Beginnings: the first international Noahide conference, 1990

A Brief History of the Beginnings
of the Modern-day Bnai Noach Movement

By Jack E. Saunders

In August of 1989, Vendyl Jones, the founder of the Institute of Judaic-Christian Research (now known as Vendyl Jones Research Institutes), consulted with the primary leading figures among those who, not too many years earlier, had begun to refer to themselves as B'nai Noach. He sent out a letter of appeal to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, leading rabbis, and Jewish scholars to recognize, to give aid, and to assist a fledging B'nai Noach Movement.

This appeal was first answered by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, then one of the two Chief Rabbis of Israel. With his blessing, on April 28-30, 1990, the First International Conference of the Descendants of Noah, B'nai Noach, was held at the Tarrant County Convention Center Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

There were several individuals who got involved in private meetings between the rabbis and representatives of the newborn B'nai Noach Movement. Several speakers addressed the group during the conference. In this section, I will mention only two of those who were deeply involved in several days of private meetings prior to the conference: Rabbi Michael Katz and Rabbi Menachem Burstin. The success of the conference owes a lot to the hard work and brilliance of these two men.

            Also see Report on 1990 B'Nai Noach Conference by Rabbi Michael Katz

Rabbi Burstin was sent from Jerusalem by Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu as his special representative. Rabbi Burstin kept Rabbi Eliyahu informed of events before, during, and after the conference, sending daily updates on the various developments in Forth Worth.

Rabbi Michael Katz was a great help in the behind-the-scenes discussions that took place for about a week before the conference.  His work with Rabbi Burstin, whose Hebrew was so much better than his English, was invaluable.

Above: Attendees at the First International Conference of Bnai Noach, at the Tarrant County Convention Center Arena in Fort Worth, Texas (April 28-30, 1990)

We count ourselves fortunate that we have a video record of at least a fraction of the conference - centering on an address by the late Rabbi Meir David Kahana (1932-1990). Rabbi Kahana - who spoke movingly and eloquently, as a true man of Torah, without a trace of the "firebrand extremism" that had been attributed to him - was murdered about six months later, in New York Coit, in New York City. His killers were some of the same criminal conspirators who first bombed the World Trade Center, prior to 9/11.

We have posted a copy of the video online [provide hyperlink when available].

On the last day of the conference, after many intense discussions between the rabbis and the Noahides, and among each group separately, we received a letter of blessing and encouragement from Rav Mordechai Eliyahu. This letter, coming from no less a personage than the Chief Rabbi himself, provided the fledgling Noachide movement with instant recognition, internationally.

We have provided a copy of this letter, and of the Noahides' response to it. Other historical documents are also included for your personal viewing. See beow:


Vendyl Jones' Letters of Appeal


The Chief Rabbi's Response in Hebrew with English Translation


The Children of Noah's letter of declaration to learn and practice the Seven Laws of Noah
in response to the Chief Rabbi's letter of Blessing and Encouragement.


Chief Rabbi's letter of Blessing and Encouragement


A Follow-Up Trip to Israel to see the Chief Rabbi

Articles in The Jerusalem Post (click here) regarding the trip

Check out: The Reappearance of God-Fearers in Our Time (click here) by Professor James D. Tabor

Report on 1990 B'Nai Noach Conference by Rabbi Michael Katz



[T] hese ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization,when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws; [W]ithout these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos....    
— Joint Resolution of the United States Congress (Public Law 102-14)     
March 20, 1991     

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