MaNishtana, is a New York-based African-American Orthodox Jew–born from two African-American Orthodox Jewish parents–and is an author, writer, educator, playwright, rabbi, and public speaker, primarily on racial and religious identity & culture, and how their intersection manifests in America. Currently earning his second Orthodox rabbinical ordination, MaNishtana was born and grew up Chabad-Lubavitch, and hails from a legacy of African-American Judaism stretching into the 1780’s.
MaNishtana has appeared in both national and international press–including the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Jewish Week, the Jerusalem Post, Tachles, D La Reppublica, Unleash the Fanboy, and others–and has appeared on film in the documentaries Punk Jews (2012) and Doing Jewish: A Story From Ghana (2016). He has contributed to the Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet Magazine, and Hevria, and was selected as a presenter to both the BBYO International Convention and for ELI Talks in 2017. In February 2018, MaNishtana earned his first Orthodox rabbinical ordination.
A recipient of the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” award in 2014, and a cohort of the 2016 ROI Summit, MaNishtana is the author of three books on Jewish and African-American identity. A graduate of Brooklyn College, his debut novel “Ariel Samson, Freelance Rabbi” won as Finalist for the 2018 National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Award in the category of Debut Fiction, and is an Amazon Kindle Top 50 bestseller in the category of Jewish American Fiction. Additionally, MaNishtana has been a contributor to both the The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and Their Grownups), and the Tablet Magazine-published James Beard Award Nominee “The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List.”
MaNishtana lives in New York with his wife–a biracial American Jew and fourteenth-generation descendant of Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman-Heller, the Tosafot Yom Tov and 17th-century chief rabbi of Prague–and their daughter, the Tosafot Yom Tov’s African-American fifteenth-generation descendant.