Posts Tagged ‘MICHELLE OBAMA’

MICHELLE OBAMA 00000!-OBAMA OOOOOO!–“THE MEANING AND MAGIC OF MICHELLE OBAMA” BY MENELIK CHARLES ON FACEBOOK!

December 4, 2015

from menelik charles on facebook

OBAMA OOO!- “THE MEANING AND MAGIC OF MICHELLE OBAMA” BY MENELIK CHARLES ON FACEBOOK!

from menelik charles on facebook

Menelik Charles‘s post.
Menelik Charles's photo.
Menelik Charles with Rashida Marie Strober.

The meaning and magic of Michelle Obama…
Regardless of what we may feel about her husband, the fact remains that his election installed a dark-skinned, Negroid-featured, Black woman as the First Lady of the ‘most powerful nation on earth’. And while we may dispute such a grandiose title, there’s no disputing the extraordinary symbolism of Michelle Obama.

Why so?
Because she exists at a mad moment in African-American history where bi-racial, and the ‘barely-Black’ women, have displaced, and virtually erased, the standard Black female image from Hollywood movies, our tv screens, and even on the covers of so-called ‘Black’ magazines.
And what has been the impact of all the above?
There has been a severe crisis in Black female self-esteem, and one person has emerged to single-handedly help restore calm and confidence among the Black female collective, and rescue its image from global oblivion…
So please step forward one Michelle Obama!
The most photographed woman on the planet is not Halle… Beyonce…or Rihanna… but a chocolate-colored curer of an unacknowledged psychic calamity, and the First Lady of the ‘free world’.
God sure does work in mysterious ways!
(c)2015  Menelik Charles.

OBAMA ATI QUEEN MICHELLE OBAMA AFTER THE BLACK HOUSE?-FROM NATURAL ROOTS MAGAZINE

March 28, 2014

OBAMA ATI QUEEN MICHELLE OBAMA AFTER THE BLACK HOUSE?-FROM NATURAL ROOTS MAGAZINE

RASTA OBAMA ATI QUEEN MICHELLE OBAMA-NATURALLY BLACK AS THEY CAN BE!

QUEEN MICHELLE OBAMA ! -MENELIK CHARLES’ ODE TO MICHELLE OBAMA! – FROM FACEBOOK!

March 26, 2014

Michelle Obama…America’s Chocolate Queen

BY Menelik CHARLES

Your skin is brown and clothing astounds
yet your beauty does confound

You’re proud of face and walk with grace
yet they can’t wait til you’re replaced

You reach to embrace where others shake
and Hug where others hesitate

By the President you stand near
and yet it’s YOU they fear

You read of smears ‘n’ sneers and
comments about your rear

You hear it all and stand so tall
while enemies stall ‘n’ fall

You’re the 1st Lady we applaud

(c) Menelik Charles.

— with Marilyn Aunty Mayo Cazoe-Cummings

· 
COMMENTS-

Menelik Charles
She’s a lady 

Yohanan EliYah
She has to be in the Top 5 of women who clean up well, because I have seen those pictures where she’s not really cute at all- but when she’s in 1st Lady character, OMG, I want her on my arm. All politics aside- I love this sistah.

Menelik Charles
Yep lol

Maria L. Castellon
Lovely and true poem…thanks!

Jonathan Chiles
Sir Charles,

Thank you for this excellent and poignant ode which honors our GREAT FIRST LADY and an even better MOTHER. ALL PRAISE unto Her and your considerable Artistry and Efforts.

Menelik Charles
Thanks bro Jonathan 

Jonathan Chiles
Thank you! You’ve built an impressive body of work. Compelling insight always and a dignified and wise world view – always.

Robert Rosenthall
THE WORLD’S QUEEN FROM THE ROYAL FAMILY OBAMA

OBAMA!-BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MICHELLE OBAMA WEARS ANOTHER BLACK DESIGNER’S CLOTHES!-A NIGERIAN DESIGNER BASED IN U.K.- BLACK ON!

September 13, 2010

from beijingtoday.com
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/7968011/Michelle-Obama-wears-Duro-Oluwu.html

Michelle Obama wears Duro Oluwu
August 30, 2010 Filed under howie wang
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(Telegraph)
Michelle Obama adds another designer to her United Nations fashion portfolio.

President Obama and wife Michelle leaving a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard, whilst on their summer holidays

America’s First Lady Michelle Obama’s holiday wardrobe this year includes a vibrant, patchwork, folkloric dress by the London-based Nigerian designer, Duro Olowu. The dress, a funky, layered, smock-style, features at least five different silk prints.Mrs Obama was photographed wearing the dress while out for dinner this week, with her husband, in Martha’s Vineyard. She has previously worn Duro Olowu’s designs in 2008 and 2009, and has long been a ‘collector’ of the newest and most eclectic brands on Planet Fashion, assembling a United Nations-style wardrobe since her husband was elected. Her fashion portfolio includes designs by the Taiwan-born Jason Wu; Thakoon Panichgul, who was born in Thailand; the Chilean-born, Maria Cornejo; Narciso Rodriguez, the only son of Cuban immigrants; London’s Erdem Moralioglu, who is of Turkish-Canadian descent; the Manhattan-based Naeem Khan, who was born in Mumbai; and the London-based Glaswegian, Jonathan Saunders, along with mainstream brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta.
America’s First Lady Michelle Obama’s holiday wardrobe this year includes a vibrant, patchwork, folkloric dress by the London-based Nigerian designer, Duro Olowu. The dress, a funky, layered, smock-style, features at least five different silk prints.
Mrs Obama was photographed wearing the dress while out for dinner this week, with her husband, in Martha’s Vineyard. She has previously worn Duro Olowu’s designs in 2008 and 2009, and has long been a ‘collector’ of the newest and most eclectic brands on Planet Fashion, assembling a United Nations-style wardrobe since her husband was elected. Her fashion portfolio includes designs by the Taiwan-born Jason Wu; Thakoon Panichgul, who was born in Thailand; the Chilean-born, Maria Cornejo; Narciso Rodriguez, the only son of Cuban immigrants; London’s Erdem Moralioglu, who is of Turkish-Canadian descent; the Manhattan-based Naeem Khan, who was born in Mumbai; and the London-based Glaswegian, Jonathan Saunders, along with mainstream brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta.
Duro Olowu, 44, was born in Lagos and studied law in England, before switching to his first love, fashion, long having been inspired by the unexpected mix of fabrics, textures and draping techniques of the clothing worn by the women of his native land.
He launched his own label in London in October, 2004, and was an instant hit with his use of luxurious fabrics and vibrant, clashing prints. He won the New Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards in 2005.
Last year, he opened his own boutique in London, in Mason’s Yard, on Duke Street, St James’s, offering both ready-to-wear and made-to-order. Earlier this year he was given the International Designer of the Year award at the 2010 Africa Fashion Awards, in Johannesburg.
He has just been named as one of the six shortlisted finalists for the 2010 Swiss Textiles Award, which will be decided in November. Last year’s winner was Alexander Wang.
Other Duro Olowu fans include Princess Caroline of Monaco, David Bowie’s wife, Iman, and Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/7968011/Michelle-Obama-wears-Duro-Oluwu.html

