Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Temple Beth-El marks passing of leader
More than 1,000 mourners made a traditional pilgrimage on Wednesday to bury Chief Rabbi Jehu August Crowdy Jr., head of Suffolk’s Temple Beth-El, seat of the largest and oldest congregation of blacks following the tenets of Judaism.
Northbound traffic on Bridge Road was momentarily paused several times, allowing waves of Temple Beth-El congregants to make the short walk from the North Suffolk tabernacle to Hebron Cemetery.
The cemetery, in the shadows of Interstate 664, is the final resting place for all seven past leaders of Church of God and Saints of Christ.
Email newsletter signup
Crowdy, who died in his sleep on April 10 at age 46, was at the helm for 14 years of the international denomination that is headquartered in North Suffolk.
Crowdy was the great-grandson of the temple’s founder, William S. Crowdy, whom followers regarded as a prophet. In 1903, the former runaway slave purchased 40 acres along Route 17 to build Belleville, a church and self-sufficient town for blacks.
After the funeral service, rows of similarly-dressed followers — men in brown suits, women wearing hats, blue shirts and black skirts — walked in unison to pay their respects to Crowdy.
The funeral comes just one day before the beginning of Passover, when 1,500 to 2,000 congregants from around the globe come to the home tabernacle in Suffolk to mark the holiday.
The religious organization has roughly 40 tabernacles in the United States, 250 in Africa and one in Jamaica.