India: Lost tribes of Israel

Shaswati writes about the Bnei Menashe community in Mizoram and Manipur (North East India), who after much debate and analysis were accepted as one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Giving more context to the issue, the posts asks

First, I thought Judaism was similar to Hinduism in the sense that you were born into the religion and couldn’t really convert. Second, if these people claim to be Jewish, then why would they need to be converted again?

1 comment

  • You can indeed convert to Judaism. It’s not common, but it does happen, particularly when non-Jews marry Jews. As for the other question, I imagine they are “re-converting” is because Israel has specific laws concerning how Jewish you have to be to immigrate to Israel. Israel is generally Orthodox, but there are other branches of Judaism, like Reform here in the US. Reform accepts someone who’s father is Jewish but mother isn’t, while Orthodox does not. So I’ve known people from mixed marriages who had to “convert” because Orthodox synagogues didn’t recognize them as Jewish, even though they were raised Jewish their entire lives. So it’s all part of a much larger debate within Judaism as to what makes a person Jewish.

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