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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Ashkenazi Jews’

Study Finds No Evidence of Khazar Origin for Ashkenazi Jews

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Doron M. Behar of Rambam Health Care Campus, Israel, Mait Metspalu and Bayazit Yunusbayev of Estonian Biocentre, Evolutionary Biology Group, Estonia, Yael Baran and Naama M. Kopelman of Tel-Aviv University, Israel, and several other scientists, have recently published a study suggesting there is no evidence from genome-wide data of a Khazar origin for Ashkenazi Jews.

The Khazars were a Turkic nation whose semi-nomadic empire stretched from Southern Russia to the Caucasus mountains, and from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. There is a tradition that, in the 8th or 9th centuries, their king converted to Judaism.

In the late 19th century, Ernest Renan and others proposed that the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe had fled from Khazaria. This theory has been used by antisemites to suggest that European Jews stem from a barbaric Asiatic race, and to disprove their ancestral connection to the land of Israel.

Only a year ago, many enemies of the Zionist success story, both Jews and gentiles, rejoiced in the findinggs of a Dr. Eran Elhaik, a half-Italian, half-Iranian Israeli Jew, a molecular geneticist working for the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, that “the dominant element in the genetic makeup of European Jews is Khazar. Among Central European Jews, this makes up the largest part of their genome, 38%. For East European Jews it does the same, at 30%.”

The only thing missing for Dr. Elhik’s work to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jews are actually Khazars, is the fact that there are no Khazars out there. There are only folks who live nowadays where there may have been Khazars 1200 years ago.

So, in the absence of genetic data for the long-lost Khazars themselves, Elhaik used data from populations living there now: Georgians, Armenians and Caucasians.

“When doing so Elhaik discovered what he calls the Khazar component of European Jewry,” concluded the news reports in January, 2013.

In short, Elhaik says he has proven that Ashkenazi Jews came from the Caucasus, not the Middle East. And the obvious conclusion is: kindly pack your bags and move on to your real homeland.

Naturally, one of Elhaik’s biggest supporters was Shlomo Sand, who teaches his own kind of history at Tel Aviv University, and wrote the bizarre book “The Invention of the Jewish People.” Sand said the study vindicated his long-held ideas.

”It’s so obvious for me,” Sand said in an interview. “Some people, historians and even scientists, turn a blind eye to the truth. Once, to say Jews were a race was anti-Semitic, now to say they’re not a race is anti-Semitic. It’s crazy how history plays with us.”

So now, not for the first time, a new study, available here, the work of a large group of scientists, finds once again that the Khazar theory is baseless, driven, like Prof. Sand, by a burning desire to invalidate the Jewish Zionist narrative. The new study also clears, once and for all, hopefully, the popular confusion regarding the possibility of there being a unique Khazar race that woke up one morning, declared itself Jewish and moved on to settle in Germany.

“The origin and history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population have long been of great interest, and advances in high-throughput genetic analysis have recently provided a new approach for investigating these topics,” states the study’s abstract. “We and others have argued on the basis of genome-wide data that the Ashkenazi Jewish population derives its ancestry from a combination of sources tracing to both Europe and the Middle East.

“It has been claimed, however, through a reanalysis of some of our data, that a large part of the ancestry of the Ashkenazi population originates with the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking group that lived to the north of the Caucasus region roughly 1,000 years ago. Because the Khazar population has left no obvious modern descendants that could enable a clear test for a contribution to Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, the Khazar hypothesis has been difficult to examine using genetics.”

Livni, Bennett Back Bill to Pretend Jews Need Only One Chief Rabbi

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jewish Home chairman and Minister for Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett unveiled the outline Monday morning of their new bill to eliminate the system of a two-headed Chief Rabbinate and replace it with “one rabbi for one people.”

Modern Israel always has had two chief rabbis, one for the Ashkenazi community and one for the Sephardi community. Each community has vastly different traditions and different rulings on Jewish laws. Within each community there are several sub-cultures. There are “Yechi” Ashkenazi Jews. There are many different Chassidic sects, and there are “Litvak,” Misnagim,” Lubavitch-Chabad, Ger, Neturei Karta, Vishnitz and a host of others.

In Israel, there is no lack of different synagogues representing the origin of their worshippers’ families. There are Iraqi, Iranian (Parsi), Egyptian and Yemenite synagogues, to mention a few.

Livni, who is secular, and Bennett, who is modern Orthodox, each believe that one chief rabbi is enough for everyone,

Their bill would clear the way for a single chief rabbi in 10 years, when the next election will take place. Three months ago, Haredi Rabbi David Lau defeated national religious Rabbi David Stav to head the Ashkenazi rabbinate. Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef was elected Chief Sephardi Rabbi.

