Black Jews in Africa and the Americas by Tudor Parfitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Perceptions of Jews and African especially in their perceptual relationship to each other and how the outside world has perceived them have gone through many phases. Perhaps in the Medieval times where neither enjoyed full equality in Europe or the Americas being of African descent and Jewish was perceived almost as that of an impossibility. The Africans had their own God while the Jews worshipped the same God as the Christians.
Yet things began to change. Blacks and Jews were perceived of as being related. Jews were thought to have had some black blood that got diluted or the African Blacks were perceived to have come from Jewish blood. Most Christian white Europeans would comment that both groups of people were cheap, unclean and dishonest. The Jews wanted to be accepted in Gentile society so they tried to distance themselves from those people with African descent.
Before when Jews had African slaves they would often have them convert to Judaism as it was deemed desirable to convert their slave to Judaism. These African Jews would have the right to rea\d the torah, marry Jews and be buried in a Jewish Cemetary. In order for the Jews of America to be accepted into Gentile white society they started peeling back on the rights of these African Jews.
In America both Jews and Africans felt affinity. Often times they would mingle together and even act like each other. As in Europe though the need to be accepted lead to a rift. The Bible itself was used to justify slavery and the vilification of the African person. Africans would soon learn to use the bible as a tool to resist oppression. They found in it an identity for themselves.
Missionaries and colonialist often times foisted the Israelite identity on such African tribes as the Zulu, Tutsis, Yoruba and Igbo. As the Europeans gave it the Africans accepted it. They gave themselves an identity. In America those of African descent found inspiration in the Bible as they identified with Moses, the Exodus and other parts of the Bible calling for freedon.
Europeans have never given Africa credit for it’s development. If they saw a sign of high culture or development they would assume that the tribe came from outside of Africa. This is a shame as many of the Jewish like customs are believe to be coming from outside of Africa I believe that the Mayb e the Jews learned their stuff from the Africans and not vice versa.
There are now several groups of Africans who have adopted Judaism or believe they are descended from Israelites. Abyaduda in Uganda, Falashas of Ethipia and the buba clan in zimabawe. The Buba clan tested positive for Israelite DNA. The Falashas do not. I believe they converted during the time of Solomon. How will the Jewish community respond to these new sub communities. Only time will tell.
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