Saturday, 11 February 2017

Sephardic Genealogy on Facebook

A Western Sephardic synagogue - This on in Rhode Island, USA

There is now a Sephardic genealogy page on Facebook. So, if your family history includes Portuguese Jews, Spanish and Portuguese Jews, bnei anusim, anousim, conversos, 'marranos', Men of the Nation or whatever other name you want to use, please click here to follow Sephardic Genealogy on Facebook.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Amishav - Religious Zionist "discoverer" of "Lost Tribes"

Amishav for the Dispersed and Banished Tribes of Judah and Israel or, more simply, Amishav ( was founded by Israeli rabbi Eliyahu Avichail in 1975 with the encouragement of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, spiritual leader of religious Zionist Judaism, including the settlement of the Gush Etzion bloc adjacent to Jerusalem. The group appears to have been registered as a charity (#580014215) in Israel in 1982. Avichail appointed Michael Freund to run the organisation but they later quarrelled and Freund left to establish Shavei Israel. 

Amishav are especially involved (as are Shavei) with the Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribe(s) of north-east India who are now known as the “Bnei Menashe”. Speaking Tibeto-Burmese languages, before their encounter with Christianity they were animists who practiced ritual headhunting. When the first Christian missionaries arrived in the 1890s they associated their believed ancestor, Manmaseh, with the Biblical Menasseh, son of Joseph. They converted to Christianity. A second wave of evangelism, from Wales, in the early 20th Century sought to extinguish indigenous customs.  A wave of Revivalism in the 1920s created a more syncretic belief system. They took a literal view of the Bible, adopting Biblical Jewish customs. By the 1970s members of the community had adopted a pseudo-Jewish identity. When Rabbi Avichail arrived in the 1980s - unqualified as a historian, ethnographer or anthropologist - he declared them to be “Bnei Menashe”. The chances of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo being descended from Jews is probably zero.

Amishav are not involved with the ‘crypto-Judaism’ or the bnei Anusim movement but are important to the development of Shavei Israel. One website costs their bringing 40 members of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo to Israel at both US$18,000/year and US$32,000/year.Their budget is only around 5% the size of Shavei's, so are inevitably overshadowed by the larger organisation.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

First Certificate of Portuguese citizenship

It is reported that the first certificate of Portuguese citizenship for a Sephardic Jew has been issued. One Internet source has unofficially named the recipient as Daniela Ruah.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Portuguese Nationality for Sephardic Descendants

Portugal's Sephardic nationality law has been published. An Ashkenazi rabbi in Porto, guided by an Ashkenazi beit din in London, will decide if you are Sephardic enough!

2015 - The Year of Sephardic Genealogy

Late 2014 saw online skirmishing between two different approaches to Sephardic genealogy. On one side were Sephardic genealogists and academics demanding that genealogy be evidence-based. On the other was what we can describe as Ashkenazi 'Sephardic experts' who seek to understand the Sephardic experience through traditional fictional Ashkenazi representations of Sephardim. What the second group may have lacked in evidence was more than compensated by their numbers.

2015 will be an interesting year for Jewish genealogy.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

New YouTube channel

Sephardic Genealogy has a new YouTube channel. Original content will be posted in the next couple of weeks, once I get a microphone!