Why The Captivity of Three Jewish Filmmakers In Nigeria Maybe Connected To The Redemption

A few years ago I attended a high level meeting of pro Igbo Jewish activists, Rabbinic leaders, and political connectors in Jerusalem to discuss how real the Igbo claim of Israelite heritage and if so what was there to do about it.

No real press was allowed at the meeting and in many ways, although we reached some fascinating conclusions and a desire to help – nothing came of it.

There are approximately 30 million Igbo in southeastern Nigeria. Most identify with some sort of Hebraic connection, however those who follow mainstream halachic Judaism are few yet growing. A larger percentage – perhaps the majority, follow a Seventh Day Adventist approach to Christianity, which leans far more to a Hebrew Roots style of worship that appears on the outside to be very Jewish, despite a clinging to a different “messiah.”

The real connection the Igbo have to Israel is not with modern Judaism, but rather a form of actualized Israelite customs that our own sojourning relegated to memory. The bandwidth of laws that are similar to what we see in the Bible as well as familiar ones like Brit Milah, basic Kashrut, and Shabbat is astounding. Whether these came out from a need to connect to the Judaism they saw in the Bible centuries ago, or are an accurate expression of Israelite connection doesn’t matter – the Igbo not only believe, but have a deep culture of practice of the traditions called Omenana – “What you do in the Land.”

With this backdrop, Rudy Rochman, a pro Israel and indigenous rights activist as well as two others went to Africa to film emerging African Jewish communities, eventually finding themselves in Nigeria with the Igbo. Unfortunately for them, the Nigerian DSS associated their work with the free Biafra movement (a loose confederation of pro Biafran separatists sometimes connected to the Igbo).

Despite differences, Nigeria increasingly sees the Igbo movement for greater Hebraic awareness and the Biafran independence movement as growing more and more interconnected. Nigerian President Buhari, is a known radical Muslim who hates the Igbo. Unknown to them, the three Jewish filmmakers essentially walked into a far more complicated and dangerous situation than they assumed existed. Unfortunately they are still being held weeks later.

Despite the frustration and the danger Rudy, David, and Noam are in, their captivity may be part of something larger, a trigger for a wider redemptive awareness. While it is true, we as Israel don’t have the vessels or ability to sift through the myriad claims of connection from around the world, our awareness of a far larger purpose to our homecoming is necessary.

The Jewish return to the Land of Israel is a mere first step to a global redemption. It is not surprising since we liberated the Biblical Heartland and Jerusalem in 1967 that a tremendous awakening is now underway around the world. This awakening may not mesh with our assumption of what the Lost Tribes or the next stage of Redemption would be like, but that is only because our awakening is one of acceptance to something far greater than our exilic imagination permitted.

From the Pashtun in Afghanistan to the Igbo in Nigeria or the individual Christians who for whatever reason desire to return to the path of the Torah to the Bnei Menashe of East India, there is a sense that something profound is unfolding. Our assumption has been that in order to reach Redemption we in Israel only need to strengthen in following G-D’s will as found in the Torah and conquer the Land of Israel. What happens if the there is a another layer?

We know that the Redemption at the End of Days will be global – like a pebble dropped into a pond, the resulting splash has a center point, but radiates outward. This is what we are seeing now amongst the Igbo, the Abudaya in Uganda, and the Lemba in Zimbabwe. Are they Israelites? Not clear and nor does it matter – their attachment to the One G-D of Israel is what may tip the balance between darkness and light.

Perhaps Rudy and his friends are just some naive Jewish filmmakers or perhaps their captivity is a message for all of us that we have a responsibility to not only set them free, but to actually take the Igbo far more seriously than we currently do thus helping to release them from captivity as well. The Redemption just might depend on it.

Learn about Rudy’s Film here.

Reconnecting the Tribal Dots

“Ben Yemini”: the son of my right hand. Why does Yaakov/Israel call Benyamin by this name? The right side in Kabbalah is the side of the chassadim – of loving-kindness. It is the giving nature. It is the generous nature. It is the side of overflowing love of G-dliness.

Why is it that David and Jonathan loved each other so deeply? It is because they balanced each other. Jonathan was from the side of Benjamin, of the right side. David was from Judah, from the left side of judgments and boundaries, reflections and acknowledgements. They mirror the same duality as Rachel and Leah. Two wings of the same bird, two sides of the Sefirotic system, two elements of pure G-dliness.


Oh Jewish friends and family, we are so alone in this world. We are a lamb among wolves. Or so we think. Our mindset isolates us as much as the reality of the truth of our experience. But things are changing. “Jews,” we are Judah, we are Levi, we are Cohen, and we are some Benjamin, but where are the rest? They aren’t lost. They are right near us. They are so close to us. They are everywhere but in our hearts and minds. They are lost because we have forgotten them. They are lost because we have closed our hearts to them.

