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People of God, Children of Ham: Making black(s) Jews

October 16, 2012

Journal of Modern Jewish Studies – Volume 8, Issue 2, 2009 – Bruce D. Haynes


Taxonomies inherited from the nineteenth century have shaped the discourse surrounding the racial identity and supposed roots of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. Through their interactions with just a few colonial actors, some of whom were Christian missionaries, others who were Jewish Zionists, a small group of young Falashas developed an elite status in Ethiopia as the true lost Jews in Africa. While most historians specializing in the history of Ethiopia do not believe the Beta Israel are a “lost tribe” of the ancient Israelites, Ethiopian immigrants have altered their self‐conceptions over the past hundred years and come to see themselves as both black and Jewish. This essay offers an alternative reading of the Beta Israel narrative, and asserts that the transformation of their social identities are embedded in a political process of racialization tied to racial ideology, and both secular and religious institutions and the State. In the process of incorporation into western society, their social identities have been transmogrified from religious others in Ethiopia to co‐religionists yet racial others in Israel.


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  1. g. willis permalink

    A lot of peoples trying to compare the actual jew with a foregin,we not only jews we always live here in this place others called Africa,no matter the names we allways been right here when other first saw us,we dont called here the promised land we have silver and gold in our soil Israel do not have it Isaiah 2:7,we have all the difference types of animals here in Africa,Israel dont,God put them here not us in 1948,they allways been here with us.we also have the Covenant of the Ark,lest we need any more attention. i am a jew by my ancestors who were jews,it has nothing to do with where im living today or tomorrow. sholom

  2. The African Hebrew/Israel/Jew identity phenomenon is a rather recent 20th Century development that actually has a well documented history of when and how it began. Assertions and claims prove nothing. We invite you and your friends to examine the evidence presented in the articles and documents in this blog.

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