Both of the new chief rabbis are sons of two of the most popular men ever to serve as chief rabbi – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was highly controversial among those outside of Sephardi circles. Each man is a legend, and the thought of a single chief rabbi would have been unthinkable under their charismatic leadership.

Livni and Bennett insist they are not retrying to blur the lines of tradition. A single rabbi undoubtedly would save money, but finance is not part of their agenda.

“There is one prime minister, one president, one supreme court and one IDF Chief of Staff,” Livni said. The time has come that there should be one rabbi for one people, The time has some that Israel has one chief rabbi to unite all segments of Israeli society, [The time has come for] a rabbinate that will serve all religious sectors instead of a county that retains the separation of communities. It is possible to respect tradition in the house without separating religious authority,” she said.

Bennett chimed in, “This [bill] is an important step that symbolizes unity. The appointment of one rabbi is one of those subjects that raises the question, ‘Why wasn’t it done sooner?’ Today, when an Ashkenazi and Sephardi marry, there not two rabbis. Today, there is one army, and there are no separate positions for Ashkenazim or Sephardim.”

The idea sound so nice. All of the People of Israel will unite together, holding hands, dancing the hora and embracing each other with whole-hearted acceptance as a person and not as a “Sephardi” or “Ashkenazi.” Peace and love all wrapped up in a stewing pot of melted Jews.

Judaism has survived and blossomed since the 12 Tribes of Yaakov (Jacob) because of their unity as Jews and differences of character, personality and customs.

“One rabbi for one people” would discourage diversity. Obviously, a single chief rabbi would be an expert in different customs and would not issue a ruling that would violate a community’s customs. Sephardim would not be told to give up “kitniyot” for Passover and Ashkenazim would not start rising before dawn to recite Selichot prayers during the entire Hebrew month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah.

Regardless of whatever merits there may be to the bill, and despite probable enthusiasm from Israel’s leading secular media, the bill will have tough going.

Overcoming centuries of tradition in one Knesset session is a bit too much for Livni, the darling of dwindling leftist-center secular Israelis who did not vote for Yair Lapid and a villain to national religious Jews, including Bennett except for the one-rabbi bill. Bennett is riding a wave of secular support for his Jewish Home party, the inheritor of the old Mafdal crowd.

If the bill gets to the Knesset floor, it will provide lots of colorful copy for journalists. Shas will go berserk, and the United Torah Judaism party of Haredi Ashkenazi Jews will be able to sue Bennett for Livni for causing them a collective heart attack, God forbid.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Left a Kosher Empire

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Overlooked in the eulogies and praise of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is the role he played in the development of the kosher certification, Badatz Beit Yosef, under the leadership of his youngest son Rabbi Moshe Yosef.

The Beit Yosef kosher standard meticulously follows the standards of Rabbi Yosef Caro, the author of the codification of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch.

The Beit Yosef certification is widely used amongst Sephardic and other Jews, and an estimated 70 percent of Israeli restaurants follow the Bet Yosef standard as do many eating establishments in France and several in the United States.

In one of his weekly broadcasts, Rabbi Ovadia lamented that some were abusing the Beit Yosef standard, so coveted by Sephardi Jews and not as widely accepted by Ashkenazi Jews.

Rav Ovadia: I Love Knitted-Yarmulke Jews – But Not their MKs

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Shas party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Saturday night he really loves knitted-kippa Jews,” but it’s just their political leaders who are “Amalek” – the eternal enemy of Jews.

The national religious community in Israel now can breathe easier and know that Rav Ovadia really loves them.

Sure, the distinguished  rabbi said last month that national religious Chief Rabbinate candidate Rabbi David Stav is “evil” and an “enemy to Judaism,” but, heck, that was just meant to cheer up Shas’ favorite clientele, the dwindling Sephardi community that still feels oppressed by the elite Ashkenazi community. Indeed they are, but they are equally oppressed by their own leaders. So what better way to keep the common people in line by telling them that the Rabbi really loves Jews, even those who wear a knitted kippa.

But what about Shas Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who said in a sermon a week ago that “as long as there are knit kippot, the [divine] throne is not whole?  That’s Amalek. When will the throne be whole? When there is no knit kippa.”

If a listener thought Rabbi Cohen, who is a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, meant that knitted-kippa Jews are Amalek, he did not understand correctly God forbid he should say such a thing.

Rav Ovadia, who sat silently on the podium as Rabbi Cohen spoke, knows exactly what he really meant.

