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Lost tribe of Israel...
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PostPosted: 20-08-2004 16:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scarlett wrote:

Still confused though, which one is the religious identity then?

It is confusing, isn't it? Took me years to get my head around it. The best explanation I've heard is this:

The signs of Jewishness (the nation) and the signs of Judaism (the religion) are combined. The Star of David is a sign of Judaism the religion, but it's also a sign of the Jewish nation. A Catholic can be of any race, nation or people, but that separation between signs of religious identity and national identity does not exist for Jews.

The two identities, the religious and the national, combine in the concept of "ethnicity" in the same way that my ethnicity is that I was raised as a white Australian Catholic of Irish descent - not just Catholic, which is solely a religious identification. The concept of ethnicity subsumes both race and religion. Jewishness/Judaism is, properly, an ethnicity.

Probably muddier still. Wink It's one of those concepts that doesn't translate easily between cultures. The problem is compounded by the fact that we're standing outside the culture, trying to sort it by our own labels, distinct from the people born into the culture who know implicitly who they are.

I sympathise completely about the male focus in genetic studies. I used to refer to the Human Genome Project as the Rich White Anglo-Saxon Male Genome Project. Mad
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PostPosted: 23-08-2004 11:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I was working from the premise that 'Jewish' meant strictly the religion, not the actual nation (either the state of Israel or the persons of Jewish ancestry not resident in Israel). A friend of mine is a non-practising Jew, but describes himself as an Irish Jew. His allegiance is to Ireland but being a Jew is part of his ethnicity (origin). I define a 'nation' in the way many Irish people do, that if you are of Irish origin (by birth or ancestry) you are Irish, whether or not you live in Ireland or hold an Irish passport. The modern trendy term is 'Irish Diaspora'. But religion would not come into it, though it could be part of an individual's definition of their personal identity, rather than ethnicity. I am from a Catholic background myself, but go nuts when people use the term 'Roman Catholic' - I'm not Roman, I'm Irish!
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PostPosted: 23-08-2004 13:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scientists Back Inheritance of Jewish Priesthood Designation - a link to a report on the Cohens or rather, Cohanim. (scroll down)

One thing that has really confused me (and royally done my head in) recently is UK Law and Race & Religion. I had to attend a workshop recently that dealt with primarily, The Race Relations Act but touched on Diversity and other issues.

So we were told that Anti-Semitism is dealt with under the RRA 1976 & its amendment in 2000.

I was also informed during this course that after WWII (in order to offer some form of protection and prevent another Holocaust from occuring), Jewish Semites were considered under UK law to be a racial group and have racial identity.

Any discriminatory practice against the other major (or even minority) religions in this country such as Christianity and Islam are dealt with under the EU Human Rights Act.
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PostPosted: 23-08-2004 21:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scarlett, we seem to be using "nation" in the same sense - a body of people united by a common sense of identity, regardless of what country they live in or under what government. - Though to complicate matters, the symbols of the Jewish nation, which are also symbols of the religion of Judaism, also happen to be symbols of the state of Israel. Wink

Quixote, the legal distinctions are another layer of complexity again. How a government defines a group within its power and how that group defines itself are often quite different.
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PostPosted: 07-04-2005 18:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some other resources:

On the pop-culture side, weren't the humans in the original Battlestar Galactica supposed to be the remnants of the Lost Tribes who had fled into space ala Chariot of the Gods ?
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PostPosted: 07-04-2005 21:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought Battlestar Galactica had something to do with the Mormons?
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PostPosted: 07-04-2005 22:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quixote wrote:
...Jewish Semites were considered under UK law to be a racial group and have racial identity.

That seems a bit arse-about-face. Jews are a sub-group of Semites, as are Arabs, etc.

I believe the 'Semitic' name refers to the descendents of Shem, Noah's eldest son.

So you can't be a Jewish non-Semite!
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PostPosted: 08-04-2005 09:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

GNC wrote:
I thought Battlestar Galactica had something to do with the Mormons?

Indeed, Glenn A Larson is/was a practising Mormon. Which is why there were 12 colonies, 12 Battlestars, and a lost colony (Earth). Joseph Smith borrowed heavily from the Jewish tradition in that regard, and it all made it through into the TV show. Even the current version.
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 22-11-2006 13:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indians start new life in Israel

A Bnei Menashe synagogue in Manipur, India
About 50 Indians who were recognised as Jewish last year have arrived in Israel to start new lives there.
The immigrants are among some 6,000 Bnei Menashe tribes people from the north-eastern India states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim Jewish ancestry.