Family disputes are rampant these days; all over the place. There is almost no way to escape them. Will we, the younger generation, grow up and learn to be civil with each other? Will we learn that everyone has their place in this world, and we all simply need to do our personal tikkunim (rectifications), without too much stress on what everyone else is doing? Will social media help us or be our doom?

We are smarter than ever, oh young Jews. Yet, are we wiser? Will we grow wiser than our elders, and learn to get along with each other? The oldest family dispute we must care about today is that of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel. When we were split, we were separated, and the ‘first’ Temple was destroyed soon after. Do we care? Do we remember why this matters?

Modernity teaches to let go of our archaic roots and instead embrace science and hi-tech. Our job as Jews is to lift the world up to G-d and to bring the Knowledge of G-d down into the physical realms: into the iPhones, the WWW, the Amtrak. We aren’t Amish people. We’re Jews. English speaking Jews. We are light years ahead, and yet, we have embraced a foreign culture and we are in exile. We can’t forget that we’re in exile. We can’t forget that we are without a temple. We can’t forget that the tribes split in two and our long lost brethren are out there, waiting. They are waiting for us. Are we waiting for them? It’s in the prayers, but have the prayers become dead to us? Or have we become dead to the prayers?

The Assyrians took away the tribes of Israel to modern day Afghanistan (and some of what’s been deemed Pakistan) and they’re still there. They are called Pashtuns, and for various political reasons, very few are going to speak publicly about this. But they’re there. They call themselves “Bani Israel”. The names of their enormous tribes include Rabani, Shinwari, Levi, Mussazai, Yosefzai, Barakzai, Binyaminzai, Isakzai, Zevulunzai, Ashuri, Efridi and so on. (“Zai” means “sons of”). Their traditions include marrying under a chuppah, laws of niddah, separation of milk and meat, not eating non-Kosher animals or sea creatures, separation of dishes, lighting candles Friday night, circumcision on the 8th day, Talit/ prayer shawl, cities of refuge, levirate marriage, rubbing blood of slaughtered animals on doorposts, and much more.

Do we care yet? What does it mean? Why is it important that the Tribes of Israel reunite? Do we remember? Have we been learning our tradition? Or have we assimilated entirely?

Pashtuns number around 50 million people in the world and they are struggling for their independence. The creation of nationstates has been problematic and challenging, but they are a holy, holy, holy people and I know they will endure. Just as we have. We are eternal.

After the destruction of the Temple, the family of King Saul headed east to the land that the Assyrians took the tribes of Israel (ten tribes) to, and centuries later, became their kings there. Being from Judah, David’s line, we decided to write down the oral tradition, and thereby became dramatically different than the other tribes immediately. We became literate, but we also became less connected to G-d’s spirit, in a way. From this perspective, our exile is thicker than theirs. Ultimately, if any of us are in exile, we all are. We await the redeemer to rule over all of us, and we await the day that we will all become prophets again, with clear channels to G-d. We are very far from that day, but we can’t forget the path that has been laid out for us.

King Saul’s family is known as the Mahmadzai Family. The last kings of Afghanistan up until the late 1970s were descendents of Jonathan son of King Saul and this fact is documented throughout history books. The Afghan Jews can also verify this. The royal family known as the Musahiban dynasty can also testify to this.

In the late ‘70s, the Soviets murdered their king and family in a bloody coop and the remaining family was forced to flee – 100 families. They mostly settled in the Silicon Valley of Northern California. (That’s just proof that they’re the royal family, isn’t it?) Sadly, the internet has gotten that event all confused, and again, political interests have twisted those events in various directions. Still, ever since then, the country of Afghanistan has gotten nearly as messy as its half-recognized neighbor, “Pakistan”. Afghanistan turned from a cultural epicenter into “the Islamic republic of Afghanistan” where a new constitution doesn’t allow criticism against Mohammad or Islam. I personally spent a week with the Musahiban family and found them to be some of the most beautiful, loving, mystical, holy, cultured & fascinating people on Earth.

I’m grateful G-d didn’t allow the United Kingdom of Israel to last for very long. G-d showed us how wrong we were to request kings by creating the whole story of David and Saul. We were told over and over by the prophets not to ask for kings, and yet we persisted, and this is what we got. Now, we are stuck in our own ego of: who is better, who is more educated, who is more true to source, who is a better Israelite. However, we tribes must reconnect purely – from the heart – understanding that we are all puzzle pieces and that we have much to learn from each other!

