MIAMI -- Members of the Nation of Yahweh said Monday they added to their multimillion-dollar real estate holdings earlier this month with the acquisition of a $1.85 million motel that offers 'heavenly ambience.'
The group has purchased mostly commercial buildings, motels and apartments primarily in the Liberty City and northwest Miami area. The Sun City Motel in Sunny Isles is their first Miami Beach acquisition and biggest ever.
Reviews of the Yahweh acquisition by neighbors were mixed.
'They're OK, said Fred Tehranian, manager of the Beach Cove Motel. 'They're clean people, neat, they don't bother us. Actually, I kind of like them. There were hookers and drug dealers in there and they threw everybody out. Automatically they cleaned up the place.'
'They cleared out the pimps and drug dealers,' said Carl Allen, manager of the Pier House Inn. 'I have no problems with them.'
Rabbi Rubin R. Dobin, of Young Israel of Sunny Isles synagogue, said many older people feared the members.
'On the basis of many of their writings, on the basis of the quoted statements of their charismatic leader, I feel they have anti-Semitic tinges,' Dobin said. 'Of course, they have every right as every American citizen to buy property. As far as being an asset to the area or a detriment to the area, that remains to be seen.'
The Yahwehs, who wear white robes and carry 6-foot staffs, claim all of North Africa and Israel rightfully belongs to black Americans. They say they are Hebrews whose true language and culture is Hebrew.
Some Jews believe the group is anti-Semitic. Its leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh, denies it.
The motel, like other Yahweh properties, will be painted white with black trim, Ben Yahweh said. It has 107 rooms, including 58 kitchenettes and was purchased earlier this month, he said.
'We'll be offering services and amenities that practically no motel offers,' he said. 'We'll be making our guests very happy.'
He said prostitutes and drug dealers have been cleared out.
'We have a moral code that protects our guests from that,' he said. 'Our ambience is heavenly.'