MALIA OBAMA-A BLACK BEAUTY IN HER OWN RIGHT-PROUDLY WEARS HER AFRICAN BRAIDS-AND SOMETIMES WOOLLY HAIRSTYLES!-WHETHER IN THE BLACK HOUSE,IN CHURCH, OR WHEN VISITING AFRICA!!

June 14, 2010

THE BLACKEST DOLLS #3

May 1, 2010

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OBAMA!-OUR BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON,MICHELLE OBAMA’S MOTHER SETS A STANDARD FOR AFRICAN EXTENDED FAMILY IN THE BLACK HOUSE!-FROM NEWYORKTIMES.COM,PEOPLE.COM,ABCNEWS.COM AND UPDATES AS THEY COME!

May 5, 2009

OUR QUEEN MOTHER OF BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY!

OUR QUEEN MOTHER OF BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY!

THIS ORIGINAL BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON WITH HER SON-IN-LAW

THIS ORIGINAL BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY MARIAN ROBINSON WITH HER SON-IN-LAW

04robinson_xlarge1FROM nytimes.com

An In-Law Is Finding Washington to Her Liking
Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Marian Robinson with her daughter, Michelle Obama, and her granddaughters Sasha, left, and Malia, at the White House Easter egg roll. Mrs. Robinson has had a full social life in her new city.

RACHEL L. SWARNS
Published: May 3, 2009
WASHINGTON — Marian Robinson, President Obama’s mother-in-law, moved into the White House “kicking and screaming,” said her son, Craig Robinson. She had never lived outside of Chicago and was reluctant to leave her beloved bungalow, her friends and family, her weekly yoga class and her familiar routines.

But after three months in the Executive Mansion, Mrs. Robinson is unexpectedly and decidedly savoring her new life.

She entertains visitors from Chicago. She attends White House dinners and concerts hosted by her daughter, the first lady, Michelle Obama. She dines at local restaurants and delights in events at the Kennedy Center, where she often sits in the president’s box and chats with performers.

In fact, Mrs. Robinson, 71, is so busy these days that the Obamas hired a baby sitter to watch their two daughters one evening because the nation’s first grandmother had plans.

“She has a very full social life, so much so that sometimes we have to plan our schedule around her schedule,” Mrs. Obama said jokingly last week during a lunch she hosted for Congressional spouses.

Mrs. Robinson still spends much of her time tending to the Obama girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. She shuttles them to and from school most days and accompanies them to some play dates, the first lady said. She attends class presentations, helps with homework and baby-sits when the president and first lady need extra help.

And with her plain-spoken, matter-of-fact manner, Mrs. Robinson helps keep the girls grounded amid the gilded trappings of their new lives.

But Mrs. Robinson has also managed to carve out her own space in the White House and to build a satisfying private life, according to Obama administration officials who know the family. Her bedroom sits on the third floor, just above the Obamas’ residential quarters. (The first lady told Oprah Winfrey recently that her mother often announced, “I’m going home,” as she headed upstairs.)

And because she remains a private citizen and still has something of an unfamiliar face, Mrs. Robinson can travel around Washington without being trailed by television cameras or recognized by the public even as she enjoys the perks of living at the White House. (Administration officials do not inform the news media about her comings and goings as they do with the president and first lady.)

For the first time in her adult life, she no longer has to cook or clean, unless she wants to. She participates in White House events; she sat alongside Malia and Sasha at a Black History Month performance of the a capella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and joined Mrs. Obama in reading a story to schoolchildren at the Easter egg roll.

She has also become a familiar figure at the Kennedy Center, where she has watched performances by the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, the choreographer Debbie Allen and the jazz singer Kurt Elling, among others. (Mrs. Obama likes to joke that her mother has been to the theater more than she has.)

And she joined her daughter for lunch in March at the home of Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

“There’s no standoffishness,” said Judith Jamison, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey troupe, who was invited to the president’s box at the Kennedy Center to meet Mrs. Robinson. “She’s very open.”

Sally Quinn, a Washington writer and socialite, who met Mrs. Robinson at the lunch hosted by Mrs. Heinz Kerry, described her as “the perfect grandmother you’d kill for: cozy, nice, sweet, friendly, dear.”

“It seemed to me that she’s perfectly comfortable in her new life,” Ms. Quinn said.

That may come as a relief to the Obamas, who relied on Mrs. Robinson to help care for their children during the presidential campaign. They did not want to move into the White House without her, Craig Robinson said.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Robinson, the men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University, laughed as he described how Mrs. Obama pleaded with him to help lobby their mother, who was refusing to move from Chicago.

“My sister said, ‘You’ve got to talk to Mom; she’s not moving,’ ” Mr. Robinson recalled. He said his mother was utterly unswayed by Mrs. Obama’s description of the exciting new life they would all lead in Washington.

Mrs. Robinson, a retired bank secretary who ran the 50- and 100-yard dashes in the Illinois senior games well into her 60s, has always prized her independence.

