the faith of hebrew israelite has recently reached the mainstream media. celebrities alluding to the faith’s tenets has brought them attention. african americans have come out and professed themselves to be jews.
the hebrew israelite religion, however, is not monolithic. the belief that african americans were the only decendents of israel’s 10 lost tribes has, for some, has expended to incorporate the hispanics and native americans.
some of the charm of the hebrew israelites is their pride in being “jewish.” some of them have created controversy by their declaration that essentially mainstream jewish people are not the real jews. some especially take offense towards “ashkenazi” jews or the jews that essentially lived in europe for millenia.
the hebrew israelite belief that they are part of the 10 lost tribes is derived, in part, from scripture. they point to the bible and books such as deuteronomy to support their claim. the irony for many american hispanics (and hispanics that also claim some native roots), is that scripture is not necessary to confirm their jewish roots. a dna test will suffice.
dna studies have shown a significant hispanics in the americas have jewish ancestors. one study estimates somewhere between 20 to 25 percent of hispanics have some jewish roots. jpost.com the hispanic jewish population to the americans grew after the spanish inquisition. with the oppression, some jews left the religion or buried their jewish past.
on youtube, you can find hispanic influencer with dna reveals. hispanic dna results tend to be quite amazing. they can span the entire globe. some have middle eastern roots. many of them show a small percentage of “ashkenazi jewish” dna.
while these influencers are not part of the hebrew israelite religion, their reaction to having some jewish dna is fascinating. for some, there is no enthusiasm. for others, they have some resignation that a little will be there. for others, it might appear to be a blemish upon the celebration of their being multi-national.
why could this be? is this revelation simply something that they are ambivalent towards? is having jewish dna akin to having the dna from small island nation? or, is it something that bothers them? do they have a background which is negative towards jewish people, i.e. they are affiliated with another religion, or the people that they associate with have negative feelings towards jewish people? or, does having this dna somehow “taint” them? does this revelation signal that they now part of a group that they did not choose to be a part of?
alternatively, could it be that when there is an affiliation with being “jewish,” there are cultural and religious expectations? does possessing jewish “dna” carry with it moral responsibilities?
jewish dna likewise ties one into an ancient history and legacy. it is a history of both good times and horrific times. likewise, “jewishness,” is certain areas is a “wedge” matter. they are either liked or respected or hated and despised.
the concept of hispanic israelites is therefore fascinating. hispanic roots in judaism is cemented in history. hispanic jews, until the spanish inquistion, maintained one of the golden periods in judaism. after the inquisition, hispanic jews were not lost. rather, a large number hid their faith from persecution or they abandoned it. others were forced to convert to become catholic.
around the world, hispanics have returned to the practice of judaism. they after called Bnei Anousim (or Marranos) whose ancestors were compelled to convert during the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago. shavei.org. some maintained family traditions for generations which were part of their jewish roots. likewise, in new mexico and colorado jewish roots were re-discovered by man. smithsonianmag.com
in sum, there would be no irony lost if the hebrew israelite movement spurred enthusiasm in the american hispanic community concerning a sense of pride with respect to their jewish heritage and roots. perhaps, one of them will write the book and make a movie entitled “from hebrews 2 hebrews?”
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