Thursday, November 14, 2002

So, I've been reading this really cool book by Hillel Halkin, called Beyond the Sabbath River, about the search for the lost tribes of Israel. Many people have probably heard about the Falashas, from Ethiopia, but there are other examples of people who may have some Jewish heritage in Asia and Africa. Many people may have seen a documentary on the Lemba in Africa, a group in South Africa who claim descent from Yemeni Jews. Among those in Asia, the Karen, and the B'nei Menashe, which seems to be the major focus of Halkin's book.

I find this all very fascinating. I'm not exactly sure why. As much as I don't really like what the Israelis have been doing to the Palestinian people, the Israelis are conducting a very interesting social experiment. A Jew from Poland or Russia has to be culturally very different from a Falasha or even a Jew from North Africa. The whole idea of identity becomes somewhat malleable, I think. Or maybe identity is like an onion, in that there are layers of identity.


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