Part of a series on
<center>Star of David        Lukhot Habrit        Menora
Portal | Category
Jewish religious movements
Orthodox (Haredi · Hasidic · Modern)
Conservative · Reform
Reconstructionist · Renewal · Humanistic
Rabbinic · Karaite
Jewish philosophy
Principles of faith · Kabbalah · Messiah · Ethics
Chosenness · Names of God · Mussar
Religious texts
Tanakh (Torah·Nevi'im·Ketuvim)
Ḥumash · Siddur · Piyutim · Zohar
Rabbinic literature (Talmud·Midrash·Tosefta)
Religious Law
Mishneh Torah · Tur
Shulchan Aruch · Mishnah Berurah
Kashrut · Tzniut · Tzedakah · Noahide laws
Holy cities
Jerusalem · Safed · Hebron · Tiberias
Important figures
Abraham · Isaac · Jacob
Moses · Aaron · David · Solomon
Sarah · Rebecca · Rachel · Leah
Rabbinic sages
Jewish life cycle
Brit · Pidyon haben · Bar/Bat Mitzvah · Marriage
Niddah · Bereavement
Religious roles
Rabbi · Rebbe · Posek · Hazzan/Cantor
Dayan · Rosh yeshiva · Mohel · Kohen/Priest
Religious buildings & institutions
Synagogue · Beth midrash · Mikveh
Sukkah · Chevra kadisha
Holy Temple / Tabernacle
Jewish education
Yeshiva · Kollel · Cheder
Religious articles
Sefer Torah · Tallit · Tefillin · Tzitzit · Kippah
Mezuzah · Hanukiah/Menorah · Shofar
4 Species · Kittel · Gartel
Jewish prayers and services
Shema · Amidah · Aleinu · Kaddish · Minyan
Birkat Hamazon · Shehecheyanu · Hallel
Havdalah · Tachanun · Kol Nidre · Selichot
Judaism & other religions
Christianity · Islam · Judeo-Christian
Abrahamic faiths · Pluralism · Others
Related topics
Antisemitism · Zionism · Holocaust

The "Commandment Keepers: Holy Church of the Living God" are a sect of Black Jews, founded in 1919 by Nigerian-born Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew[1], who believe that people of Ethiopian descent represent one of the lost tribes of Israel.[1] They claim King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as their ancestors, and believe the biblical patriarchs to have been black.[2]


The mother congregation of the movement has since 1962 been located at 1 West 123rd Street in Harlem, New York City. Most of its members are black but it has always had white visitors and occasionally white members. They use the De Sola Pool Spanish and Portuguese prayerbook, the Hertz Chumash, parchment Torah scrolls, and offer standard orthodox Sephardi style Sabbath and Jewish Holyday services.

The congregation is featured in a scene from the 1970 motion picture The Angel Levine[3] which starred Harry Belafonte and Zero Mostel.

In 1973, Matthew died, creating an interior conflict over who would be the new leader. David Matthew Doré, who was 16 years old at the time, was named spiritual leader of the congregation just before Matthew’s death. In 1975, the board of the congregation elected Willie White to be the new leader. Doré continued to host services at the synagogue until the early 1980s, when White began locking people out. Doré at this time was working as a lawyer, but states that he often tried to enter the synagogue. Throughout the 1990s membership was declining. In 2004, Zechariah ben Lewi became the rabbi for the Commandment Keepers, and membership has dropped to eight people. A lawsuit was filed against Doré that year for wrongfully claiming himself to be the spiritual leader of the congregation. The court ruled against Doré.[4] The ruling was overturned on July 9, 2007.[5] The board proceeded to sell the building at 1 West 123rd Street. Doré, as attorney for Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of the Living God Pillar and Ground of Truth, Inc., filed a lawsuit against the board for selling the historic landmark, and in October 2007 a court vacated the sale and ordered a trial.[6] As of 2008, Doré's suit against the buyer was pending.[7]

The congregation will be profiled in a documentary film currently under development, which will be released in the near future.[8]



  1. 1.0 1.1 The Manhattan African-American History and Culture Guide, Museum of the City of New York
  2. University of Virginia New Religious Movements website
  3. The Angel Levine,
  4. Herschthal, Eric (2007-07-06). "Decline Of A Black Synagogue". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2008-02-09. 
  5. Commandment Keepers v. Doré, David Matthew. Supreme Court of the State of New York. Index #100769/2004.
  6. Commandments Keepers. Supreme Court of the State of New York. Index #117509/2006.
  7. Commandment Keepers v. 31 Mount Morris Park. Supreme Court, New York County. Index #106102/2007.
  8. "The Commandment Keepers" film website


External links

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.