Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

Who is a Jew?

Hijacking Jewish Genealogy

Question: I have recently encountered a few individuals who claim that modern Jews are not the true Israelites. There is one group calling itself the Black Hebrews that claims that Ashkenazi Jews are not of Israel because they descend from converts; and that they cannot prove otherwise because the Romans destroyed all the lineage records in 70 C.E. Is there any truth in this? Are Ashkenazi Jews really of Israel?

Answer: While I admittedly know little of the beliefs of the “Black Hebrews”, anyone with the slightest knowledge of history shall surely place the burden of authenticity on them. The claim presented to you is really quite silly. For starters, what records of Jewish lineage are being alluded to? They certainly aren’t the records of Ashkenazi Jewry, for that did not begin until hundreds of years after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Both Jewish and gentile sources have ample data chronicling the migration of the Jewish people, and, following the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., much of the Diaspora was in Babylonia. From there, Jews migrated to Europe and North Africa.

Mind you, I am not negating the existence of true Black Jews (there are many living today in Israel, mostly from Ethiopia). However, the movement you speak of is suspect; while the truth of Jewish history is readily available in numerous places for anyone who cares to look.

On a final note, to claim that someone is not of Israel because they descend from converts is a terribly offensive statement to make about converts, and could not be further from the concept of converts as portrayed in the Torah.


R’ Daniel Fleksher

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