ethiopianjudaism.jpgA religious schism that's been ongoing for 34 years(!) recently elevated to charges of theft and looting at a Harlem synagogue. The congregation is made up of Orthodox Ethiopian Jews, and one faction in a legal holy war is suing 200 members. The filers of the suit allege that an unelected official of the synagogue misrepresented himself as the temple's owner and sold the building for $1.6 million. It also alleges that the defendant, Julian Wormley, then plundered the building of $575,000 worth of religious artificats, including four Torahs.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, David Dore, is also a rabbi at the synagogue and accuses the defendants of plundering "a gold mine." Dore has also been accused of robbing the temple and running it fraudulently, so it's all a huge disaster. The defendant in the suit, is fairly intemperate in his assessment:

"It's all a bunch of lies," said Wormley over the phone. "They can say whatever the hell they want. Let their ass swing for it."

Obviously, since Moses led Jewish people out of captivity, there's been a long history of Judaism in Africa. The Jewish community in Ethiopia dates back to the 4th Century B.C.E. In the mid-1980s, Israel made an effort to offer asylum to Ethiopian Jews in a sort of peronal Berlin airlift, called Operations Moses and Joshua.