Sure, Rabbi Cohen said some things against” those rebellious national religious Jews with knitted kippot, but he was only referring to their political leaders, opined Rav Ovadia.

Love, love, love, he said. Love for everyone – with one small exception. It is the political leaders of the knitted-kippa crowd who are problematic.

They not only are problematic. They are the true Amalek, Israel’s eternal enemy dating back to the days of  the Exodus from Egypt.

And who is the real knitted-kippa modern Amalek  of the Jews? None other than Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party, which, unlike Shas, took the daring move in the last elections to  welcome secular Jews as Knesset Members and put the emphasis on nationalist instead of religious.

Rav Ovadia has his grounds for considering Bennett Amalek.

The Jewish Home party is against exempting Haredi youth from IDF service forever. That means that Shas yeshivas would have less youth learning , or at least registered as learning, in their institutions,

If there are less students, there is less money from donors, especially from the Israeli taxpayer whose hard-earned money has been going into black-hat yeshivas for years with the payback that the future Torah scholars and eternal voters for Shas are defending the nation by learning Torah, even if they are just listed as learning and actually working or stashing home.

Now that Rav Ovadia has explained  Rabbi Cohen and has mended ties with the national religious community, except for those enemies of Jews like Bennett, Israel is ready for Tu B’Av, which begins Sunday night.

The Talmud lists it along with Yom Kippur as the most joyous days of the year when, according to the Talmud, that the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards and said, “Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” Tu B’Av is the same day of the 40th yearin the desert when the ban was lifted on female orphans marrying into another tribe.

It is the perfect day for a daughter of a Shas rabbi to become engaged to the son of a national religious politician.

And God willing, Rabbi Cohen and Rav Ovadia will perform the marriage ceremony.

Next Israel Shekel Bills to Feature Sephardi Jew

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Netanyahu government is going “politically correct” and will make sure the next serious of Israel shekel bills will feature a Sephardi Jew following last year’s four new banknotes that featured only Ashkenazi Jews.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he personally prefers that the “Sephardi shekel bill” feature poet Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, calling his poetry “genius.”

Knesset Member Aryeh Deri of the Shas Sephardi religious party sharply criticized the monopoly of Ashkenazi Jews on the most recent series.

“Money adorned with an image of a Mizrahi figure is not worth less,” he said.

The Rambam, Moses Maimonides, was featured on a banknote in 1980 but is only widely-known Sephardic to be seen on Israel money.

Author: Egyptian Jews Lost Everything Because of their Ashkenazi Brethren

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Leading Muslim Brotherhood member and adviser to President Mohammed Morsi created a stir in Egypt recently, when he called on Egyptian Jews living in Israel to return home, because Egypt is now a democracy and because the Jewish state won’t survive.

I’m not aware of any Israelis flocking to the border just yet, but it’s interesting to note that Egyptian intellectuals maintain an informed and sophisticated view of the reasons for the hasty departure of some 75 thousand Egyptian Jews – although said view may be radically different from our own.

“The recent statement by Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian calling for Israelis of Egyptian ancestry to return to Egypt showed a lack of basic historical knowledge and implied a flirtation with the US Congress,” Mahmoud El-Wardani writes in his review in Al Ahram of a 2004 book by Mohamed Abul-Ghar, titled Yahood Masr min AlIzdihar Ela AlShitat (Egyptian Jews from the bloom to the Diaspora).

Abul-Ghar distinguishes between Sephardic Jews, whom he considers the original Egyptian Jews (who arrived during the middle ages and following the expulsion from Spain), and the newer arrivals, Ashkenazi Jews, who migrated to Egypt from Eastern Europe during the second half of the 19th century.

Sephardic Jews were well integrated into Egyptian society, spoke Arabic fluently and were part of the Egyptian social fabric, according to Abul-Ghar. But Ashkenazi Jews, who constituted 8 per cent of Egyptian Jewry, did not speak Arabic and despised Egyptian society.

The Al Ahram writer does not provide any proof regarding this “white man’s disdain” of the Ashkenazim towards their new country. My own conversations with an Ashkenazi colleague who immigrated to Israel from Egypt yielded nothing but love for his country of birth. He was keenly aware of its problems, but admired its people and culture. But that’s just anecdotal stuff. It’s possible that from an Egyptian point of view, having lived under British rule for half a century, any white man was a hated colonialist.