“She doesn’t want grand; she doesn’t want great,” Mr. Robinson said. “She would much rather stay home.”

But Mrs. Robinson eventually decided to move in, at least for a while, to help her granddaughters get settled. If she stays through Mr. Obama’s term, she will be the first mother-in-law to live in the White House full time since the Truman presidency, historians say. She declined to comment for this article, but when asked recently by Essence magazine whether she was enjoying her new life, she answered in the affirmative.

“I really am,” she said. “You want to know why? Because my children are good parents. It makes it very easy to be a grandmother when your children are good parents.”

Last week, Mrs. Obama returned the compliment.

In her chat with Congressional spouses, she suggested that her mother helped bring something precious to the White House, a sense of normalcy in extraordinary times.

“I feel like I’ve never left Chicago,” the first lady said. “Soccer on Saturday — yes, I’m on a soccer field all day, just like many of you. Slumber parties — we had about seven girls over, screaming and yelling.

“And we’re shuttling kids back and forth to play dates, just like usual, although now my mom does a little more of the shuttling than I do. I’m glad to have her here.”

More Articles in US » A version of this article appeared in print on May 4, 2009, on page A12 of the New York edition.

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from people.com

5 Things to Know about Grandma-in-Chief Marian Robinson
By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

Originally posted Tuesday January 20, 2009 09:40 AM EST
Barack Obama and mother-in-law Marian Robinson

Photo by: Joe Raedle / Getty

Michelle Obama’s mom kept house and home together during Barack’s presidential campaign, driving the couple’s young daughters to school (with Secret Service trailing in a separate car), serving dinner and tucking them into bed.

Now, Marian Robinson, 72, plans to follow her famous family to Washington. Typical mother-in-law behavior, right? Candid and independent, the retired bank secretary may not be what you expect:

She’s not moving to the White House permanently
Much ink has been spilled about Robinson’s plans to share quarters with the President’s family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But an Obama spokeswoman says Robinson will only temporarily move in to help granddaughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, settle into their new life. As Robinson told PEOPLE after the election: “I love those people, but I love my own house. The White House reminds me of a museum and it’s like, how do you sleep in a museum?”

She loves yoga
For this spry septuagenarian, limbering up is a family affair. Eleanor “Mama Kaye” Wilson, godmother to Sasha and Malia, is Robinson’s yoga partner, and their instructor is her younger brother, Stephen Shields, 57. “He’s our youngest child out of seven children and he’s the wisest,” Robinson tells PEOPLE. ” He has found a way to make a living doing what he likes to do. and I’ve always admired that.”

She brags on her son as much as her famous daughter
Setting out lunch in the Obamas’ Chicago home this past summer, it was a Sports Illustrated magazine that Robinson was eager to show off to a visitor. Inside was a profile on her son, Craig Robinson, 46, head coach for the men’s basketball team at Oregon State University. “They did a whole article on Craig!” said Robinson. “He’s another hard worker,” she said. “I’m just so proud of him.”

She keeps her opinions to herself
Unlike some mothers-in-law, Robinson says she’s conscious of not saying too much. “You try to get your kids not to think in the same way you did when you were coming along because you pass down – I call them ‘your issues’ – you pass down your issues and a lot of times, they don’t apply to their time and their life. They will have their own issues; they don’t need mine in their head.”

She’s not as strict as her daughter
“I follow the rules at Michelle’s house. At my house, they’re my rules. (Laughs.) I know Michelle is strict … When I’m at their house, the girls are doing all the stuff their mother has told them to do, there’s not much left for me to do! But when they’re at my house, they don’t have to scrape the dishes – and they get to watch TV.”

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FROM huffingtonpost.com

Marian ‘First Granny’ Robinson: I Have Always Looked Up To Michelle

WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama is a role model for many people, including her mother.

“Michelle has always been Michelle. And she has always accomplished whatever it was she set out to accomplish,” Marian Robinson told Essence magazine during a rare interview with her daughter. “I have always looked up to Michelle because she has been able to do things that I couldn’t do emotionally, psychologically or physically. I think she is amazing.”

Her late husband, Fraser, would be thrilled by his daughter’s success.

“You would not be able to shut him up! He would not be able to stand this,” Robinson, 71, told the magazine for its May issue, which is appearing on newsstands this week. “He would be beaming until you would just want him to stop talking.”

She said her husband bragged about Michelle and her brother, Craig, the basketball coach at Oregon State University.

“He always encouraged them, and when he talked about Craig and Michelle, you could just see a smile on his face whether it was there or not,” Robinson said. “He just enjoyed these two people.”

Mrs. Obama said she always felt that her parents were “unconditionally rooting for me. And kids need that.” She said their support helped build confidence in her and her brother early on, and gave them a sense of security.

Asked for advice for black families raising children, Robinson said treat them as “little people,” not as babies. She said most people don’t realize how much kids can absorb because they are listening, they love conversation and soak up information.

“The main thing that I think needs to be taught to children is the ability to think and make decisions,” Robinson said.

“OBAMA’S RABBI”-HIS COUSIN-IN-LAW-HEADS A BLACK JEWISH SYNAGOGUE IN CHICAGO-FROM NEW YORK TIMES -APRIL,2009

May 3, 2009

05rabbi-600FROM newyorktimes.com

Obama’s Rabbi
Alec Soth/Magnum, for The New York Times
Hallelujah, shalom: Rabbi Funnye singing at Shabbat services.

Published: April 2, 2009
Rabbi Capers Funnye celebrated Martin Luther King Day this year in New York City at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, a mainstream Reform congregation, in the company of about 700 fellow Jews — many of them black. The organizers of the event had reached out to four of New York’s Black Jewish synagogues in the hope of promoting Jewish diversity, and they weren’t disappointed. African-American Jews, largely from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, many of whom had never been in a predominantly white synagogue, made up about a quarter of the audience. Most of the visiting women wore traditional African garb; the men stood out because, though it was a secular occasion, most kept their heads covered. But even with your eyes closed you could tell who was who: the black Jews and the white Jews clapped to the music on different beats.

Alec Soth/Magnum, for The New York Times
Rabbi Capers Funnye
Funnye, the chief rabbi of the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, one of the largest black synagogues in America, was a featured speaker that night. The overflowing audience came out in a snowstorm to hear his thoughts about two men: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. King is Funnye’s hero. Obama, whose inauguration was to take place the following day in Washington, is family — the man who married Funnye’s cousin Michelle.

A compact, serious-looking man in his late 50s, Funnye (pronounced fu-NAY) wore a dark business suit and a large gray knit skullcap. He sat expressionless, collecting his thoughts, as Joshua Nelson and his Kosher Gospel Band steamed through their sanctified rendition of the Hebrew hymn “Adon Olam.” Nelson, a black Jew, was raised in two Jewish worlds — a white Reform temple in New Jersey and a Black Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn — and he borrows from both. The first time the Rev. Al Sharpton heard a recording of Nelson’s “Adon Olam,” he said, “I can hear that’s Mahalia Jackson, but what language is she singing in?”

Mary Funnye, Capers’s wife, tapped her foot to the music and smiled with apparent equanimity, but her husband knew she was seething inside. “Mary has been a rabbi’s wife for a long time,” he told me a few weeks later. “She has an excellent synagogue poker face. But she really wanted to be in Washington that night” — for the early inauguration festivities — “not New York. And you can’t really blame her.”

The Funnyes were invited to Washington by the Obamas for a full calendar of inaugural events, including a dinner that evening held by the president-elect for his family and close advisers. Mary’s brother, Frank White Jr., a businessman who served as a prominent member of Obama’s national finance committee, was invited. So were three of Funnye’s sisters. It was going to be the family reunion of the year, the social event of the season and a crowning moment in American history. Mary had a formal gown ready. But here she was, singing “Adon Olam,” as she did virtually every Shabbat in Chicago.

Still, to be fair, this night was a historic moment for her husband too. For the first time in a rabbinical career stretching back to 1985, Funnye had been invited to speak at a white, mainstream synagogue in New York. Plenty of black Christian ministers, in a spirit of ecumenism and racial harmony, have addressed Jewish congregations in the city. But a black rabbi? Many American Jews regard the very concept as an oxymoron, or even, given the heterodoxies of much Black Jewish theology, some sort of heresy. Funnye has been trying for years to demonstrate that he and his fellow Black Jews belong in the Jewish mainstream. Mostly he has been ignored.

But it is hard to ignore a man with a cousin in the White House. Tonight was payback for all those years of stupid jokes (“Funnye, you don’t look Jewish”), insulting questions and long, wondering stares. Funnye was finally being given the stage at a high-profile Jewish event. “My Broadway debut,” he said, without evident irony, as he prepared to go on. “Been a long time getting here, but I’m ready.”

Capers C. Funnye Jr. was born in South Carolina in 1952 and raised on the South Side of Chicago. His paternal relatives are Gullahs from the barrier islands off Charleston, S.C. The Gullah community has retained many of its original African customs and much of its ancestral language. On his first visit to Nigeria, in 2001, Funnye was delighted to discover that variations of his family name are common in Africa. On his maternal side, he is a Robinson. His mother, Verdelle, was the sister of Fraser Robinson Jr. — Michelle Obama’s grandfather. That makes Funnye and Michelle Obama first cousins, once removed.

And not that removed, really. “Our families were very close,” Funnye says. “All through my childhood, our families were in and out of each other’s houses, celebrating holidays together, that kind of thing.” As kids, Funnye and Michelle Obama weren’t peers (he was nearly 12 years older), but they connected in earnest years later, in 1992, at her wedding, and a friendship developed. The Obamas, like Funnye, were involved in community organizing in Chicago, and they saw one another often, socially and professionally. It didn’t surprise Funnye, he told me, that when he and Mary went to Washington to attend Obama’s inaugural ceremony after Funnye’s speech in New York, they were in the good seats, near Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. Family is family.

Funnye was not always Jewish. When he went off to college at Howard University in 1970, he was the conventionally Christian son of upwardly striving parents. But he was moved by the radicalized atmosphere of the day. Black nationalism, Afrocentrism and cultural separatism were in vogue, and Funnye came to see Christianity as an alien religion imposed on blacks by white slave masters. “I was never an atheist,” he told me. “I just wanted to find the right way to worship him.”

During a summer job in Chicago, some friends introduced Funnye to Rabbi Robert Devine, the spiritual leader of the House of Israel Congregation. Devine preached that Africans were the true descendants of the biblical Hebrews, and that Jesus, the Messiah, was a black man. The message appealed to Funnye. Devine baptized him in a public swimming pool, and Funnye entered the complicated world of black American Jewry.

Estimates of how many black Jews there are in the United States range widely. It all depends on who is doing the counting and what criteria are being used. There are Jews who happen to be black: kids adopted by white Jewish families, for example, or the offspring of mixed parents. (Orthodox Judaism recognizes as Jewish the offspring of only Jewish mothers; Reform, the largest American denomination, accepts patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent.) There are also African-Americans who have been converted to various forms of Judaism, as well as Jews of Ethiopian origin who immigrated to Israel and subsequently moved to America. Probably no more than 2 percent of the American Jewish community is made up of black Jews.

There have been African-Americans with blood ties to white Jews since at least the early 19th century. Among them was Julia Ann Isaacs, the daughter of a white Jewish man, David Isaacs, and a free black woman, Nancy Ann West. In 1832 Julia married Eston Hemings, the son of Sally Hemings and — more than likely — Thomas Jefferson. Another was Francis Cardozo, a freeborn black man of Jewish descent (and a distant relative of the Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo), who during Reconstruction served as secretary of state and treasurer of South Carolina. But in almost no such early cases did the offspring of black-Jewish unions identify themselves as Jewish.
Black Judaism as a self-conscious religious identity arrived in America in Lawrence, Kan., in 1896. A charismatic Baptist named William Saunders Crowdy established a black congregation called the Church of God and Saints of Christ, where he preached that Africans were the true descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Didn’t the Bible tell that Moses married a black-skinned woman? he asked. And that King Solomon bestowed on the queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian, “all her desire”?

