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Genome research decodes origin of the Ashkenazim


Around 900 AD, the ruling class of the Kingdom of Khazaria in the Caucuses adopted the religion of minority group. They felt they needed a stronger religion to counter their Christian and Muslim enemies. They converted to Judaism. After the collapse of Khazaria, it’s mix of people were scattered around. Groups practicing Judaism emerge all over Europe around this time. Judaism was tolerated by Christians because Jews did not proselytize. Many of these early Jews were traveling merchants. Some Jews became extremely successful by adopting professions that were legal, but considered sinful among Christians. The most famous was usury based banking.

From France Channel 24…

Jews of European origin are a mix of ancestries, with many hailing from tribes in the Caucasus who converted to Judaism and created an empire that lasted half a millennium, according to a gene study published on Thursday.

The investigation, its author says, should settle a debate that has been roiling for more than two centuries.

Jews of European descent, often called Ashkenazis, account for some 90 percent of the more than 13 million Jews in the world today.

According to the so-called Rhineland Hypothesis, Ashkenazis descended from Jews who progressively fled Palestine after the Moslem conquest of 638 AD.

They settled in southern Europe and then, in the late Middle Ages, about 50,000 of them moved from the Rhineland in Germany into eastern Europe, according to the hypothesis.

But detractors say this idea is implausible.

Barring a miracle –which some supporters of the Rhineland Hypothesis have in fact suggested — the scenario would have been demographically impossible.

Among European Jews, Elhaik found ancestral signatures that pointed clearly to the Caucasus and also, but to a smaller degree, the Middle East.

The results, said Elhaik, give sound backing for the rival theory — the “Khazarian Hypothesis.”

Under this concept, eastern European Jews descended from the Khazars, a hotchpotch of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries AD and, influenced by Jews from Palestine, converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

The Judeo-Khazars built a flourishing empire, drawing in Jews from Mesopotamia and imperial Byzantium.

They became so successful that they sent offshoots into Hungary and Romania, planting the seeds of a great diaspora.

But Khazaria collapsed in the 13th century when it was attacked by the Mongols and became weakened by outbreaks of the Black Death.

The Judeo-Khazars fled westwards, settling in the rising Polish Kingdom and in Hungary, where their skills in finance, economics and politics were in demand, and eventually spread to central and western Europe, according to the “Khazarian Hypothesis.”

“We conclude that the genome of European Jews is a tapestry of ancient populations including Judaised Khazars, Greco-Roman Jews, Mesopotamian Jews and Judeans,” says Elhaik.