SONS OF ABRAHAM- Ananyah Ben Israel, left, the mission head of the African Hebrew Israelites and Tsadekyahu Ben Israel, the community’s head of the ministry of information
UNTIL eight years ago Ananyah Ben Israel, 34, from Scenery Park, East London, went by his Xhosa name, Songezo Filita. But in 1999 he changed his name when he learnt that he might be a descendant of the ancient Israelites.
Now Ben Israel is the mission head of the Eastern Cape branch, a group of like-minded believers who call themselves African Hebrew Israelites.
These are 50 isiXhosa speakers living in King William’s Town and East London, 35 in Ngcobo and about 80 in Port Elizabeth. These are part of a larger international group of African Hebrew Israelites worldwide, including in countries like Israel, the United States and England.
Ben Israel, a business system officer at Eskom, became a convert after hearing about the African Hebrew Israelites from another believer.
They hold the view that all Bantu people are the blood descendants of the Israelites of the Old Testament. As a result they live a lifestyle directed by the rituals and laws that God gave Israel.
This includes observing holy days like the Sabbath and Passover, circumcising boys eight days after birth, refraining from sex before marriage and marrying within the community.
“We also maintain a vegan diet and avoid all animal by-products. We only wear natural fabrics like cotton, wool, linen and silk,” said Ben Israel.
See: Eastern Cape amaXhosa convert to Hebrew faith