One implication of Crowdy’s doctrine was that blacks were God’s chosen people. This might have been a hanging offense in Kansas at the time had white people been aware of it, which they mostly weren’t. The denomination practiced an eclectic, “roll your own” brand of religion that combined beliefs and practices of the Old and New Testaments. Crowdy’s tabernacles practiced male infant circumcision, observed Saturday as the Sabbath, celebrated Passover and other Jewish holidays — but venerated Jesus Christ.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Crowdy’s faith offered freed slaves and their offspring something that mainstream Christianity did not: a grand historical identity and a distinctively black mode of religious expression. This proved to be a potent mix. Since the formation of the Church of God and Saints of Christ, there have been more than 200 congregations in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. Today the group still has more than 50 affiliated congregations. In addition, a great many other “messianic” Jewish houses of worship have flourished, including Rabbi Robert Devine’s congregation, where Funnye first came to regard himself as a Black Jew.

“When I joined Rabbi Devine’s shul, I felt less like I was converting to Judaism than reverting,” Funnye recalls. “Going back to something.”

For a few years after leaving Howard, as he worked a series of jobs in Chicago, Funnye found Devine’s conception of Judaism to be rewarding. But he eventually became uncomfortable with the hybrid nature of Devine’s theology. As his interest in Judaism deepened, Funnye was increasingly drawn to the more conventional teachings of a black, Brooklyn-based rabbi named Levi Ben Levy, the spiritual leader of the Hebrew Israelite movement. “He taught me that real Judaism isn’t mixed in with Christianity,” Funnye says. He studied with Levy for five years, long distance from Chicago; the curriculum included Biblical Hebrew, liturgy, standard rabbinic texts and Jewish history from the perspective of African originalism. In 1985, Levy ordained Funnye as a rabbi, although no mainstream denomination accepted the title or Levy’s right to confer it.

Very few white rabbis were even aware of the existence of the Hebrew Israelites. The movement was established in the early 20th century by Wentworth Matthew, a charismatic figure who arrived in Harlem at the end of World War I, claiming to be from Africa, although he was more likely born in St. Kitts. Matthew proclaimed himself a rabbi and founded a congregation in New York called the Commandment Keepers. He was influenced by the idea that blacks were the original Hebrews; but unlike William Saunders Crowdy, who lived in rural Kansas, Matthew modeled his congregation on the white Judaism he saw around him in New York. He called his a storefront a shul, introduced a standard Hebrew prayer book and weekly Sabbath Torah readings, discouraged excessive shows of emotion during worship, insisted on separate seating for women and men and instituted a modified version of kosher dietary laws. He also, and crucially, denied the divinity of Jesus and the truth of the New Testament.

As Matthew’s group grew, it became far more “orthodox” in its Jewish ritual and code of conduct than the average Reform temple. Still, Matthew held some highly unorthodox beliefs. Chief among them was the doctrine that many white Jews are descended not from the ancient Israelites but from the Khazars, a tribe of Turkic nomads who, according to legend, converted to Judaism in the eighth or ninth century. Mainstream scholars say there is no historical evidence for such a claim, but it remains an article of faith for many Black Jews. (The claim is also a staple of anti-Israel rhetoric, a fact that Funnye, who like most Black Jews supports Israel, says makes him uneasy.)
Matthew didn’t express animosity toward white Jews. On the contrary, he saw and appreciated them as temporary placeholders, people who kept the faith of Israel going while the Black Jews were lost in bondage. He sought to make common cause with and be included in the wider Jewish community: twice he applied for membership to the mainstream New York Board of Rabbis, but he was turned down. The Orthodox rabbis were flabbergasted that any gentile, black or white, would have the chutzpah to declare himself to be a Jew, let alone a rabbi. Some of the more liberal rabbis were intrigued by the Hebrew Israelites but were not willing to fully embrace them as fellow Jews.

For Matthew and his followers, the disappointment was acute. “Rabbi Matthew concluded that black Jews would never be fully accepted by white Jews, and certainly not if they insisted on maintaining a black identity and independent congregations,” Sholomo Ben Levy, the rabbi of the Black Jewish Beth Elohim Hebrew Congregation in Queens, wrote in an article published by the Hebrew Israelites. “Since his death in 1973, there has been virtually no dialog [sic] between white and black Jews in America.”

It has become the mission of Capers Funnye to start that dialogue. “I believe in building bridges,” he told me as we sat in his office at the Beth Shalom synagogue in Chicago, a week and a half after his Martin Luther King Day speech in New York. “That’s why speaking at the synagogue was so important to me.”

“Has Mary forgiven you?” I asked.

Funnye nodded. “We drove down to D.C. and made one of the balls the next day,” he said. “And she got to snap a picture of Denzel Washington, so everything is more or less cool.”

At the King Day celebration in New York, the musician Joshua Nelson proved a hard act to follow; Funnye came across as stiff and cautious, expressing measured thoughts about Jewish solidarity, the brotherhood of man and the need for peace in the Holy Land. But here in his study, surrounded by books and family pictures, he seemed far more at ease. The Sabbath was only an hour away, and people kept busting into the room — kids who wanted to show off their grades; an assistant rabbi who wanted a word about the youth group; ladies of the Nashe Or (“Women of Light”) Sisterhood who wanted to know what time exactly the communal meal should be served.

Funnye handled it all in good spirits. He is not only the chief rabbi of the congregation, which, in various permutations, has been around 90 years; he is also its C.E.O., spiritual leader, head social director, senior teacher and unofficial cantor. Beth Shalom, which he joined as an assistant rabbi in 1985, has about 200 members, making it the largest of the six American synagogues affiliated with the International Israelite Board of Rabbis (the organization that serves the Hebrew Israelites), and Funnye is the Israelites’ only full-time rabbi. A majority of his congregation are converts to Judaism, although a large number are second- or third-generation Black Jews. (People often confuse Funnye’s congregation with that of Ben Ammi Carter, a fellow black Chicagoan, who established a community of followers in Israel in 1969. Funnye, who says there is no similarity between their theologies, is at pains to differentiate the two.)

