The Kuzari, or Do Ashkenazi Jews descend from converted Chasars?
Sometime between 1130 and 1140 A.D. Jehuda Halevi, the great Spanish-Jewish poet, thinker and physician wrote "The Kuzari - An Argument for the Faith of Israel". It is framed as a series of dialogues between a philosopher, a Christian priest, a Muslim scholar and a Jewish rabbi on the one hand, and al Khazari, the king of the Khazars on the other. The arguments convince the king, and he converts to Judaism.
Superficially, one might consider the history of the Khazars as merely a literary device to frame a profound discourse on the nature of the Jewish religion, but several independent sources have survived supporting the existence of a 9th century Jewish Kingdom between the Black and the Caspian Sea north of the Caucasus.
The myth of the Jewish Khasars had led some 19th and 20th century scholars to postulate that Ashkenazi Jews as a whole had descended from the Khazars, rather than from a remnant of Israelites, exiled from the Holy Land, who had migrated north from Rome and later east towards Bohemia, Poland and Russia.
Modern genetic research, using the tools of molecular biology has refuted the Khazar theory. Please join us as Ralph Bloch guides us through this fascinating topic.
Ralph Bloch is a retired academic of Swiss origin who has been active in genealogy since 2001. Ralph’s research interests include: Jewish history in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Frankfurt a.M. He is responsible for the Jewish Genealogy in Bavarian Swabia project and website http://jgbs.org and is a founding member and webmaster of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Hamilton http://jgsh.org.
Ralph has researched the history and genealogy of the Jews of Stühlingen from 1580 – 1743 and written his own genealogical database software containing over 6400 individuals.