The first Zionist cells in Egypt appeared among Ashkenazi Jews, argues Abul-Ghar. Of course, the actual underground Zionist agents who did attempt to inflict some damage were all bona fide Sephardi Jews. Eliahou Beit-Zouri and Eliahou Al Hakim of the Lechi assassinated the British minister of state Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944 (both were hung), and a large Mossad operation in 1952 that attempted to destabilize the new Egyptian Junta was also run by Sephardi Jews (the cell’s chiefs, Dr. Moshe Marzuk and Shmuel Ezer were hung in 1954, many others received long prison terms).

The 1948 War of Independence changed everything for Egyptian Jews, according to Abul-Ghar, because the government closed the offices of the Zionist movement in Egypt and arrested many Zionist activists. He neglects to mention that Egypt also invaded the new country of Israel with tanks and infantry, and even bombed Tel Aviv from the air.

Abul-Ghar suggests that a 1949 law that abolished special business and investment privileges for foreigners, is what finally did Egyptian Jewry in. The law affected Jews directly because so many of them held dual citizenship.

The law was rescinded by the 1952 revolution, but the nationalizing of the Suez canal and the Sinai operation that followed made life in Egypt untenable for Jews.

The Aveilus Of Tisha B’Av Week

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

One may not perform several actions during the week in which Tisha B’Av falls. This is referred to as shavua she’chal bo. For example, one may not take a haircut or wash his clothing (Ashkenazi Jews are forbidden in these actions prior to the week of Tisha B’Av in accordance with the ruling of the Ramah). The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551: 4) writes that in a year when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday (as it does this year) there is a machlokes as to whether there are any prohibitions during the week before Tisha B’Av. The Mechaber seemingly sides with the view that there are no halachos of shavua she’chal bo in such circumstances.

Many Achronim explain that the dispute is based on the understanding behind the establishment of the fast of Tisha B’Av. The Gemara in Ta’anis 29a says that the Beis HaMikdash was lit close to the end of the ninth day of Av and continued burning throughout the tenth day of Av. Reb Yochanan said, “Had I been in the generation when Tisha B’Av was established, I would have established it on the tenth day of the month since the majority of the Beis HaMikdash burnt on that day.” The Gemara says that the Rabbanan who established the fast on the ninth day of the month did so because they felt that it was better to establish the fast day on the day of the troubles’ onset.

Based on this, they explain that the first opinion holds that there is no shavua she’chal bo in a year when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday because the Rabbanan only argued that, when possible, the fast should be established at the onset of the troubles. However, when it is not possible to fast on the ninth day of Av (i.e., when it falls out on Shabbos), they would agree with Reb Yochanan’s view that the fast should take place when the majority of the Beis HaMikdash burnt – namely on the tenth day of Av. Based on this, the week that precedes Tisha B’Av is not the week when the fast falls out, since in a year like this year we fast on the tenth day of the month (Sunday) – which is the beginning of the following week.

The other opinion holds that the halachos of shavua she’chal bo do apply to the week prior to Tisha B’Av, even when it falls on Shabbos, because they opine that the Rabbanan hold that the fast should always be on the ninth day – even when one cannot fast on that day. The reason why we fast on Sunday is merely to make up for not being able to fast on Shabbos. However, the fast day is primarily on the ninth day. Hence all the halachos of shavua she’chal bo apply, since Tisha B’Av falls out during that week – namely on Shabbos.

This permits us to explain another machlokes, the one between the Mechaber and the Ramah (554:19) regarding whether one must keep aveilus betzina (hidden aveilus, i.e. marital relations) on Tisha B’Av that falls on Shabbos. The Mechaber says that one may have marital relations on the ninth day of Av when it falls out on Shabbos. The reason: The fast was primarily established to be on the tenth day, and the ninth day is not a fast day at all. Therefore, the Mechaber holds that one need not keep any aveilus betzina on the ninth day. But the Ramah argues that this is forbidden and that one must keep aveilus betzina since the Rabbanan established Tisha B’Av to always be on the ninth day of Av – even when one cannot fast.

There is one problem, however, with this suggestion. Why does the Mechaber say that, when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday, there is a leniency regarding one making a bris milah? In siman 559:9, the Mechaber writes that one who makes a bris milah on a Sunday Tisha B’Av (that really fell on Shabbos) does not have to fast and may wash his body. In contrast, one must fast and may not wash his body if making a bris milah on the regularly scheduled day of Tisha B’Av. If we explain that the Mechaber is of the opinion that when Tisha B’Av falls out on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday (making Sunday the actual day of the fast, and thus Tisha B’Av didn’t fall in the prior week), permitting one to have marital relations on Shabbos, why is there any leniency or discrepancy regarding the fast on Sunday?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-aveilus-of-tisha-bav-week/2012/07/25/

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