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Lately, it seems that Israel cultural anthropologists etc. are very interested in finding random people at the far ends of the earth, then slapping those newly found people with a '10 Lost tribes' label and bringing them to Israel. I love my people, but in reality how many of these Ethiopian/ African/Thailand etc. immigrants are truly Jewish?

Also Jewish identity is based on matrilineal descent or conversion; not on some archaeological evidence. You can have all the archeological and DNA evidence showing that your zaide is Moshe Rabbeinu, but if your mom is not Jewish, then you are not Jewish. So how does the Israeli Rabbinate justify such blanket assumptions that a particular group is Jewish?

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    It does appear that most Chareidi rabbis are of the opinion that most of these people have to convert, if only just as a precaution, because, as you said, Judaism is based on matrilineal descent and not anthropological evidence.
    – Esther
    Jun 1 at 13:32
  • ` So how does the Israeli Rabbinate justify such blanket assumptions that a particular group is Jewish` Can you explain, with sources, what exactly is justified by the Israeli Rabbinate, It's not clear for me.
    – kouty
    Jul 20 at 16:39

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I love my people, but in reality how many of these Ethiopian/ African/Thailand etc. immigrants are truly Jewish?

Each group and each individual needs to be considered on a case by case basis. At the end of the day, if an individual or group strongly desires to be a part of the larger Jewish nation but serious questions concerning their halakhic identity as a Jew remains, they are exhorted to undergo conversion. Assuming the conversion was done under the auspices of a proper Beth-Din, their status as a Jew is no longer something that can be questioned. At that point whether their distant ancestors were actually Jewish or not becomes a moot point.

how does the Israeli Rabbinate justify such blanket assumptions that a particular group is Jewish?

It doesn't. As noted above, a thoroughgoing investigation into the group and its individuals is performed. Where there are questions on the validity of their halakhic identity as Jews, they undergo conversion. Once a conversion is performed their genealogy is irrelevant.

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  • I agree that genealogy is irrelevant after a conversion. I was looking for a source for how we know random groups of people are Jewish. In other words, should we be converting any and all new groups that are discovered? Jun 1 at 18:26
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    If a person or group of people feel a strong kinship to Judaism, and for whatever reason (true or not) believe they have Jewish ancestry, and are willing to convert in order to be a part of the nation, what reason would there be to not permit them to do so? Jun 1 at 22:55
  • How can a person or group of people feel a strong kinship to Judaism, if they didn't study/read about it a lot? Labelling groups of people as the '10 Lost tribes' because their great grand mother lit candles on friday is problematic. That is what I am trying to get to here. Jun 3 at 14:59
  • People can develop feelings for all sorts of reasons, including but not exclusively study. Again, it is irrelevant what the person believes of their ancestors. If we as a community have sufficient grounds to believe there was either a break in continuity of halakhic identity, or where perhaps there never was any halakhic identity to begin with, then giyur is insisted upon if the person wants to respected as a member of the nation (i.e. can marry into it). The rigor with which a proper Beth-Din vets such a candidate for conversion is no different than any other candidate. Jun 3 at 22:27

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