At least 150 more members of the tribe are expected in Israel later this week after receiving help in special educational centres on life in Israel.

The great majority of Bnei Menashe tribes people follow Christianity.

Some 800 Menashe Jews had moved to Israel some years ago, but emigration was then complicated after Israeli government officials said in 2003 that they did not regard the Menashe as being genuinely Jewish.

That led to the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar visiting north-eastern India to meet the Menashe who say they are descendents of one of the 10 tribes that was exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BC.

The chief rabbi ruled last year that they were indeed Jewish, thus clearing the way for them to emigrate to Israel.

The new arriving members were handed immigration cards at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday and taken to an absorption centre in northern Israel, the AFP news agency reports.

An Israeli organisation, Shavei Israel, has been running educational centres in India to prepare the community for life in Israel, teaching them Hebrew, Jewish rituals and traditions.

The organisation also lobbied the Israeli government to treat their immigration as a priority, AFP says.

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Great Old One
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PostPosted: 26-11-2006 18:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heer's another interesting take on lost Jewish tribes.

Arthur Koestler and the 13th Tribe........
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PostPosted: 14-12-2006 12:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Lost Tribe' returns to Israel
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Upper Nazareth Absorption Centre

Avior Kholhring in his new home

When Avior Kholhring stepped off a plane two weeks ago at Ben Gurion airport - close to Tel Aviv - he says that he finally came home.

Despite being the first time he has left his native India, the 35-year-old along with his wife and their three children always longed to live in Israel.

"This is the promised land," says Mr Kholhring. "And my heart is happy. I have finally fulfilled my dream."

Mr Kholhring and his family are members of Bnei Menashe, descendants of the tribe of Menashe - one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

The tribe are believed to have been expelled from Israel when the Assyrians invaded the country's northern kingdom in the 8th Century BC.

The community's oral tradition says that the tribe travelled through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet and China, before settling in north-east India.


In the last decade, over 1,000 members of the community came to Israel. But in 2003, the Israeli authorities froze the process after questioning the authenticity of the Bnei Menashe's Jewish claims.

I'm looking forward to spending the Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) as it should be observed

Dana Kholhring

Last month, however, four planeloads of 218 members of the 7,200-strong community still in India arrived in Israel. The youngest was a two-week-old baby and the oldest an 84-year-old woman.

"After facing so many obstacles and headaches along the way it was very moving to see the resumption of this blessed Aliyah (Jews immigrating to Israel)" says Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel organisation, which fought to bring the community to Israel.

Now, Mr Kholhring and his family, along with other members of the community, are living in the Upper Nazareth absorption centre - one of 33 Jewish Agency centres dotted round the country preparing new immigrants for life in Israel.

The concrete two-storey centre, set on a hill-side, houses 360 Jews from India, Ethiopia, Russia and Norway. It has views overlooking the historic city of Nazareth.

In Mr Kholhring's three-roomed apartment, the conditions are basic - a kitchen, iron beds, plastic seats, and glaring white walls with only a map of Israel and two drawings by his children for decoration.

Hebrew Lessons

But in spite of the sparseness, Mr Kholhring says he's very happy.

A Bnei Menashe synagogue back in Manipur, India

"It's like being a dorm student again," he says. "We've all got so much to learn."

The first two weeks have been spent opening bank accounts, preparing health insurance, and filling out forms to obtain an Israeli passport.

The community is also starting intensive Hebrew language lessons, something they realise is the key to their future success in Israel.

Children and young adults often assimilate quicker than their parents.

Arbi Khiangte, 21, for example, already speaks good Hebrew after language studies in India and is keen to study nursing at university.

Hot Food

She describes coming to Israel as "more than she expected" and showers praise on the authorities for making her journey possible.

Jewish children studying in Mizoram

But like all of the immigrants there is a lot to get use to.

"I don't like the cold winds," she says, as she shuts a window. "But I think the food is healthier here than in India: because it's kosher."

For all of the immigrants, Israel is their new home. Most have sold all their belongings in India - houses, furniture, lands - and they say it's unlikely they will ever return home.

Many like, Mr Kholhring say Israel offers them the opportunity to live like Jews and not be mocked for their faith as sometimes happened in India.

