THE SPINE NOVEMBER 23, 2006
I suppose that, if you are against the Jewish restoration to their ancient homeland, you won't care a fig about the coming of the B'nai Menashe to Israel. This group, that says it descends from the lost tribe of Menashe, one of the ten lost to history, is spread out in places like India, Thailand and Burma. They practice a pretty vibrant sort of vestigial Judaism and have a resonant will among of them to end their exile. Two hundred and eighteen are arriving this week from Bombay on a Thanksgiving journey that, at least at this moment, reminds me of the Pilgrim voyage--though the B'nai Menashe are, well, not so purtanical. One thousand of the Menashe had arrived in Israel during the previous decade.
There is less guess-work in the process of identifying the genetic origins of groups from other groups now than ever before. The Lemba of Zimbabwe are now known to be of the same stock as the Cohanim, the high priests of Israel (whose patronymic names till today are Cohen, Cohn, Kohn, Kahn etc.). Every man in the Lemba and your friend Dr. Cohen has the same errant gene.) Genetic testing is still going on among the B'nei Menashe, though leaks from the scientists say the correlation of "Jewish" blood markers is very high. In any case, here's an article by Michael Freund, a Jerusalem Post columnist, about much of this.