Early in his rabbinical career, Funnye says, he realized that his Jewish credentials were too limited and exotic for the kind of outreach efforts that he wanted to do. So he enrolled at the mainstream Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies. And in 1985 he underwent a second conversion, this one certified by a Conservative rabbinical court. Before he took this step, he consulted with his earlier mentor, Rabbi Levy; Funnye feared insulting other Black Jews. “I didn’t want anyone to interpret my conversion as meaning I thought they weren’t Jewish enough,” he told me. But he received Levy’s blessing. “I explained that if I was going to do the kind of outreach I wanted, European Jews had to feel that I was their brother,” Funnye said. “But I’m still a Black Israelite. A halakhic conversion” — one in accordance with traditional Jewish law — “wasn’t going to take away any of my blackness.”
After his second conversion, Funnye taught Hebrew and Jewish subjects at Chicago-area congregations and worked for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a group dedicated to fighting poverty, racism and anti-Semitism in the city. He sent his four children to Jewish day schools, quietly built his congregation and got to know the leaders of the white Jewish community. In 1997, he did what his mentors had all failed to do (and no Hebrew Israelite rabbi has since done): he became a member of the local Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Michael Balinsky, the executive vice president of the Chicago Board, says Funnye makes a conscientious effort “to play an active role in the mainstream Jewish community without losing his Black Hebrew tradition. He’s taken a leadership role for the Jewish community on civil rights issues and outreach to Hispanics and Muslims.”
In January, Beth Shalom organized a community celebration with members of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, a social-justice organization in Chicago headed by a Palestinian-American activist named Rami Nashashibi. Funnye has also worked to improve Chicago’s historically strained relations between its black and Jewish communities. In conversations with white Jews, he has defended the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom he admires, and he encourages dialogue with Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, whom he counts as a friend.

“I don’t agree with everything the man says or thinks,” Funnye said of Farrakhan. “I’m a Jew, after all. But you need to talk. Right now I’m trying to put together a group of Chicago rabbis for a meeting with Minister Farrakhan.”

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Two so far,” he said. “But I’m still working on it.”

Before sundown that night, Funnye joined about 60 congregants in the social hall for Friday-night blessings and a fried-fish-and-spaghetti dinner. In 2004, Beth Shalom bought its current building, on South Kedzie Avenue, on Chicago’s South Side, from a rapidly declining congregation of Lithuanian Jews. It has a tan brick exterior and a layout common to American synagogues circa 1955; it is a virtual twin of the temple in Michigan that I attended growing up.

The money for the building came mostly from tithes and contributions, and raising it was a stretch. “The members here are working people, teachers, city workers, mostly middle class,” Funnye said. “We don’t have any billionaire philanthropists, like the Bronfmans or the Crowns. The only rich black Jew I ever heard about was Sammy Davis Jr., and he’s dead. Besides, he was Reform.”

After the dinner, Funnye chanted the grace and then reassembled his flock in a large classroom for evening prayers and a Torah lesson. The week’s portion happened to be the story of the Exodus, and Funnye used it to illustrate the virtue of interdependence. “Think about it,” he said. “God told Moses to talk to Pharaoh, but Moses stuttered, right? I mean he stuh-stuh-stuh-stuttered. That’s what they called it back then. Nowadays he’d get called a rapper.” This got a laugh. A woman sitting nearby said, “Teach the Torah, rabbi.”

Funnye went on: “Moses stuttered so bad until he had to bring in his brother Aaron, who was a Cohen, a priest, to talk for him. And you know no priest is going to stutter, right?”

This got another laugh, and Funnye closed in on his moral — the importance of people from different backgrounds sharing the benefits of their respective upbringings. “I mean, hey, you grew up in the suburbs, maybe you can help me with something,” he said. “Or if you came up on 59th Street — some of y’all know what I’m talking about — so I know some things that you just don’t know. We can help each other.”

The congregation applauded and called out in agreement. This wasn’t the button-down Funnye who spoke at Stephen Wise in New York; here he was a signifying South Side Chicago rabbi.

A few years ago, before Beth Shalom bought its new synagogue, its members would meet in a small building on a blighted street in Chicago. A Latino gang worked one corner of the block, and a black gang worked the other. “Soon as we got there, somebody marked up the building with graffiti,” Funnye told me. “I went to both gangs and told them: ‘This is a synagogue, with elders and children. I don’t care what business you do during the week, but from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown you need to be respectful.’ I let them know that I am a man of peace but I’m not a pacifist and I had men in the congregation, so if we had a problem we’d deal with it ourselves, not call in the police until later.”

I was surprised to hear that the speech worked. “And the gangs fell into line, just like that?”

Funnye chuckled. “Well, I also had a word with some brothers I met doing prison counseling, and they may have intervened. I put out word when we moved here too. I don’t get in people’s business, but I won’t allow anyone to disrespect our synagogue.”

Because of Funnye’s connection to the Obamas, his community work has occasionally been a source of political interest. Between 1997 and 2002, Funnye served as the executive director of Blue Gargoyle, a nonprofit social-services agency that offers, among other things, adult-literacy and alternative-education programs. Blue Gargoyle was in Barack Obama’s district when he was an Illinois state senator, and during Funnye’s tenure, Obama earmarked a total of $75,000 for the organization. The issue of the earmarks and the family connection was raised by some of Obama’s opponents during the 2008 presidential campaign, but it didn’t gain traction; evidently the disbursements were aboveboard.

Funnye also worked with Michelle Obama in her capacity as executive director for community affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she focused on health issues affecting young people. Funnye told me that the only money Blue Gargoyle received from the university was a $5,000 grant for a tutoring program, and that the money did not come through Michelle Obama’s office at the hospital.

At the start of the 2008 presidential primary season, Funnye contributed a few hundred dollars to the Obama campaign but didn’t publicly endorse Obama, and he avoided mentioning the family connection. “I was afraid it might do him harm in the Orthodox community,” he told me. “I believe they were the ones putting out stories about Barack being a secret Muslim and so on. They could have made me out to be a friend of Farrakhan’s or a cult leader or who knows what.”

