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Lost tribes of Israel in India - finds by genetic profiling

nabadip - Wed, 01 Jun 2005 11:27:40 +0530
By Joydeep Thakur with bureau inputs

Asian Age

Kolkata, May 31: For almost a thousand-odd years, certain tribes in north-eastern India have held that they belong to that elusive group called the "Lost Tribes of Israel." And now, in a startling discovery, a scientific study into the genetic origin of these tribes have established them as two of 10 lost tribes. The study conducted at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Kolkata proves that Indian Mizo tribes Kuki and Hmar are indeed descendants of two lost tribes. The test results have been put up in a scientific online journal "Genome Biology."

Sources on condition of anonymity briefed that to determine the genetic lineage, scientists at the CFSL conducted DNA analyses of five tribal groups: Kuki, Hmar, Mara, Lai and Lusei. The study, spanning six months, focused mainly on three parameters: autosomal DNA testing (cells obtained from the body other than reproductive cells), mitochondrial DNA testing (to determine the maternal heritage) and Y-chromosomal testing (to determine the paternal heritage).

The genetic profiles were then compared with other related world populations to trace the lineage. The study clearly suggests that the Kuki tribe owes its origins to a few Jewish women. However, "the subsequent genetic admixture with the surrounding population diluted the present day gene pool or some significant epidemiological events might be the cause of this finding." Sources added that the Mizo group claimed their Jewish origins by citing purely oral traditions and a number of social customs practised exclusively by the Jews. The Hmars’ argument was strengthened by its observance of only three festivals in a year — Chapchar Kut, Mim Kut and Paul Kut — all traditional festivals of the Jewish.

Further, the funeral rites, ceremonies of birth and marriages customs of these two tribes in particular reflect the analogy with ancient Judaism. Meanwhile, a group of 7,000 Indians from the "Lost Tribe" hope to emigrate to Israel.

Sepharic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has acknowledged the status of the Bnei Menashe people and will send a team of rabbinical judges to convert them to Christianity. The conversions will ensure that the group is able to emigrate to Israel under the Jewish Law of Return. It will allow them to circumvent a home ministry ban imposed on the Bnei Menashe Indians two years ago.
nabadip - Thu, 28 Jul 2005 15:39:55 +0530
Holy dip a passport to Israel for tribal Mizo Jews

Syed Zarir Hussain / Aizawl , The Pioneer

For hundreds of tribal Jews in Mizoram, a final holy dip at a 'mikvah' or a ritual bath could be the passport to migrate to Israel, an Israeli rabbi said on Wednesday. Tribal Mizos are giving finishing touches to the construction of a 'mikvah' under the supervision of Israeli rabbis as part of a rigorous conversion drill.

A team of rabbis, including Israeli architect Rabbi Doron Malka, was overseeing construction of the Jewish ritual bath in Mizoram's capital, Aizawl. "The final process of conversion will begin soon after the mikvah is complete," Rabbi Hannock Avizedek, an Israeli preacher deputed by the Chief Rabbinate religious jurists, said.

"A bath at the mikvah forms an important ritual in Jewish traditions and a holy dip is considered mandatory and the final step towards becoming a complete Jew for any converts," he pointed out. A similar ritual bath is also being constructed in Manipur.

The Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem in March that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites or one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.

The recognition by Israel came in the wake of piles of applications from the locals here seeking to migrate to Israel which they say is their 'right to return to their promised land'. According to Israeli law, every Jew enjoys the "right of return" or the right of abode in Israel.

"Leaders of the Rabbinical Court will come from Israel and find out who are the people that can take a bath at the mikvah. There are strict rules to be followed and it is not that anybody who claims to be a Jew can take a dip," Rabbi Avizedek said, adding, "Once the rituals are over, it will open the gates for people from here migrating to Israel."

Although recognised as Jews, the tribal people here will have to undergo conversion rituals as they were not following Judaism as practiced in Israel. At least 800 people from Mizoram and Manipur have since migrated to Israel during the past decade, the last batch of 71 people leaving for Jerusalem in May 2003.

The local tribal Mizos and some people in Churachandpur area of Manipur are believed to have very many things in common with the Jews in Israel. As in any Jewish home in Israel, the Mizo Jews also place the mezuzah or a wooden box containing verses from the Torah at the entrance of their homes, and wear a kippah or headgear during prayers.

For people like Yonathan Ralte, a young college student in Mizoram, a holy dip could be a passport to Israel. "I am learning Hebrew and other aspects of Judaism so that I clear the test for conversion. I want to go to my Promised Land soon," Ralte said while voluntarily helping in the construction of the ritual bath.