Photo credit: Shawn Castelluccio

Born from two African-American Orthodox Jewish parents, MaNishtana grew up Chabad-Lubavitch and hails on his mother’s side 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, and D La Reppublica–and has contributed to the Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet Magazine, and Hevria, among others.

In February 2018, MaNishtana earned his first Orthodox rabbinical ordination, and is currently earning his second. Since 2019, he has presented at several conferences, including BBYO, Limmud UK, Limmud Oz, ROI, and ELI Talks.

A graduate of Brooklyn College (BA, English & Secondary Education, 2005), MaNishtana is the author of three books on Jewish and African-American identity and has been a contributor to the The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and Their Grownups), the Tablet Magazine-published James Beard Award Nominee The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, and Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew, by James Beard Award Winner Michael Twitty.

MaNishtana married Gulienne Rollins-Rishon, a biracial Ashkenazi and Black American speaker and facilitator–and 14th-generation descendant of the 17th-century chief rabbi of Prague and Krakow, Tosafot Yom Tov–in May 2012. Their divorce was finalized in 2023. A lifelong New Yorker, MaNishtana is an alumnus of James Madison High School in Brooklyn (Class of 1999)–alongside such notable figures as Dmitry Salita, Bernie Sanders, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg–and the proud father of an adorably snarky daughter.


Punk Jews (2012), Himself

Doing Jewish: A Story From Ghana (2016), Himself

HuffPost Personal (2018), Himself

112 BK (2018), Himself

Shades of U.S. (2018), Himself

Dimension 20: The Unsleeping City, Chapter II (2020), Cultural Consultant

The New Jew (2021), Himself

List of Honors/Awards

“36 Under 36”, The Jewish Week (2014)

ROI Summit, cohort (2016)

Goldberg Award Finalist for Debut Fiction, “Ariel Samson, Freelance Rabbi“, National Jewish Book Awards (2018)

Kindle Top 50 Bestseller (Jewish American Fiction), Amazon (2018)

The 50 Jews Everyone Should Follow on Twitter, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (2019)

The Forward 50, Forward Magazine (2019)

J100, The Algemeiner (2020)

Prior Engagements

See here.