Obama apparently wasn’t worried by the association. During the Democratic primaries, as he came under repeated attack for being insufficiently pro-Israel, Obama reached out to Funnye, by way of Mary’s brother Frank White, the Obama fund-raiser. White told me that Obama encouraged him to “tell Capers to get the word out that I’ve got a rabbi in my family.” Funnye acknowledges getting the message. Before long, The Forward, the Jewish weekly, ran an article on Obama’s rabbi, and the news spread like low-fat cream cheese from Boca Raton to Brooklyn.

Funnye’s association with Obama probably didn’t reassure fervent Zionists — the rabbi is considerably to the left of Obama on Middle East policy — but it didn’t seem to hurt either. The connection to Obama certainly didn’t hurt Funnye. “I got no blowback from the Orthodox at all,” he said. “In fact, I started getting phone calls from a couple Hasidic rabbis in Israel who want to get together.”

There is no black Jewish neighborhood in Chicago. When they congregate on the Sabbath, the Hebrew Israelites come from all areas of the city, and they tend to spend the entire day in shul. The lyrics to the songs they sing are the same as the ones heard in any traditional synagogue, but the music is different. Hebrew prayers are sung in unison in something resembling call and response. A gospel-like band accompanies the choir’s weekly performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” During the Torah procession the congregation sings, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion.”

On one of the days I was there, in early February, I was the only white Jew in the shul, and an old guy in front of me kept turning around and showing me the right page. There’s a nudnik like him in every shul I’ve ever been to.

I forgave him, though, during the Torah service, when a young man faltered over the blessings and looked mortified. “Not your fault, young man,” the nudnik said. “The fire of the Torah burns so hot to where sometimes it just confuses your mind.”

At the end of services, I met a young woman named Tamar, who said her children are the only black Jews enrolled at the Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School. “Things have been a little tricky for them at school since Obama won,” she told me.

“Why?” I asked. “Aren’t most of the parents at the Day School Democrats?”

“Yes. They voted for Obama, and their kids are glad he won. But they don’t love Obama the way my children do. They aren’t thrilled in the same way.”

“So?”

“My kids are wondering, If their classmates and teachers figure out how personal this is for them, will they be considered more black and less Jewish?”

When I told Funnye the story he chuckled but said he wasn’t surprised. Being a black Jew in America can be a trying experience, even when white Jews are well intentioned. One morning I went with Funnye to a suburban Conservative congregation, where he was to deliver another Martin Luther King speech. We sat at the head table. I ate bagels and lox while Funnye chatted with a convert to Judaism. At the end of the meal the host rabbi stood and began chanting the blessing after food.

When he saw that Funnye wasn’t singing along, the rabbi pointed to the appropriate words. He didn’t realize that Funnye wasn’t praying because he was still eating. Another nudnik.

On Inauguration Day, Capers and Mary Funnye drove down from New York and made it to Washington in time for a quick shower. Then they boarded a bus for Obama-family relatives that drove them from venue to venue throughout the day. Over lunch at the Old Executive Office building, Funnye recounted, he bonded with Obama’s Kenyan grandmother and aunt and exchanged business cards with the president’s Kenyan half-brother. “I get to Africa from time to time,” Funnye said.

That was an understatement. Funnye heads the Pan-African Jewish Alliance, a group established to help Africans join and feel more included in the mainstream Jewish community. For its founders — Gary Tobin, the head of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, and his wife, Diane — the motivation is in part demographic. Discovering or creating millions of Jewish Africans (as well as opening the community in the United States to African converts and to African-Americans with Jewish roots) would, the Tobins say, greatly strengthen what they see as a stagnant population.

Funnye’s motive is more spiritual. As a Hebrew Israelite rabbi he maintains that many Africans were originally Jewish. Some, like the Lemba of South Africa, claim direct descent from the Jews of the Bible. There is considerable resistance to this notion, but many leading scholars take it seriously. “I have no problem believing that the Lemba of South Africa are descended from Jews,” says Jonathan Schorsch, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Columbia University. “Jews are ethnically and biologically mixed. It just makes sense that this mixing took place in Africa as well as other places.”

Funnye’s closest connection is to the Ibos, a tribe in Nigeria, some of whose members describe themselves as Jews. Beth Shalom has a sister synagogue there, and Funnye travels back and forth. For all practical purposes, he is the chief rabbi of Nigeria, and he has plans to reunite the Ibos eventually with the worldwide Jewish people through formal conversion.

Before he gets to Africa, though, Funnye has other commitments. A French organization recently flew him to Paris for a Martin Luther King event. He now finds himself flooded with invitations to speak at big Jewish congregations in California, Florida and Long Island. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, is planning a meeting for Funnye with his colleagues. I asked Potasnik if the organization would be willing to reconsider membership for the Hebrew Israelite rabbis. “We’d entertain an application,” he said. “I’d love to see the test case.”

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Reform Movement, is, like Potasnik, ready to consider new possibilities. “The fact that men and women sit separately in the Israelite congregations might be a problem for us on gender-equality grounds,” he told me. “But race would certainly be no problem for us.”

A few years ago, Funnye considered applying for membership to the Union for Reform Judaism. He shelved the idea when his congregants objected on the grounds that the white congregation was not observant enough. “Some of their rabbis perform intermarriages,” Funnye explains, “so some of our people were uncomfortable. But sometimes I think it would be good to be part of a larger movement. Maybe we’ll revisit the subject.”

Funnye hasn’t built all his bridges yet, let alone crossed them, but the progress he has seen — both as a black Jew and as a black American — has mellowed him. “You know, as a young man I was angry about the way we were laughed at and ignored,” he said. “I sometimes went down to the kosher meat market here in Chicago, put my face right up in the face of one of the Orthodox rabbis and yelled, ‘I ain’t never seen no white Jews before!’ I was so hurt I became obtuse and bitter. But I don’t feel that way anymore.” He paused. “There’s no need to shout. People are ready for a dialogue, to talk and to listen.”

