Hakham Yehonatan Elazar-DeMota was born in Miami, Florida, and comes from a Caribbean-Sepharadi family, via the Dominican Republic, Curação, Holland, and Iberia. He received his rabbinic and hazzanuth training initially under Hakham Yosef Benarroch (of blessed memory). Moreover, he is a certified shohet and mohel. He received rabbinic ordination from Hakham Mordekhay Levi de Lopes in 2008. In 2009, he moved to the Dominican Republic and established the Sepharadi Beth Midrash in Santo Domingo, also serving as the shohet of the community. In August 2014, he moved back to Miami to pursue graduate course work in religious studies at Florida International University. While there, he was part of Theta Alpha Kappa (honor's society for religious studies). He has spoken at numerous conferences around the world, including topics in population genetics, Jewish feminism, and Caribbean Sepharadi history. He has a Master Degree in Latin American and Sepharadi studies (2016). He was awarded departmental distinction for his thesis defense and grade point average. Apart from academia and rabbinics, he is an international jazz musician.
Since September 2016, Yehonatan is a PhD Candidate at the Asser Institute. His research project is entitled ‘Ets Haim and the Early Modern Amsterdam Debate on Trade and War with the non-European World’. It is part of the project ‘The Global City: Challenges, Trust and the Role of Law’, funded by the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds.