Nov. 10, 2014
Kulanu offers heartfelt condolences on the death of Rabbi Hailu Moshe Paris, Kulanu’s dear friend and a leader and mentor of the black Jewish community. He passed away on November 3rd, 2014, at the age of 81. May Rabbi Paris’s memory be for a blessing.
Rabbi Paris served as spiritual leader and director of Hebrew education at the Mount Horeb E.H. Congregation, an African American synagogue in the Bronx in New York City. He also taught Talmud and Ethiopian History in the Israelite Rabbinical Academy, and was a member of the International Israelite Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Hailu Paris was well-known for his writings on, and his work in support of, Ethiopian Jewry.
Kulanu has been in contact with Rabbi Hailu Paris for over a decade. In 2002 he worked with Kulanu activist Yaacov Gladstone to reach out to the Black Jewish communities of greater New York in support of Jewish communities in Uganda and Ghana. Gladstone has commented, “They have struggled alone in isolation much too long. We want to reach out to them in a spirit of kinship. They should be part of Klal Yisrael. With our help we hope this will be achieved” (from the Summer 2002 Kulanu newsletter). In 2010 Kulanu reported that Rabbi Hailu Paris received the Kiruv Award for “bringing the Jewish community closer together,” given by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and The Boston Jewish Heritage Committee (from the Spring 2010 Kulanu newsletter).
Rabbi Hailu Paris was an Ethiopian Jew, born 1933 in Addis Ababa. He spent his early years in an orphanage before being adopted by American Eudora Paris who had migrated to Ethiopia with Israelite leader, Rabbi Arnold Josiah Ford. Paris went on to attend Yeshiva University, and became a nationally known speaker and published writer on Ethiopian Jewry. He was also an activist in support of Ethiopian Jews: in the 1960s, long before American Jews really understood the plight of the Ethiopian Jewish community, Rabbi Paris joined early efforts to save the Beta Israel. According to Dr. Ephraim Isaac, another long-time activist, Paris never missed a meeting and worked throughout his life to promote understanding and support for Aliyah.
Read more about Rabbi Hailu Moshe Paris in this article from The Jewish Daily Forward: http://forward.com/articles/208669/rabbi-hailu-moshe-paris-revered-leader-of-americas/?p=all
Update: Kulanu friend Len Lyons remembers Rabbi Paris in this article published in Tablet magazine on November 15.
[Thanks to Monica Wiggan, blackjews.net and binacf.org for much of the biographic information contained here.]