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India's Lost Tribe Recognized As Jews After 2,700 Years
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 9-17-2005 | Peter Foster

Posted on 09/16/2005 5:56:52 PM PDT by blam

India's lost tribe recognised as Jews after 2,700 years

By Peter Foster in Aizawl
(Filed: 17/09/2005)

With a cry of "Mazeltov" and a Rabbi's congratulatory handshake, hundreds of tribal people from India's north-east were formally converted to Judaism this week after being recognised as descendants of the 10 Lost Tribes exiled from Israel 2,700 years ago.

A rabbinical court, dispatched with the blessing of Israel's Chief Rabbi, travelled 3,500 miles to Mizoram on India's border with Burma to perform the conversions using a Mikvah - ritual bath - built specially for the purpose.

There were emotional scenes as the Oriental-looking hill people professed their faith, repeating the oath from Deuteronomy: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One."

Over the next five years up to 7,000 members of the Bnei Menashe are expected to emigrate to Israel after years of pleading their case were met with official recognition.

Since the 1950s a small group of tribal people, who live in the jungle-clad hills that straddle Burma, India and Bangladesh, have claimed descent from the Lost Tribe of Menasseh, the remnants of which are said to have found their way to China, Thailand and north-eastern India.

Their claims gathered force in the 1980s when amateur anthropological studies purported to have discovered similarities between their ancient animist rituals and those of Old Testament Judaism.

Although the claims are still treated with great scepticism by Mizoram's majority Christian population - and have never been examined by professional anthropologists - the Bnei Menashe are unshakeable in their belief.

"This is the greatest day of our lives, a wonderful new life is now beginning for us," said Pe'er Tlau who, along with his wife and three sons, plans to emigrate to Israel as soon as formalities allow.

Mr Tlau, an electronics engineer whose father fought for the British during the Burma Campaign, successfully proved his Jewish credentials before the rabbinical court, answering detailed questions on Jewish rituals and observance.

Later, after all the male converts had shown they were properly circumcised, the families immersed themselves, naked, in the Mikvah constructed with the help of detailed plans sent from Israel.

Twice they dipped beneath the ice-cold water, each time receiving the blessing of Rabbi Moshe Klein, a senior member of the conversion authority attached to the office of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. The recognition of the Bnei Menashe by the Chief Rabbinate was achieved after a decade of lobbying by a Jerusalem-based group, Shavei Israel, which dedicates itself to finding Israel's scattered tribes and returning them to Israel.

Michael Freund, the group's chairman, said he believed the conversions had closed the circle on almost 3,000 years of history as the Mizo Jews were now able to exercise their right of return to the Promised Land.

Not everyone in Mizoram is as convinced as Mr Freund, however. Where he sees "deep and extensive commonalities" between ancient Judaism and Mizo tribalism, others see Zionist ambition and plenty of wishful thinking.

Local historians point out that the Mizo tribes were animists whose oral history and tradition was lost forever when the Welsh Presbyterian missionaries arrived in Mizoram in the late 1890s.

Dr P C Biaksiama, a former civil servant and academic who has published several books on Mizo Christianity, says the similarities have been ''discovered'' by a people who desperately want to attach importance to their lost ancestry.

"This claim to be Jewish is just a fantasy created by some 1980s revisionism - and the people's exposure to the Old Testament. What they describe as 'similarities' are simply common tribal practices, nothing more," he said.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 2700; after; archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; indias; jews; lost; losttribes; menashe; nuts; recognized; simchajacobovici; tenlosttribes; tribe; years
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1 posted on 09/16/2005 5:56:59 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

Glad to be back.

2 posted on 09/16/2005 5:58:38 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Has DNA testing been done here?


3 posted on 09/16/2005 6:00:52 PM PDT by shuckmaster
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To: blam
"Mr Tlau, an electronics engineer whose father fought for the British during the Burma Campaign, successfully proved his Jewish credentials before the rabbinical court, answering detailed questions on Jewish rituals and observance."

Since they claim to be of the tribe Mannessa, then they cannot have Jewish credentials. They cannot be Jewish, only Israeli.
4 posted on 09/16/2005 6:03:34 PM PDT by Prost1 (New AG, Berger is still free, copped a plea! I still get my news from FR!)
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To: blam
"This claim to be Jewish is just a fantasy created by some 1980s revisionism - and the people's exposure to the Old Testament. What they describe as 'similarities' are simply common tribal practices, nothing more," he said.

Maybe, maybe not. However, they have now also gone through the process of conversion to Judaism. So whether or not they are the genetic descendants of the Tribe of Menasseh, they are now spiritually Jewish -- one could even say the spiritual descends of the Tribe of Menasseh.