"I'm looking forward to spending the Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) as it should be observed," says Mr Kholhring's wife, Dana.

Mr Kholhring agrees adding that the absorption centre has given all the families an electrical hob that works on a timer.

It is forbidden for Jews to turn on electrical appliances during the Jewish Sabbath.

"Now I'll be able to eat hot food on the Shabbat," he says. "In India, it was always cold."

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PostPosted: 15-12-2006 08:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating thread!

I've always wondered why a person's "Jewishness" depends solely on the mother being Jewish. I mean, yes, I understand that before DNA tests came along, it was a whole lot easier to be certain of a child's maternal descent than of the father's identity.

I wonder if things will change now that we do have DNA that can prove whether or not a man is the father of any given child??

And frankly it makes me wonder if this doesn't imply that Jewish men (or at least the ones who decide these kinds of things) aren't kind of insulting their own women? It sounds like they don't trust their women to be faithful wives, therefore they won't accept as Jewish a child who has a Jewish father but a Gentile mother. In most cultures it's generally assumed (I admit, sometimes wrongly!) that the husband of a woman who gives birth is the father of her child. I wonder why that isn't the case in Judaism??

I'm not trying to criticize Jewish people or their customs here, it's just that this question has always stumped me!!

I have a friend who was born to a Jewish father and a Christian (Gentile) mother. My friend (Kate) and her sister were raised in both traditions: i.e. they attended temple with their dad on the Jewish Sabbath, and the next day went to church with their mom. They celebrated both Christmas and Hannukah, etc.

When Kate became an adult she chose to become a Christian. Still, she is rightly very proud of her Jewish heritage. Before his death her dad gave her the family menorah, which she cherishes. And yes, she plans (as always!) to celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah this month (she even decorates her Christmas tree in blue and white LOL! Or is it blue and silver??? Embarassed Anyway, clearly I'm showing my ignorance here, but as you can see, Kate considers herself as much a Jew as a Christian.)

Yet apparently the state of Israel (and Jewish law) would say that Kate is not Jewish because it was her father who was Jewish, not her mom.

I honestly can't see what difference that makes!? confused
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PostPosted: 17-12-2006 16:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the idea of what constitutes 'Jewishness' is very muddled because you can be ethnically and culturally very Jewish without being religious or you can be a gentile convert to the religion of Judaism. At the end of the day the Nazis killed many German Jews who were fully assimilated and had no link to Judaism other than being Jews according to what aryan philosophy dictated was physically 'Jewish'.

Judaism is not like other religions or ethnicities because, as an earlier poster said, it crosses both of these categories. You can claim you aren't Jewish (if you define this as being religiously Jewish) but if a racist or Ku Klux Klan member wants to see you as Jewish they will find a way of doing this and more often than not, it is non-Jews who resort to highlighting the ethnic aspect of whether a person is Jewish so that they can conclude that an individuals (bad) behaviour must be because they are (ethnically) Jewish, even if said individual has no experience of the religious aspects of Judaism which may dictate (seemingly 'negative') behaviour (such as being choosy about what foods you eat, being antisocial on the Sabbath etc).

With regard to the question posed by another poster, I think it makes total sense to judge Jewishness according to the maternal line. You can't always be sure of who the father of a child is, but you can almost always (and especially in ancient times) be sure of who the mother is. This is the way in which Judaism and the Jewish lineage has managed to keep itself intact throughout years of persecution (where many Jewish women were raped by non-Jews) and keep the gene pool fairly homogenous although this does create disadvantages such as maintaining diseases that are very common within ethnically Jewish populations such as Tay Sachs and diabetes.
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PostPosted: 17-07-2007 14:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eritrea's last Jew nostalgic for past community by Peter Martell
Fri Jul 13, 12:11 PM ET

The old wooden benches in Asmara's only synagogue have long been vacant, but Samy Cohen still remembers where every person sat.

"My father Menahem Cohen was sitting here, and here, another uncle, the brother of my mother," he says, pointing to the empty seats, his footsteps echoing in the candlelit building.

When 60-year-old Cohen was growing up in the 1950s in this small Horn of Africa nation, Asmara boasted a vibrant resident Jewish community of about 500 people.

Today, he is the last Jew native to Eritrea left here.

Most came as traders from across Europe and the Middle East, who then emigrated from Yemen at the turn of the last century, hoping to cash in on the opportunity offered by Italy's colonisation of this nation bordering the Red Sea.