Zev Chafets is a frequent contributor to the magazine. His most recent article was about Rush Limbaugh.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 26, 2009
An article on April 5 about Capers Funnye, a rabbi who is a cousin of Michelle Obama’s, misstated the name of an organization to which he considered applying for membership. It was the Union for Reform Judaism, not the Union of Reform Jews.

OUR BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY FIRST BLACK FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA HAS HER 100 DAYS TOO!-FROM SEFERMPOST.COM

April 27, 2009

6a00e55290c504883301156f5f2014970c-100wiFROM sefermpost.com

Monday, April 27, 2009
Michelle Obama: 100 Days Of Transformation
The 21 women nervously mingling at the White House were among the best in their fields. They had achieved Olympic gold, Grammy awards and four stars in the Army. One had orbited the earth aboard space shuttle Endeavour. Some had reached the highest outposts of corporate America, or had earned kudos on stage or on the big screen. They were together for one reason: Michelle Obama.

As a candidate’s wife, as it became increasingly clear Barack Obama might win the presidency, she had dreamed about a day like this, when she could bring together such a talented group and send them off to give pep talks to kids in the public schools.

As first lady, she realized she could make it happen.

“I couldn’t have imagined this a year ago,” Mrs. Obama said. She was speaking one morning last month to the other high achievers she had invited to the blue-and-yellow Diplomatic Reception Room in the basement of the White House.

Once in the White House, Mrs. Obama quickly was out the door and running on a bunch of issues, all of them very traditional, first ladylike and unlikely to upset the public.

She dashed around from one government agency to another, thanking often-criticized civil service employees for their work and plugging the president’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.

She got beyond official Washington, too — touring a neighborhood social services center, reading to little kids, serving mushroom risotto at a soup kitchen. She gave pep talks to high school students and dirtied her hands in the garden.

In Europe, she caused a media frenzy, not as much for where she went or with whom she met or for what she said, but for the outfits she wore to meet the British prime minister, the queen of England and the French president and his wife, a former fashion model.

Some of the clothes she wears sell out immediately after aides say where she got them. Numerous Web sites dissect and analyze her style; at least one is posting photos of every outfit she wears in public.

In London, she alone drew a rare, and much talked about, public display of affection from Queen Elizabeth II.

At a reception for world leaders attending the G-20 economic summit, Her Majesty draped an arm across the first lady’s back. Mrs. Obama returned the gesture, sparking endless discussion about whether it was wrong of her to touch the queen.

But the embrace also was a symbol of just how far Michelle Obama’s transformation had taken her. By getting a touch from the queen, she pulled off something few others have.

Mrs. Obama organized her own kind of G-20 summit at the White House last month, with an all-female cast ranging from singer Alicia Keys to actress Fran Drescher to astronaut Mae Jemison.

The assignment was to go out and inspire young people. Girls, especially.

Getting them to see their potential wasn’t something Mrs. Obama talked about on the campaign trail. The pep talks came after she realized the role model and source of inspiration she had become for so many.

“Nothing in my life’s path would have predicted that I’d be standing here as the first African-American first lady of the United States of America,” she told an audience of schoolgirls in London. “If you want to know the reason why I’m standing here, it’s because of education.”

It’s a simple pitch, and it’s the same whether she is talking to students in D.C. or England.

She was in their shoes once, but she liked going to school, she liked being smart, she liked getting A’s. She worked hard to get ahead and to prove the people who doubted her wrong. She tells students they can do the same.

Laura Bush says she wished she’d realized earlier the power she had as first lady.

Michelle Obama’s journey has already gotten her to that point, and she sees what she can accomplish.

OUR BLACK FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA SHOWS THE WAY TO HEALTHY EATING,GARDENING AND BEES!-FROM ARS.USDA.GOV

April 20, 2009

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama Highlight Healthy Eating
By Sandy Miller Hays

April 9, 2009
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2009—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined First Lady Michelle Obama and a group of 5th graders on the South Lawn of the White House today to talk about healthy eating, the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and bees.

“Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to have healthy food,” Vilsack said. “Working in a garden is a great way to stay physically active and maintain a healthy body. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping schools make sure that every student in America has a healthy and nutritious lunch to eat at school.”

This July, USDA will be providing two types of parasite-resistant honey bees developed by USDA scientists to pollinate the plants in the new White House garden this summer. Both of these bees are rapidly gaining in popularity with bee keepers.

Honey bees enhance any garden because they increase the yields of plants that require pollination, they produce honey, and they are one of Nature’s most fascinating creatures to observe. Unfortunately, parasitic mites cause serious health problems for most varieties of honey bees, and many beekeepers must use pesticides to combat the mites in the hives. But the USDA-developed bees are mite-resistant, offering a more natural, organic alternative for the White House garden.

Honey bees are crucial to American agriculture, adding some $15 billion in value in the nation’s crops, particularly specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. In California, the almond crop alone uses 1.3 million colonies of bees, approximately one half of all honey bees in the United States, and this need is projected to grow to 1.5 million colonies by 2010.

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, developed the two types of mite-resistant honey bees. One type is highly resistant to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, commonly known as the varroa mite. The bees have a trait called “varroa-sensitive hygiene” which prompts the worker bees to detect and remove infested bees from the nest, eliminating the need for chemical help to control the mites.

The second type of mite-resistant honey bees is based on a strain of honey bees from Russia which are naturally resistant not only to varroa mites, but also to tracheal mites, which infest the breathing tubes of the bees. These bees are also highly tolerant of cold weather and require less artificial feeding than typical honey bees.

The Russian bees were brought to the United States by Thomas Rinderer, research leader at ARS’ Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit at Baton Rouge, La., where studies have been under way on the bees since the mid-1990s. Rinderer and other ARS scientists will collaborate with White House staff on installation of the USDA bees in the White House garden.

For the past eight years, breeder queens of the Russian-derived and varroa-sensitive hygienic bees have been released to the beekeeping industry. In 2008, a breeders’ group called the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association, Inc., was formed to supply the Russian-derived queens throughout the U.S. beekeeping industry, and demand is outstripping supply.

Both types of mite-resistant USDA bees are good pollinators and easy to keep alive because of their hardiness, thus helping ensure the success of the new White House garden.