5 posted on 09/16/2005 6:04:11 PM PDT by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: blam

Hmmm. They don't look like American Indians or white northern Europeans!

What about the Pushtuns of Pakastan? Even Kipling noted their "traditions" such as circumcision looked extremely Jewish.


6 posted on 09/16/2005 6:04:51 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (ISLAM. The religion of the criminally insane.)
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To: blam

Interesting. Lost tribes of Israel and a branch of the Aryans both ended up in India.


7 posted on 09/16/2005 6:08:03 PM PDT by putupjob
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To: blam
There were emotional scenes as the Oriental-looking hill people professed their faith, repeating the oath from Deuteronomy: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One."

They look Chinese, have Indian citizenship, and are now Jewish. That locks up medical school admissions for the next 20 years.

8 posted on 09/16/2005 6:10:40 PM PDT by Ukiapah Heep (Shoes for Industry!)
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To: shuckmaster

DNA testing would be very interesting to apply to this, but I'm sure that if a simple 'mouth swab' for Jewishness was ever developed and marketed it'd open up several cans of worms.


9 posted on 09/16/2005 6:14:20 PM PDT by cambridge
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To: shuckmaster
"Has DNA testing been done here?"

Don't know.

10 posted on 09/16/2005 6:15:11 PM PDT by blam
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To: cambridge
but I'm sure that if a simple 'mouth swab' for Jewishness was ever developed and marketed it'd open up several cans of worms.

Osama bin Ladenstein...

11 posted on 09/16/2005 6:24:05 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: blam
"This claim to be Jewish is just a fantasy created by some 1980s revisionism - and the people's exposure to the Old Testament. What they describe as 'similarities' are simply common tribal practices, nothing more," he said.

Maybe, but there is a tribe in Uzbekistan which is clearly Jewish, and no ties are claimed by the people, nor is there any desire on their part to immigrate to Israel.
12 posted on 09/16/2005 6:32:25 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
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To: shuckmaster

I recall that DNA testing was done about a year or so ago on these people and it was conclusive.


13 posted on 09/16/2005 6:40:51 PM PDT by Rabid Dog
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To: shuckmaster; blam

I recall that DNA testing was done about a year or so ago on these people and it was conclusive.


14 posted on 09/16/2005 6:41:43 PM PDT by Rabid Dog
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To: shuckmaster; blam

Just did a little internet research and it appears that DNA tests were done in 2003, they were deemed inconclusive, soon controversy erupted over the validity of the testing, and it is now quagmired.


15 posted on 09/16/2005 6:51:29 PM PDT by Rabid Dog
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To: Prost1
"Since they claim to be of the tribe Mannessa, then they cannot have Jewish credentials. They cannot be Jewish, only Israeli."

Gen 13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Indeed of one of the tribes. And soon they begin coming home. Shabbot Shalom

16 posted on 09/16/2005 6:55:42 PM PDT by patriot_wes (papal infallibility - a proud tradition since 1869)
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To: Rabid Dog

As they have undergone full conversion to Judaism, there is no reason to worry about DNA.

Typical DNA tests trace the father's lineage only. Testing the female side is more complex and less conclusive.

Jewishness requires a Jewish mother (not just Jewish descent) or a conversion process.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4400957.stm

In the 1970s, when the Bible was translated into the local language, similarities with the customs and practices of Israeli people were noticed, Bnei Menashe members say.

A researcher of the Mizo tribe, Zaithanchuungi, developed the lost-tribe claims in 1981 and presented papers to various seminars in Israel.

Some Israeli groups like the Amishav, now known as Shavei, which helps Jews move to Israel, supported the claim and says it has brought 800 people from the Bnei Menashe to Israel.

Other Israeli groups have dismissed the claim as "historically untenable." DNA studies at the Central Forensic Institute in Calcutta suggest that while the masculine side of the tribes bears no links to Israel, the feminine side suggests a genetic profile with Middle Eastern people that may have arisen through inter-marriage.


17 posted on 09/16/2005 6:58:40 PM PDT by SeriousSassy
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To: SeriousSassy

You aren't a science nut are you? Mitochondrial DNA?


18 posted on 09/16/2005 7:30:48 PM PDT by Rabid Dog
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To: blam

Sure, typical liberals, trying to spoil all the fun by blaming the Welsh Presbyterians and the eeeeeeevil Zionists!

Good luck to these folks.


19 posted on 09/16/2005 7:30:48 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: okie01

Exactly, among other things. I recall DNA research linking Palestinians to Israelis:
http://www.khazaria.com/genetics/abstracts.html
[Which also contains this interesting line : "Many Spanish-speaking Latinos of the American Southwest are descended from Anusim (Spanish Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism)"]


20 posted on 09/16/2005 8:09:02 PM PDT by cambridge
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