This is not about conversions or relocations of masses of people. It is about love and familial peace. If we yearn for world peace we must start with peace in ourselves, our communities, and our nation. Why is there a Messiah son of David and a Messiah son of Yosef? It’s the symbolization of the reunification of the Kingdoms of Judah & Israel.

We must recall that our nation is much bigger than the Jewish people.  We are dumb and blind if we think otherwise.

LOST TRIBES RETURN: My Brothers the Igbo

During our exile from the Land of Israel we yearned to find our lost brothers, known as the Ten Lost Tribes who were exiled from Samaria in stages 2700 years ago by the Assyrians. Most scholars agree that just like the Bible says, the exiled Israelites were brought east to today’s Pashtun territory straddling the Durand line of Afghanistand and Pakistan.

The following verse in Kings describes the area.

2 Kings 17:6: “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.”

According to Nadav Sofy an activist for reuniting the Bani Yisrael of the Pashtun with the rest of Israel, “The area of the Pashtun is the only area in the world that shares these descriptions.”  While it is true that the area of the Pashtun as well as even areas of Kurdistan and north in the Caucus seems to mirror the above verse, there were three expulsions of Israelites by the Assyrians and probably more.

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post insinuating that the Pashtun had the only accurate claim to the title of Lost Tribes of Israel.  Others with Jewish affinity I have argued come from the Persian period that witnessed thousands across the empire ranging from India to South Sudan join the Jewish people.

While I still believe the Persian period is a great explanation on how Jewish customs are found across this large diverse number of regions, it does not take in consideration west African Jewry.

The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin page 94a asks where the Lost Tribes were sent to.  The first opinion is Africa and the second opinion is the mountains of Shlug, who most scholars indicate are the Caucus Mountains, directly north of the Kurdistan region in Turkey.

So which opinion is right?  I believe it is entirely possible like in other “disagreements” in the Talmud that both opinions may be right.  Remember, the Assyrians exiled the northern Israelites in stages and it is also clear their empire stretched across a vast area from Africa to what is today is Persia.  Interestingly enough it roughly mimics the Persian Empire that rose 250 years later.  It is entirely possible that the Assyrians split the Tribes up and sent them to the Caucuses, Afghanistan and yes Africa.


Where in Africa?

Let’s assume the most likely place for the initial expulsion was south or even southwest of Egypt, which was known as Cush or today’s southern Sudan.  From there the tribes would have spread out some moving as has been proven into the Gondor region of northern Ethiopia and the others would have travelled slowly.  In time they moved west and eventually reached what is today known as eastern Nigeria or by the Igbos as Igboland or Biara.

The Igbo are a decentralized group of clans that have a tradition that they migrated from a northern area and are of the tribes of  Ephraim, Naphtali, Menasseh, Levi, Zebulun and Gad.  The British recorded how the Igbo kept circumcision, stayed away from impure meat, practiced biblical purity laws and much more. Their oral traditions are called Omenana, “what to do in the Land.”

Of course, many of the Igbo traditions and oral memory was decimated during the Atlantic slave trade, which the Igbo became an outsized portion of due to their stubborness in the face of their colonial masters. With their conversion to Christianity, many Igbo began to gravitate to Saturday as being the true Sabbath after insisting that was the tradition of their forefathers.

With activists like Daniel Lis, Remy Ilona, and more, the Igbo are quickly finding the ancient origins of their traditions seem to lie in the Bible itself.

With an increased interest by many in Israel to find out lost brothers across the world, the Igbo are literally screaming for recognition. Change is hard. Acceptance of the other is perhaps the greatest test to our need for unity.  We find ourselves in the End of Days where we are to witness the reconnection and merger of the staffs of Judah and Efraim.  We, the descendents of Judah have always expected the Tribes to be in one location and would appear like us, but that was an expectation born out of a faulty notion of our global tribal unit and own experiences.  The fact is the Tribes are scattered throughout the world and it is time we accept their yearning to return and act as the facilitator for their homecoming.

The Igbo, like our brothers in Afghanistan are a test for our stubborness to see reality and past the color barrier we have sponged up from our travels in Europe.  Redemption is as much about our own inner tranformation as it is about bringing home the exiles of our people. In this regard, our ability to see passed our brothers’ skin color as well as our work at bringing them home is also apart of our own inner transformation. This transformation will ultimately lead to a reconfigured Israel that is the ultimate revelation of the Creator’s kingship in the world.



Nadav Sofy: “The Pashtun are children of Yaaqov, our brothers and sisters”

As many of our readers know Israel Rising has always been at the cutting edge of social currents and events as they relate to Israel’s unfolding redemption.  In recent years this has taken me and this site into the subject matter known collectively as the Lost Tribes of Israel.  I for one have always been interested in dicovering exactly who and where our lost brothers are and so as time as gone I have also dicovered that others too have had the same drive and desire as myself. While there are many groups around the world with some parallel customs to Israel, two groups of people in very opposite locations share a great deal of Israelite customs.  These would be the Igbo of southern Nigeria and the Pashtun of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Nadav Sofy, the founder of  The Association for the Bani Israel from Afghanistan a number of questions concerning his views on the Pashtun of Afghanistan and why he believes they form the central population center of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

DM: When and how did you become interested in the connection between the Pashtun and Israel?

NS:  About 3 years ago my wife got me interested in lost Jewish communities. From that topic we naturally moved to read about the lost tribes who’ve been lost to the Jews for about 2600 years. When we read about the Pashtuns we were amazed how so much strong evidence is going for them, yet their story being Israelites is completely unknown to the majority of the Israeli public. So I started looking for ways to talk to them on the web… At first I ran into Pakistanis with great resentment at me, being from Israel. Later I found out that most of that Pakistani resentment doesn’t come from the Pashtuns of Pakistan, but actually from other ethnicity in Pakistan, who, believe it or not, sometimes even pretend to be Pashtuns and curse Jews to scare them off from getting involved with Pashtuns. I learned that when I met such people who claimed to be Pashtuns, but could not answer a simple question in Pashto. Luckily I didn’t give up and finally met Pashtuns both from Afghanistan and Pakistan. I haven’t stopped since.

DM: What is your logic behind your belief they are in fact the lost tribes?

NS: The logic is simple. First, the lost tribes, and even Jews in general, were and still are spread across different areas. During the first exile of the Jews, the diaspora centers were Babylon and Persia, but during the second exile, the Jews did not have a center. For the ten tribes the situation is expected to be like for the Jews in their first exile – the Ten Tribes might be found in multiple places, but according to the Bible, we expect to find their diaspora center somewhere in central Asia. We now know exactly which nations live there, and the Pashtuns are not only the best match, but actually the ONLY match in terms of having an ancient tradition that they are Israelites, having more than 40 Jewish customs, and being in the correct location according to the Bible. If it isn’t them, it is no one, and even objectively they fit even better than expect. The Pashtuns are surely the lost tribes, and even if some portions of the lost tribes went elsewhere too, certainly Afghanistan is the diaspora center of their exile.

DM: Can you share some examples of parallel customs?

NS: Of course. One example what be Netilat Yadayim, which basically mean washing hands before eating meals specifically with a tool. Some even pour water 3 times on each hand, just like King Solomon commanded us. Some Pashtuns never count their children or other Pashtuns, and I was even told that one of the reasons no one knows how many Pashtuns live in the Federally Administrated Tribe Area is because whenever there is a census, the Pashtuns give false information because they don’t count people. They keep Kosher, I think more than any Jew might have ever expected from the lost tribes, including not eating meat and dairy products together and even don’t use the same dishes, they don’t marry outside the Pashtun people, they cover blood of slaughter animals, and some even don’t sleep in the same bed during woman’s period. They have more than 40 such customs which is completely amazing after so many years.

DM: What do we do about their devout belief in Islam?

NS: Well, did any of us expect to find the ten tribes Jewish? I didn’t. We as Jews know that according to the Halakha, Israelism runs in the blood. You can join us, but you can’t leave us, so an Israelite who changed religion does not and can never ever stop being an Israelite. They are children of Yaaqov, our brothers and sisters, even though we don’t agree over which commandments G-D wants us to follow. Until now, with the exception of some religious extremists, we receive great love from them, and we give them a lot of love back. In the end, blood and nationalism is the strongest bond between people.

DM: How can Israel help them given the fact that Afghanistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel?

NS: Unfortunately, Afghanistan’s government tries to be more Arabic than Arabs, when even the Arabic Jordan and Egypt, who tried to destroy Israel multiple times, have diplomatic relations with Israel. We are told that this is because of pressure from Iran, but anyway, it certainly makes our life harder and we hope it will change soon. For now, Israel can make a move to finally reunion with the other tribes, by letting Afghans visit or by approaching Pashtuns organizations in Europe and the US. Israel can also let Afghans come as foreign exchange students, and those are just some minor examples of things Israel can do easily, practically without even spending a lot of money. There are also ways in which Afghans can help Israel, so it doesn’t have to be a one sided thing. Right now one of our hopes is that some people in our govenment will wake up, and it must be soon. Our state of Israel was not called Israel for nothing. When we came back from the first exile, we called our kingdom Yehuda. So why are we now  called Israel? Any child knew back then, from the Bible, that we will be destroyed before we reunite with the other tribes, and any child knows today that we will never be destroyed again and that we will, without any doubt, be reunitd with the tribes. So we are called Israel, not Yehuda, a state for the whole nation of Israel which includes the other tribes too. I should say that right now we don’t have any governmental support, we are an NGO of Jews who believe the Pashtuns are the Bani Israel and thus integral part of our nation.

DM: The British intentionally put the Durand Line through the middle of Pashtun territory i an attempt to break their cultural cohesiveness. This is a pattern that was replicated across much of the British colonies. The powers at be are far stronger than Israel.  How can Israel help and reverse the demonization of the Pashtun the West has created without causing a major rift?

NS: Well the Durand just might be the biggest issue in Pashtuns’ politics. To understand the complexity of the situation you have to see the discussion. What we see on a daily basis is nationlistic Pashtuns being murdered, which makes them afraid to speak up. Then the non nationalistic Pashtuns, who either see themselves as Pakistanis or nation-less Muslims, meet the Afghans on the web and start cursing them. The Afghans don’t alway differenciate and sometimes just curse back at any Pakistani Pashtun, even if he is actually nationalistic. Meanwhile, Pashtuns are literally blown up by suicide bombers who “strangely”only attack Pashtuns, and then the same Pashtuns are targeted and punished for the suicide bombings that were directed at them! So at the diplomatic level, and at the morale and world-view level, Israel can certainly help. The divide and conquere of the British and the forces that followed Britain really made the Pashtuns divided. If the Pashtuns from both sides will unite with us at least spiritually, by that, hopefully they will also unite between themselves. Pashtuns on both sides heard from their parents they are Bani Israel, and this is the banner we can all carry, to finally stop the evil Pashtun genocide that has been happening for decades. Some Pashtuns are scared of openly saying they are Bani Israel, because some countries would not like that, but those same countries are the ones who are sending their Taliban pigs at the Pashtuns, so I always tell them that I don’t think it can get too much worse than it already is. At least there will finally be a way out, a light in the end of this endless war.

DM: Tell us a bit about your organization’s activities and what’s next after your successful conference last week.

NS: We can’t know exactly which opportunities will be opened in the future, as this is the first time on earth that two parts of the same nation try to become one nation again, and it gets even more complex because we don’t agree on religion and we are not closed geographically. But right now, our job is possible. The first and most important thing to do right now is to make all the Jews know that the other tribes are found, and to make all the Pashtun realize how much we care, so finally we could stop seeing comments like “so what, we are Muslims now”, because they are Muslim not just now, but for a long time, and we still care. We wanna do a Pasho-Hebrew duet that will rock the Pashtun and Jewish world, we wanna write a book with the sources of the Pashtuns’ Jewish customs, we wanna do a serie of Pashto lectures, and English ones, to draw everyone’s attention, and in the end, when the awareness will be high enough, we hope that Afghanistan and Israel will be friends, and tons of opportunities will immediately become available. I must say that with Pakistan things are different. I think no one expects Pakistan to have diplomatic relations with Israel, because their ruling people are not Pashtuns and think they are the worst enemy of the Jews, even though we never even heard about them.

DM: This will be my last question. Why are you called the association for the Bani Israel from Afghanistan when there are millions of Pashtuns in Pakistan?

NS: Pakistan was created 70 years ago. Thus all the Pashtuns are Afghans and are from Afghanistan.

DM: Thanks Nadav for taking the time.  I know you are very busy.

NS: Anytime.  It is a pleasure spreading the truth about our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and I am excited to be involved in such an amazing movement.

LOST TRIBES: Reconnecting the Pashtun to Israel Has Now Begun

Something is happening.  After thousands of years of disconnection, the Lost Tribes of Israel are beginning to come back and reconnect with the “remnant of Judah.”  Whether it is the Igbo in western Africa or Bnei Menashe of east India, no where can this be seen more clearly than the awakening amongst the Bani Israel in southern Afghanistan.  Tribally called the Pashtun, the Bani Israel are made up of tens of millions of people that have many customs very close to those of Jews.

Some of these customs include the circumcision on the eighth day, a four cornered shawl with fringes, lighting Shabbat candles on Friday night, family purity laws, and many more. The Pashtun place their laws called the Pashtunwali above that of the Koran. The Pashtunwali appears to be ancient Biblical Law.

The Pashtun themselves have a strong internal tradition that they are in fact the descendents of the Lost Tribes of Israel arriving in Afghanistan around 700 CE, which is shortly after the ten tribes were exiled to what is today Kurdistan.  From there many anthropologists say the Lost Tribes would have moved east concurring with the timeline the Pashtun present.

This Thursday the first ever conference between Israel and the Pashtun is taking place in Jerusalem.  The conference, titled the Conference for the Ten Lost Tribes of Afghanistan is being organized by The Association for the Bani Israel of Afghanistan and iTribe.

Persecution of the Bani Israel

The Pashtun or Bani Israel dwell in the mountains of southern Afghanistan and Pakistan, on both sides of the Durand line.  This is the artificial boundary drawn up by British colonialists, seemingly on purpose to split the indigenous Pashtun population.  Over the years this division has weakened the Pashtun handing many younger Pashtun into the hands of radical Islamists thus destorying their ancient Israelite customs.

With the new awakening amongst the Pashtun, there is a chance that Israel can forge a pathway back to its lost brothers and restore the full house of Israel. It won’t be easy. Many of todays Pashtun believe in Islam and have forgotten their old traditions.

This Thursday’s conference is a powerful opportunity to break the neo-colonial attempt by the Western World to divide the descendents of Jacob and reunite the 12 Tribes under a renewed Kingdom.


LOST TRIBES: Islamists in Nigeria Continue to Oppress Igbo Israelites

The growing movement of the Igbo tribe’s return to its Israelite heritage is nothing short of miraculous.  What started out as a small percentage of Igbo interested in returning to the pratices of their ancestors as they were before the slave trade was brought to the Gold Coast of Africa is now a wide spread movement.  This of course is part of the larger Lost Tribes movement we are witnessing around the world.

The Igbo in particular, as well as many of the smaller tribes nearby have been hunted and oppressed by Western backed Islamists from the Northern Hausa tribe in control of Nigeria.  The Igbo, considered dilligent businessmen with one of the richest African diaspora communities, are held back from controlling the lucrative oil trade that originates in their area.  Instead the Hausa backed by oil companies have for years been sucking the Igbo oil wealth from their region and forced the region into direct poverty.

The question is: why?

When the British came to what is today Nigeria or more specific the Biafra region, actually known as Igboland, they noticed a bizarre sight.  The Igbo were keeping the Sabbath on the same day as the Jews.  The Igbo also held strongly to many other Israelite practices.  The British, as they did in so many other places went ahead and forcibly stamped this out.  The pratice that was done in Iraq, India, Afghanistan, and other British colonies was to place non-indigenous peoples over the indigenous owners of the lands they conquered.  In many places it is surfacing that these tribes are actually connected to the Lost Tribes of Israel.

The Igbo are said to be related to the tribe of Gad as well as a mixture of other tribes.  Their tradition leads them to practice Shabbat, Kashrut, family purity, and more. The ongoing oppression of the Igbo is a microcosm, of the wider war that the Judeo-Israelite world is fighting against the global left and the Islamists it is using as footsoldiers to try stopping the ultimate return of G-D’s children in all its myriad colors from the far reaches of the world.

BUY TODAY: The Igbos and Israel: An Inter-cultural Study of the Oldest and Largest Jewish Diaspora

The Buhari administration in Nigeria is a British backed and Islamist infused mini-caliphate which has kept down one of the most obvious of the Lost Tribes and has sucked out their wealth and spread an extreme form of Islamic adherence to what should be a propsperous and free country.

I personally have always struggled with the truth of the coming home of many of our brothers and sisters from the four corners of the world.  It is apparent to me that it will not occur in way that the first stage has occured.  There is a great awakening happening across the world that is spreading a tremendous light.  The Igbo are part of this, but due to corporate and Islamic meddling they have been prevented from realizing their desires to practice freely and build up Israelite institutions where they have live for 2000 years.

The coming war is a war of truth versus the spreading of Islamo-Facist ideology.  The return of the Lost Tribes from around the world can start with the Igbo if we realize that the best way to fight the coming war is simply by fulfilling the biblical prophecy as it is simply stated. Of course we must make sure this return is on the ne hand as smooth as possible and yet meets the standards that the People of Israel have kept to for the last 2000 years.

Have the Lost Tribes Already Returned?

The search for the 10 Lost Tribes has been part of the Western World’s fascination with Judaic culture for the better part of the last 1800 years.  However, in modern times after the return of the Jewish people to their historic and divinely promised homeland, this fascination has turned from an interest to an active movement.

The yearning to identify and bring home the lost tribes is not merely a curiosity. Many groups both Jewish and Christian see it as a fulfullment of biblical prophecy at the End of Days.  In the past decade or two numerous movements around the world have popped up claiming their nation or tribe are one of the lost tribes.  Some have more evidence and others less.  Jewish interest has clearly grown in this subject, with organizations like Shavei Israel and Kulanu pushing for more inclusion for these groups from the main stream Torah observant world.

With all of the noise surrounding the search for the lost tribes, could it be we are looking in all the wrong places? When we peel away the claims and yearnings of many of those proporting to be from the lost tribes, we are left with conjecture, inference, and yes some evidence pointing to a few groups.  Before discussing these groups, we must face the very sobering conclusion that a majority of the lost tribes already walk amongst us here in Israel and many of the Jewish communities around the world.

What Does it Mean to be Lost?

There are really two types of lost when dealing with the tribes.  The first kind is that they as groups are lost to the rest of Israel and the Jewish people and the second is that they are known, but their specific tribal identification has been lost.  The latter means they self identify as Jews but their tribal affinity is lost.  This differentiation is key.

2 Kings 17:6: “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.”


This verse seems to make it clear that the Israelites were indeed taken away, but lets bring in some surrounding verses in order to understand this.

The first is the following verse in the time of Hezkiyahu and clearly points to tribes of northern Israel spared by the Assyirians coming to Jerusalem:

2 Chronicles 11 Nevertheless the people of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.

Backing up the movement of the northern refugees to Judea is the fact that we know according to archeology that Hezkiyahu expanded Jerusalem five fold at the time of the destruction and expulsion of the Northern Tribes.  The expansion happened across many of the villages in Judea as well turning them into cities.

Rav Yitzhak Levi says the following:

“In his archeological digs in the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem, Prof. Avigad found a wall which he identified as the wall built by Chizkiyahu. He based this claim on several arguments. First of all, the ceramics found at the site fit the period of Chizkiyahu (eighth century, BCE). Second, he argued that with the fall of the Kingdom of Israel, some of the refugees arrived in Jerusalem and it was necessary to expand the city in order to absorb.”

Yet, this is not the first instance involving members of the Northern Tribes relocating south to Judea. Two centuries earlier in the time of King Asa, a righteous King of Judea, members of the Norther Tribes relocated to Judea.

Chronicles 2 15:8 And when Asa heard these words, even the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the detestable things out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from the hill-country of Ephraim; and he renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.

Chronicles 2 15:9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and them that sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon; for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.

These verses clearly indicate that the lost tribes are not lost, but rather their tribal identification was lost as they became merged into the broader Jewish population.  In fact by the time of the Purim story the word for Jew was adopted by every tribe under the kingship of the Judean kings.

Esther 2:5 There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a Benjamite,

Esther 2:6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives that had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

The biblical commentator Rashi states that all Israelites became known as Jews in the time of the Babylonian exile because the king was from the tribe of Judea.

In the book of Ovadia the following is stated:


19 And they of the South shall possess the mount of Esau, and they of the Lowland the Philistines; and they shall possess the field of Ephraim, and the field of Samaria; and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel, that are among the Canaanites, even unto Sarphant, and the captivity of Jerusalem, that is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the South.

We are within the unfolding of the above prophecy now.  Sarphant is France and Sepharad is Spain. However, there will be many more Jews that are meant to come from the four corners of the world as prophesized in Isaiah 11:11:

Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea.

This prophecy also is clearly underway as Jews returned from Assyria, Egypt, Cush, and Shinar.  These returnees are never mentioned as belonging to a particular tribe, but rather individual members of the Jewish nation.  At the end of the process one’s personal tribal identification will be revealed as an outer expression of their internal ancestry.

So What of the Various Claims?

At the same time it is pretty clear most of the Jews at the time of the Babylonian exile were actually a mixture of all the tribes, there is much indication that those tribes that were exiled were bought east.  There is a drive to connect these tribes to the Pashtun in Afghanistan as well as other people’s in the region. However, it says the following in 2 Kings 17:34:

“To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship Yahweh nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that Yahweh gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel.”

The proof that many bring for the Pashtun is that many of their laws mirror ours.  The very following of the Torah seems contradictory to the verse above rendering the claim problematic.

When we come across communities that seem to have an echo of Jewish ritual there is a far greater chance that these communities were at one time part of a far richer Jewish diaspora than a lost tribe. Afterall, these communities whether in Asia, Africa, or even in South America have some sort of connection to Judaism, albeit far changed and assimilated.

At the end of the Purim story there is proof in connection to a worldwide Jewish civilization that existed in Persian times. We know that the Persian empire spanned from India to the Sudan and probably had direct influence well beyond that.  We also know the Jews lived throughout the empire and probably just beyond.  When it was clear the Jews were going to win, many non-Jews throughout the empire became Jews themeselves.

Esther 8:17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.

And then we have this verse:

Esther 9:27 the Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to the writing thereof, and according to the appointed time thereof, every year.

It is clear that Jewish civilization has found itself around the world.  Whether these are the tribes doesn’t matter as the tribes by now have lost their seperate identity within the Jewish people.

So where are the lost tribes? The lost tribes are us and we have come home.







The Jewish Revival of Papua New Guinea – Part One

The real and tangible occurrence of the Jewish Revival in Papua New Guinea represents a unique opportunity for both the Jewish people and the State of Israel to both clarify and explore its own roots, priorities, history and religious direction. For on this small island just a few miles above northern Australia there are the rumblings of both a Jewish renaissance and a Zionist mission; there are Jews that had lost their Judaism and now desire to return to their Mosaic roots and tribal peoples that claim their Judaism to stem from the Ten Lost Tribes. There are ancient peoples that anxiously await their return to the Land of Israel and modern Rabbis that have taken upon themselves the task of teaching these tribes modern Judaism in its chiefly Ashkenazi and Sephardic forms. The Israeli government has established relations with the government of Papua New Guinea and Israeli high tech companies have aided the indigenous peoples of this still largely untouched and virgin land.

The story of “Jewish” Papua New Guinea, and how we as Jews and Israelis relate to it, will affect the ancient Jews of Africa and of India, of South America and of the Native Americans in the United States that also claim Jewish ancestry. For this is a story of lost lands and lost peoples, of both ancient and modern Jewish history, of conquests and intermarriage, of polytheism (re)turned to monotheism, of cannibalism turned to humane practices under the influences of modern religion. It is a story of hope and dialogue and fundamentalist Christianity and ancient Judaism, a story of prayer for a better future and a future based on the teachings of the past.

This saga in many ways reflects the struggles of the tribes of Africa that claim ancient Jewish roots or at the very least desire to become one with the Jewish people through identification with the bible and its people. It mirrors the aspirations of groups of peoples from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas that, while not always yearning to come home to Israel, most definitely identify with the Jewish people and want to unite with its renewed spirit.
For me, as a Jew, it represents fundamental questions of identity, of an entire history unknown to the average Jew, of a need for renewed definitions of who we are as a people, of empathy for an entire globe of nations that have found empathy towards us with barely a mutual nod back in their direction. It is a type of tshuva – repentance – for ignorance and perhaps even prejudice and it is an opportunity that must not be missed and that has only become possible with the creation of the modern State of Israel.

The Jewish journey back to Papua New Guinea begins only tens of thousands of years after the original establishment of humans on the island, when the first Europeans landed in 1526.  Ironically, it was the Portuguese explorer, Jorge de Menezes, himself a Jew forced into secrecy after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, who discovered the islands and began its exploration. Other Jews forced from Spain and Portugal during the late 1400s and the 1500s would soon arrive at the island, Jews that had been followed by the Inquisitors from Europe to Peru and on to Japan. From Japan, some made their way to Papua New Guinea.  The Jewish Diaspora includes cousins of distant geography but of shared historical experience. It is entirely possible that some of the Jews of Peru share common Jewish heritage with the modern Jews of New Guinea. There may be ancient Jews in New Guinea as well, but this will be discussed in Part Two.

A member of the Gogodala tribe of Papua New Guinea. The tribe claims to be of Jewish origin. Credit: Tim Long, Florida International University.
A member of the Gogodala tribe of Papua New Guinea. The tribe claims to be of Jewish origin. Credit: Tim Long, Florida International University.

These Jews of Papua New Guinea eventually intermarried and found their way to missionary Christianity, with its messianic Message. It is, perhaps, this message that burned within them to find salvation’ albeit not Christian salvation, through a return to their Jewish roots hundreds of years later. But not all became outwardly Christian – some intermarried with native tribes and indeed carried the harsh lessons learned from the Inquisition. To this day, many feel that it is forbidden to enter a church for “it is an evil place”. Some even give their children the name of Sukkot, Torah and Menorah, as recalled in a fascinating article by Rabbi Yossi Serebryanski.

In 2007, then Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, stated that his people would always worship the God of Israel and the entire country is full of Israeli flags during the Israel Day of Independence. This is indeed and incredible phenomenon that requires far more study.

The story of the Jewish Return in Papua New Guinea, however, is far more complicated and far more subtle. In Part Two we shall take up the exploits of Professor Tudor Parfiit, known as the “British Indiana Jones”. Professor Parfitt has been exploring ancient Jewish tribal communities for many years and indeed was one of the first to show a Jewish historical link to the Lemba tribe in Africa.

The Jewish Diaspora has left bits and pieces to be slowly and carefully fit together, with waves of Jewish immigration from the times of King Solomon’s trading ships and the later forced migration from Israel of the Ten Lost Tribes, through the Inquisitions, the Dutch East India Trading Companies, the Jewish immigration to America and the modern return to Israel. The Papua New Guineans, both ancient and new, represent a small but significant piece of this puzzle and the modern Jewish confrontation with those that are truly descended from Israel and those that clearly want to become associated. This is a story of ancient and modern, and thus a fitting narrative for the new Jewish Return.