.
In the spirit of God’s promise to make Israel a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; (Exodus 19:6); and in obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19:24) the Rabbi Zechariah Lewi (21st Century) Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College (20th Century) is established to inspire, prepare and educate students through rigorous academic and professional study for rabbinic leadership as rabbis to serve the Ethiopian Hebrew community and humankind in the capacity of spiritual leaders, teachers, custodians, and healers. To fulfill the legacy set forth by our founder Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew A"H, the college is reestablished to meet the need for serious learning and an open minded environment for the 21st Century. The rabbinical college was reestablished in 2015 to honor both Chief Rabbi Matthew (20th Century) and Rabbi Zechariah Lewi (21st Century). It represents the ideology of the 20th Century embodied by Chief Rabbi Matthew A"H in his lifetime along with the 21st Century new millennia ideology symbolized by Rabbi Zechariah Lewi A"H thereby establishing a link to both the 20th and 21st Centuries. The college will create an environment for the highly motivated student seeking in depth Torah learning in the new millennia. The school’s name merges the two ideologies of the 20th and 21st centuries: Rabbi Zechariah Lewi Ethiopian Hebrew Rabbinical College.
"This is the intent of what the Rabbis of blessed memory have said:...one should be as particular regarding a seemingly insignificant commandment "mitzvah" as he would be with a severe one, as all mitzvoth are desired and beloved, because through their performance a person acknowledges God. The intention of all mitzvoth is that we should believe in God and thank Him for creating us, and this is the intention of creation..." Ramban Exodus "Shemot" 13:16
"Hear, my son the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the Torah of your mother."
T’hi Nishmato tzerura b’tzror hachayim
May his soul be gathered up in the bond of life.
Sh'ma Yisra'el, YHWH 'eloheinu, YHWH 'eḥad. - "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One."
“A long road begins from here, paved with the challenges of building...
according to the Torah... we might say – building God’s people...based on God’s Torah.” Sinai to Ethiopia p xvi
Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4: The Goal of Study
1 Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): "From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation."
"Judaism, in addition to being a vibrant religion in its own right, is the parent religion of both Christianity and Islam. One cannot understand the origins of these religions without understanding their roots in Judaism." Ten Reasons To Study Jewish Studies- Indiana University Jewish Studies -
Why Study Hebrew?
"Hebrew is the language of the Bible, which is both a religious and cultural foundation of incalculable influence and – especially read in the original language – one of the world’s most dazzling literary achievements. Learning Modern Hebrew is the simplest way into the Bible." Boston University World Languages & Literatures
"If you were given the choice of a fast food meal or one from a 5 star restaurant, which one would you chose? Both restaurants provide food, but I think most people would choose the 5 star restaurant as it provides, better food and a better atmosphere than a fast food restaurant. This same analogy can be used for the Hebrew Bible. Reading an English translation of the Bible is like the fast food restaurant; you may still get fed, but doesn't have the same impact as the Hebrew text. Even if one doesn't know Hebrew, much can be learned by understanding Hebraic concepts.
The Hebrew Bible (called the Tenack by Jews and the Old Testament by Christians) was originally written in this pictographic Hebrew script (as well as a modified form usually referred to as Paleo-Hebrew) by Hebrews whose language and culture were very different from our own. Because of this, it is through the study of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, language and culture we can better understand the Biblical texts." Introduction to Ancient Hebrew By Jeff A. Benner
Exodus Chapter 20 שְׁמוֹת
עשרת הדברים Aseret Ha Devarim (pictographic Hebrew)
DECALOGUE (The Ten Commandments). The statements of God quoted by Moses in Deuteronomy 5:6–18 are entitled "the ten words, or utterances" (Heb. עֲשֶׂרֶתהַדְּבָרִים aseret ha-devarim; LXX δέκα ῥήματα [Deut. 4:13], δέκα λόγοι [10:4]). The same title in Exodus 34:28 has traditionally been referred to the "original" version of these statements in Exodus 20:2–14  but see below). Mishnaic Hebrew עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת aseret hadibberot reflects the specialized use of דִּבֵּר dibber (cf. Jer. 5:13) for divine speech.
And God spoke all these words, saying:
I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me...
The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letter “Bet”
The letter Bet entered and said to the Creator: "Maker of the world, it would be good to create the world by Bet, as by me You are blessed Above and Below. For Bet is Berachah (blessing)." The Creator replied to Bet: "of course, I will create the world by you, and you shall be the basis of the world!"
The letter Bet, from the word “house,” refers to God’s house: “My house will be called a House of Prayer for all peoples.” The Divine motivation for creation was that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, desired a dwelling place in the lower world. The Torah precedes the detailed description of the Tabernacle and its vessels with the statement of its ultimate purpose: “They shall build me a Temple and I will dwell in them.”
"...7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.." Deuteronomy "Devarim דְּבָרִים" Chapter 6:7
Blessing the Children
Ye'simcha Elohim ke-Ephraim ve-chi-Menashe
"May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe."
Ye'varech'echa Adonai ve-yish'merecha.
Ya'eir Adonai panav eilecha viy-chuneka.
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha, ve-yaseim lecha shalom.
"May God bless you and watch over you.
May God shine His face toward you and show you favor.
May God be favorably disposed toward you, and may He grant you peace."
2017 Rosh Hashanah includes the sounding of the shofar
The shofar is blown in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah "Yom Teruah" and at the very end of Yom Kippur.
Commandment Keepers' Guide to Seder "Haggadah"
Retell Our Ancient Story
Tonight, we gather together to share the collective experience of our people, whom God freed from slavery in ancient Egypt to become His own people. The ceremony for remembering this experience is called the Seder, in Hebrew Seder means “order.” The Passover "Pesach" Seder is a composed ceremony with a number of different sections or steps. During our Seder we will eat special foods that help retell the story of the Israelites’ journey from slavery to freedom. Retelling and remembering the great story of the redemption from Egypt is central to the festival of Pesach. Each person in every generation must regard himself or herself as having been personally set free from Egypt. The Seder is not just a retelling of an ancient story, but we are gathered here tonight to experience the bitterness of oppression and the sweetness of deliverance so that we may glorify what God has done for us in each and every generation.
Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4: 5 - Rabbi Ishmael the son of Rabbi Yossei would say: One who learns Torah in order to teach, is given the opportunity to learn and teach. One who learns in order to do, is given the opportunity to learn, teach, observe and do...