The American Converts Database

Rufus Lewis Perry

Dublin Core


Rufus Lewis Perry


Convert Item Type Metadata


Perry, Rufus Lewis (1867-1912)
Perry, Raphael (1912-)

Birth Date



Brooklyn, NY





Family Relations

Perry, Rufus Lewis (1834-1895) (father)




Biographical Text

Rufus Lewis Perry was an African American attorney who converted to Judaism in 1912. He was the son of the prominent Baptist minister Rufus Lewis Perry (ANB), the author of The Cushite, Or, The Descendants of Ham: As Found in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Writings of Ancient Historians and Poets from Noah to the Christian Era (1893).

Biographical Quotation

Rufus L. Perry, Brooklyn Law-
yer, Embraces Hebrew Faith.
Convert to Judaism Was Once
Assistant District Attorney
of Kings County.

Rufus Lewis Perry, probably the most prominent negro lawyer in this country, and who was an Assistant District Attorney in 1895, embraced the Jewish religion yesterday, after special ceremonies, conducted by the Rev. Solomon Scheiner, of No. 79 East 7th street, assisted by the Rev. L. Meisels, of No. 88 Lenox avenue. Mr. Perry has been a member of the Baptist Church all his life, but recently decided that the Jewish faith approached nearer to his religious ideals than the faith in which he had been baptized.

Simultaneously with his entrance into the Jewish religion Mr. Perry, through the courts, had his first name changed to Raphael. Following the ceremony at the home of Rabbi Scheiner a reception was held and supper was served, at which many men of prominence on the East Side were present.

When Mr. Perry was asked what had led him to embrace the Jewish faith he said: "I believe in the Jewish religion. I believe we will all be in Jerusalem eventually, and for months I have been studying the religion and considering the question of becoming a Jew."

Following the religious ceremony Mr. Perry signed his name to this declaration: "I, Rufus Lewis Perry, do hereby decide to accept the Jewish faith and abide by all its tenets."

Rufus Lewis Perry was born in Brooklyn May 26, 1867, the son of the Rev. R. L. Perry, who was at one time pastor of the Messiah Baptist Church, in Dean street, Brooklyn. In 1882 he graduated from Public School 68, and two years later from the high school. Entering New York University, he was graduated six years later with the degrees of A.B. and L.L. B.

From 1890 until 1892 he served in the law offices of Colonel Pryor, at No. 176 Broadway. Leaving there, he entered into partnership with Nestor A. Alexander, with offices in Temple Court, Brooklyn. In 1893 Mr. Perry was a candidate for the office of Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, but was defeated.

In June, 1895, Mr. Perry was prominently mentioned for the United States Consulship to Liberia, but President Cleveland did not believe he was old enough to occupy such an important position. Combined with his large criminal law practice Mr. Perry took an active interest in politics, making many speeches in the campaign of 1895.

In November, 1895, a petition was presented to District Attorney Ridgway, signed by every judge sitting in Brooklyn, asking that Perry be appointed to the office left vacant by the resignation of John McGuire, Assistant District Attorney of Kings County. He was given the place, and served until the end of that year. In recent years he has handled many large criminal cases, and is regarded as one of the most expert lawyers in that branch of the law. Mr. Perry lives in Brooklyn.


New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 05 Aug. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>




“Rufus Lewis Perry,” The American Converts Database, accessed January 16, 2019,

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