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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Black-Hat Black Rapper Ties the Knot in Double Wedding

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Nissim Black, formerly known as D-Black, now is a full-fledged Orthodox Jew, along with his wife

Nissim Black, formerly known as D-Black, now is a full-fledged Orthodox Jew, along with his wife
Photo Credit: Photo: Breslov website

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A former black hip-hop rapper has completed, along with his wife, the conversion as Orthodox Jews and married – along with another black couple who converted- under the chupah in Seattle. The ceremony took place in March but has not been widely reported until now.

“D-Black” used to rap about the violence, gang activity and drugs of his African-American ’hood and now he is Nissim Black, who attends a Sephardi synagogue in Seattle and writes songs that he describes as rap/urban alternative that “speak a message of hope and inspiration.”

The shift in his musical message will be on full display with his new album, Nissim, due for release July 16.

The changes in his personal life were underscored earlier this year, when the 26-year-old musician was one of two grooms in a double Jewish wedding ceremony that became a community-wide project.

The story starts in 2008. Newlywed with an infant girl and then called Damian Black, he found himself at a crossroad after a friend was shot and killed at a nightclub where Black had been performing. Soon after, he lost his day job working with autistic children.

“I had a ton of questions and no answers,” Black recalls. There were questions about “religion, about God, about Christianity, about why aren’t Christians Jewish if Jesus was Jewish.”

Black began researching religion, reading about the Torah and begging his wife, Jamie, to study with him.

“We almost got a divorce,” he says. “We didn’t see eye to eye.”

But, the more she read, the more she, too, found herself attracted to Judaism, ultimately taking the Hebrew name Adina. “If this is something that can give me answers, I wanted it,” she says, adding that she felt like Judaism, unlike Christianity, welcomed questions. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Adina began urging her younger sister  and best friend Sheree to study with them. Nissim and Sheree together pulled in Bradley Brown, Black’s close friend since kindergarten, fellow musician and Sheree’s future husband. They, too, have taken Hebrew names, Chana and Yosef.

By 2010, the two couples — each with two young children — had moved to an Orthodox enclave in Seattle’s Seward Park and were studying for conversion at Sephardic Bikur Cholim Congregation. Their conversions were finalized with visits to the mikveh, ritual bath, on Feb. 27. As is traditional with a conversion at the congregation involving someone already married, a Jewish wedding ceremony was next.

That’s when the four of them came under the wing of congregant Beth Balkany, who was determined to make the couples Jewish wedding celebrations they wouldn’t forget.

Under Balkany’s direction the double wedding became a community project. Through the local bridal “gemach,” a lending resource, she found gowns that required just hems for each of the women. Nissim and Yosef provided a playlist for the DJ. A couple getting married the previous day donated their flowers. The caterer donated his time,  and the photographer did the same.

Someone contributed money for a videographer; someone else makeup for the brides.

Balkany pulled off a sit-down dinner for 170 people, and Rabbi Simon Benzaquen officiated at the two separate ceremonies, with his wife, Cecilia, walking each bride down the aisle.

The guests came not only from their congregation, but also from Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath, the Seattle Kollel and Ezra Bessaroth, Seattle’s other Sephardic synagogue.

“We had no idea that it was going to be as big and as fabulous as it was,” Adina says.

Her sister Chana added, “The love you felt in the room – it was just amazing.”

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30 Responses to “Black-Hat Black Rapper Ties the Knot in Double Wedding”

  1. Ruth Frier says:

    Good luck to the newest members of the 'Tribe'.

  2. Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!
    May you merit to build a lasting edifice in Israel.

  3. Elisheva Linietsky says:

    Such a nice story. Thanks Jewish Press.

  4. Elisheva Linietsky says:

    Such a nice story. Thanks Jewish Press.

  5. Miriam Mozyrsky says:

    nice, thanks for posting

  6. Grace Acosta says:

    Mazel Tov! They are such a sweet family, a real asset to Seattle. I'm proud to know them.

  7. Avi Kraft says:

    mazel tov to all of you on your marriage ton each pother and your marriage to Judaism.

  8. Welcome to the j-club!

  9. Andrea Leib says:

    Nice story x thanks

  10. Anonymous says:

    What an incredible alternative to someone like Kanye West, whose lyrics are X-rated, racist, pornographic, and misogynist. (Check out the lyrics to his newest album online, if you can stomach them. They're nauseous!) And he's the biggest celebrity in the U.S. with such widespread influence, especially on young people. Maybe Nissim could contact Kanye and help him get on the proper derech! What a Kiddush Hashem that would be!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It's shameful that the Jewish Press did not properly credit this article to the proper writer and JTA source: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/20/life-religion/double-wedding-in-seattle-caps-rappers-transformation.

  12. Mazel Tov to both couples, may you have a long and happy life together.

  13. Ananiyah Dunlap says:

    Inspirational story! Mazel tov!

  14. Eileen Yaffa Neu says:

    MAZEL TOV only the best to all of you. Welcome to the family

  15. Eileen Yaffa Neu says:

    MAZEL TOV only the best to all of you. Welcome to the family

  16. Eileen Yaffa Neu says:

    MAZEL TOV only the best to all of you. Welcome to the family

  17. Мазел Тов!

  18. Elie Estrin says:

    He's a really great guy – Nissim Baruch Ben Avraham, meet Moshe Yankovsky – an INCREDIBLE drummer/percussionist!

  19. Kieran Ross says:

    "Orthodox Jews come in all shapes, colors, ethnicities, and nationalities.".

  20. So nice! I'd love to be able to contact them and wish them a mazal tov directly!

  21. Glen Poyer-Hunte says:

    Was there a need to mention that he is Black? It is a bit obvious…..

  22. Aaron Vashon says:

    Ditto !

  23. Aaron Vashon says:

    Yes we do ! :)

  24. Rachel Abrams Eisenberg says:

    How Orthodox is this? I thought we are not allowed to have a "double simcha?"

  25. Thank you, brother!

  26. Shoshana Rose says:

    it seems there were separate chuppahs

  27. Shoshana Rose says:

    it seems there were separate chuppahs

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