Yeshiyah Amariel, a recognized Orthodox Jew of Hispanic (Cherokee) American descent, is all about Torah, unity and support for Israel. His slender form, Chassidic styled black suit, black hat, and dark skin to match would give the first impression that he was a Black Hebrew or Ethiopian Jew, but there is much more to him than meets the eye. He is a contributor to AIPAC, member of United Jewish Communities, and has also lived in Israel for several years as a volunteer for an Israeli archaeologist, the Nature and Park Authority and other worthy causes. He has been involved in translations of artifacts and excavations of Tel Arad, which is considered the only archaeologically discovered “BYT-YHWH” in Israel, and received recommendations from colleagues to attend any university in the country to become an archaeologist. He is also currently studying to take exams to receive semicha from the Chief rabbinic’s office in Israel.
Amariel’s family are among the Native American tribes that many historical figures, such as the 1800s Jew Mordecai Noah, regarded as brothers to the Jewish people and a lost tribe of Israel. In 2005 Yeshiyah’s father was published in a Jerusalem Post article by Sheera Frenkel that traced their family’s Jewish links through Cherokee roots and also spoke concerning his translation of the ancient Hebrew Tanakh into English (referred to as the first of its kind). Howshua Amariel (Yeshiyah’s father) is also a rabbi who sits on a Torah-based judicial committee of black Jews with Rabbi Capers C. Funnye Jr., cousin of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (Senator Barack Obama’s wife).
In our interview, Yeshiyah Amariel claimed that his grandfather knew Senator Obama back when he was originally running for the Illinois State senate. Amariel added “My grandfather told us that we should support Obama because he has good intentions. And given Obama’s record of support toward Israel since he has been in the US Senate, I was inclined to agree with my grandfather.” “From my work, I have received letters of recommendations from Rabbis, Jewish community leaders, and Orthodox Israeli Jews in support of my goals to become an official rabbi in the State; but it wasn’t easy” said Amariel, stating that it took years for them to know that he was sincere in his objectives. He imagined that the same would be for Obama and decided to offer his assistance. So Amariel called the Obama Headquarters in Chicago and volunteered directly with officials and offered his aid to anything he and other supporters in Israel could give. “When we called the operators were excited to hear from Americans calling from Israel to volunteer for the movement for change.” “From then I got in contact with Obama’s Mid-East and Jewish advisor Eric Lynn and let him know that we were starting this ‘campaign’ in Israel to support Obama. I also urged him that Obama should consider a visit to Israel and if he did we would be there to show our support.”
On the political scene, Amariel is a member of Democrats Abroad in Israel, and the lead manager and strategist for the “Israel for Obama” campaign started in Israel. His group of American Israelis helped comfort Jews and Israelis to the idea of an Obama presidency and organize Americans living in Israel to vote for Barack Obama. One of the members of the group Samson Altman-Schevitz also lived in Chicago and knew Michelle Obama when she served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. They have a blog on Obama’s official page, but beside that Yeshiyah is also a member of other pro-Obama Jewish groups in the United States like Orthodox Jews for Obama and Jews for Obama (whom have supported their efforts in Israel). After Senator Obama’s visit to Israel, Yeshiyah and his group have received letters of cooperation with DA Israel chair Joanne Yaron and DNC supported Middle-East regional director Bob Barad in Italy.
Amariel also has written and received at least two letters from the Senator concerning his positions on Iran (Sanction bills passed), Israel (his commit to their continued aid) and the Palestinian conflict (to abstain from additional fighting that could prevent the peace process). Yeshiyah hopes to provide the Israeli people with a direct link to the Illinois senator to better understand his positions when concerning Israel and the Jewish people. He also wants to establish this connection for average Israelis to express their views from the grassroots.
“We interview American Israelis all over Israel” stated Amariel as he referred to their ‘IsraelforObama’ YouTube Channel. “…the number one reason why most Jews we talk to have a good opinion of Obama is because of the idea of unity within his campaign’s message. Some believe that kind of idea of harmony may be what the Middle East could use to become peaceful. I believe it’s what should be used to bring Jews together around our common goals.”
Barack Obama Israel for Obama blog [http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/blog/IsraelforObama]
American’s Election HQ; Wednesday, July 23, 2008; “Obama Calls for ‘Lasting Peace’ in Israel, Warns of Iranian Threat” by FOXNews.com. [http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/07/23/obama-defends-israels-right-to-self-defense-says-hell-work-for-peace/]
TIME Magazine; Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2008 “Obama Tours Holocaust Memorial” By AP/DAVID ESPO [http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1825777,00.html]
Barack Obama Orthodox Jews For BO group [http://my.barackobama.com/page/group/OrthodoxJewsForBO]
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice- Democrats Abroad Israel; Bridging the Gap between Israel and America Israeli-Americans: The Hyphenated Citizens. [http://www.pjvoice.com/v31/31200groups.aspx]
Democrats Abroad Israel [http://www.democratsabroad.org/group/israel-jerusalem-area]
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