"In almost all periods there is a fair amount of migration of Jewish communities to places where there are opportunities," said Menahem Kanafi, Israel's ambassador to Eritrea.

"In lots of cases, Jews in Arab countries saw a possibility of living here, not under oppressive conditions, and of making a life for themselves."

But the community -- unrelated to the much older native Jewish population in neighbouring Ethiopia, where thousands still remain despite mass relocations to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s -- has faded away.

Though many Eritrean Jews left for Israel when it gained independence in 1948, a 30-year independence war against arch-foe Ethiopia beginning in the 1960s and the decline of the economy pushed even more of the community to leave for greener pastures in Europe or Israel.

Cohen now rarely manages to gather the 10 people required to perform many Jewish ceremonies, and must care for the 100-year old synagogue alone. The last bar mitzvahs and weddings were celebrated there in the 1970s.

"There are business people who come and go, and the staff at the Israeli embassy, but a continuing Jewish community here is not really a hope for the future," Kanafi added.

Officially, Eritrea's 4.2 million population is equally divided between Christians and Muslims, and Jews were always a small minority here.

Although human rights groups now regularly accuse the government of persecution of minority religious groups, Eritrean Jews say their community has always lived in harmony with the local population and its government.

Residents now living around the synagogue in houses once occupied by the Jewish community, close to both the city's main mosque as well as several churches, stress that Eritreans of different beliefs have long lived peacefully side-by-side -- as compared to Ethiopia where Jews say politics fanned anti-Semitiism in a country with a proud Christian Orthodox tradition and where Jews had long been a target of missionaries.

"There is no problem between the religions in Asmara," said one old man, dressed in a neat white skull cap and drinking coffee on a shady side street beside the synagogue.

"As people, we Eritreans tolerate each other, be they Muslim like me, Christian or Jewish."

Cohen has nothing but happy memories of growing up in Asmara, busy with weddings, bar mitzvahs and other ceremonies.

"That was a very enthusiastic life and many children, many parties, all of us going to the Italian schools in the morning, all together in one car," Cohen said.

"All the people would come here, and during holy days, it was sometimes even hard to find a place to sit," he added.

The old schoolhouse beside the synagogue, once the hub of a busy Jewish community, is now a small museum full of old photographs.

"There are so many memories here for me," Cohen said. "Now it is very different, but I remember the good times with my friends here of the past."

Walking slowly among the graves covered in purple flowers in the Jewish cemetery on a hilltop overlooking the city, Cohen's affection for Eritrea is clear, but he finds his reason for staying harder to put into words.

"I am tied to this place, it is not simple to explain," Cohen added, whose wife and daughters left for Italy in 1998 when fighting broke out with Ethiopia in a bloody two-year border war.

"But we should be always optimists: if there are not enough to pray here, then we can pray in other places -- Tel Aviv, London or Rome -- where other members of the Asmara community live now."
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PostPosted: 26-08-2007 05:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Biblical Tribe of Dan was most likely one of the invading Sea Peoples that caused so much destruction to the area around 1200 BC. The Mycenaean and Minoan cultures were destroyed, the Trojan War was probably a story of the invasion, and the Philistines were probably the refugees of Crete. In the Song Of Deborah the Judge asks 'Dan, why did you remain in your ships?' So it is possible that the Danes could be related to the tribe of Dan. The name Dan is used throughout Europe, the rivers Danube, Dnister, Dneiper, the Tuatha De Danann of Ireland, Achilles' tribe in the Illiad. It seems to be a sacred name in ancient Europe. So I doubt very much if the Ethiopians could be related to ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem from the tribe of Dan. Although around 700 BC Ethiopians did invade Egypt and traded with Jerusalem.

Around 300 BC Alexander invaded Canaan and destroyed many Phoenician cities, scattering the people and toppling their gods. Because of their history with the Persians he felt that he could not trust them to remain loyal to him while he marched eastward. He was concerned about his supply lines. Many of these folks converted to Judaism. Then about 100 years later Rome destroyed the Phoenician city of Carthage, once again scattering the people and causing them, as well as their cities in Spain to convert to Judaism. Judaism was the last remaining cultural tie of these Semitic people. Although the Jews in Spain and North Africa in classical times were Semites they don't seem to be the offspring of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. It really doesn't seem so mysterious to me. But it's a great story and a wonderful work of literature.
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