Esor Ben-Sorek
Esor Ben-Sorek

My Dog is Jewish

I read recently a disturbing scholarly article regarding the Jews of Uganda. It seems that some tribes in that African nation are claiming to be one of the “lost tribes”. They observe kashrut, Shabbat, circumcision, mikvah immersion and all the trappings that accompany Jewish worship and practice.

Two American Conservative rabbis, impressed with results of their study of the Ugandan Jews, converted them to Judaism in spite of the fact that the Israeli rabbinate will not recognize the conversion.

It is not a question of racism that I deny the claims of the Ugandan “Jews”. After all, we have long recognized the valid Judaism of the Ethiopian (Falasha) Jews and most of them are now living Jewish lives in Israel, recognized by our rabbinate and respected by our people.

There seems to be a run- on of other cultures and civilizations suddenly claiming to be “lost” Jews. We find them in Africa, in India and in Burma, in particular, with some even in Mexico. What do they have to gain, after three thousand years, from the Jewish State?

The answer:  Free health care. Free tuition at all our universities. Housing. Work. Good salaries. Citizenship. Free travel and transport from their countries to Israel. It’s like a dream. A paradise. No more jungles. Only the bureaucracy of Israel (among the worst in the world) awaits them. I hope they are very patient. Processing them can take years. Conversion…longer. Acceptance…doubtful. They have no documentation to support their claims.

Some Israeli officials look positively at their “return”. It will increase our population. It will add more soldiers into the IDF. It may help to diminish the Arab population in Israel, Judea and Samaria.

Their “approval” may have some reasonable logic but I cannot accept any people who suddenly jump out of a bush (and not even from a Burning Bush) after thousands of years declaring that they are Jews.

They could have announced their claim to Judaism and the Jewish people in 1948 when we became a free people in our historic homeland. Why did they wait almost 70 years to make their claim? It is very suspicious to me.

On one hand, it is satisfying to know that, due to their claim to be members of a lost tribe from 586 BCE, they are a monotheistic community recognizing the supremacy of One God and directing their prayers to Him.

But Christians and Muslims are also monotheistic believers in One God and they have no claim to the Jewish religion even though there are common roots…Jesus for Christians and Ishmael for Muslims.

I am reminded of the historic case of Brother Daniel (born Oswald Rufeisen), a Catholic monk serving in a monastery in Haifa. He was born in Poland to a Jewish mother and a Jewish father. He was hidden by nuns in a Polish convent during the Holocaust years in which both his parents were murdered and later he converted to Catholicism.

After his ordination, he emigrated to Israel to serve in a monastery. And he claimed citizenship under our Law of Return. It was denied to him and he brought the case into the courts. After lengthy hearings and discussions, Brother Daniel was once again denied citizenship. Why?

The court ruled that although he was born a Jew to Jewish parents and although he had converted to Christianity, all of which can be accepted by the rabbis, the fact that he became a priest and served another religion was sufficient to deny his claim.

The ruling was that a Jew is one who is born to a Jewish mother and whose loyalty is to the Jewish people. Brother Daniel was born to a Jewish mother but his loyalty was to his Christian faith.

Based upon that ruling, I proclaim that my dog, an Israeli Canaan (kelev k’naani) is Jewish. She was born in Jerusalem to a Jewish mother and a Jordanian father. She is an Israeli citizen by birth. And a Jew.

She has been taught to vote in our elections. Bark twice for Likud’s victory.  Howl five times to negate Shas and the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Like a good Jew, my dog eats only glatt kosher food and sleeps all day on Shabbat. These are the kind of Jews we need in Israel. Ones who can document their Jewishness according to halacha.

Not those who seek to reap the benefits of Israeli citizenship by false unverified claims to the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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