U.S. first lady Michelle Obama
U.S. first lady Michelle ObamaReuters

America has elected its first "Black Chief Rabbi," the International Israelite Board of Rabbis (IIBR) announced - and he is a cousin of First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Rabbi Capers Funnye, a Chicago-based convert to Judaism, is the first person to hold the position since Chief Rabbi Levi ben Levy died in 1999. 

"Rabbi Funnye’s work with Black Jews in the United States and Africa made him uniquely qualified for this position," the IIBR said. "His goal as Chief Rabbi is to build closer ties with the Ethiopian Jews community that was transplanted to Israel."

He has also met with both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama on several occasions. 

Funnye will assume his role as leader of the American organization for Black Jews, also known as Black Hebrew Israelites, in the fall.