Descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes reconcile with their siblings in Jerusalem
• By RIVKAH LAMBERT ADLER
What if, instead of 15 or 16 million, there were actually hundreds of millions, or even several billion people in the Nation of Israel? That’s the vision underlying the upcoming Commonwealth of Israel (COI) Reconciliation Conference scheduled for May 21-23 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
From where will all these additional people come? While organizations such as Shavei Israel are working on identifying lost Jews, the coordinators of the COI conference believe that the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes, who were exiled from northern Israel over 2,700 years ago by the Assyrians, are currently waking up to their true identities and seeking a way to return home to Israel.
Conference cofounder OvadYah Avrahami tells In Jerusalem, “Everybody is talking about the geula [the ultimate redemption] and the redemption cannot come about without the re-identification of the lost House of Israel.
“Our sages and all the prophets of the Tanach predicted this reunification, and, in fact, it’s the main theme of the Bible. The prophecies clearly confirm that God will re-identify the Ten Tribes and bring them home. And that this will occur in the End Times.”
Both Avrahami, who is a Jewish man living in Samaria, and his conference cofounder Stephen Spykerman of Wales, who identifies as a member of the Ten Tribes, agree that there are millions of individuals from all over the world today who are coming out of mainstream churches and are beginning to identify with the Hebrew roots of their faith.
The upcoming conference aims to bring these two groups into conversation.
On the one hand, in the world today, there is what both men refer to as Judah – the descendants of the southern biblical kingdom who remained loyal to King Solomon and the House of David. In biblical times, this was primarily the tribes of Judah and Benjamin along with some members of the priestly tribe of Levi. When they speak of Judah today, both Avrahami and Spykerman are referring to what is commonly understood as the Jewish people.
The other group that exists today, the ones who believe that they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes, are variously called Ephraimites, Ten Tribers, Hebrew Roots or other, similar names. They have no common country, no common language and, in many cases, no idea that there are millions more like them all over the world.
According to Avrahami and Spykerman, these two groups, Judah and Ephraim, have been separated since the exile of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE. Spykerman explains to IJ that it’s time for the “two Houses of Israel drawing nigh toward one another in a spirit of reconciliation. We haven’t talked to one another for thousands of years.”
Spykerman claims that “Christianity is a Roman invention that has nothing to do with Jesus, who was a Torah-observant Jew. His disciples were the same. He came to rescue and redeem the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Christianity covered up everything Jewish about him. However, in these end times, Christians have been woken up and are finding their Hebrew roots in the Torah.”
He hopes that the COI conference will provide an opportunity for open communication between the two groups. “It’s time to get to know each other, to establish a relationship and start a dialogue.”
Most Jews have no idea that they have, according to Avrahami and Spykerman, millions, hundreds of millions or potentially several billion family members in the world. These members openly express gratitude “to our older brother Judah who has been faithful and preserved the Torah. We wouldn’t have the Torah without Judah,” said Spykerman.
Avrahami cites Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna’s opinion that we are witnessing the return of the Ten Lost Tribes and that “when they return, the identifying sign will be that they will turn back to the Torah. The Ten Tribes were originally cut off because they denied the Torah.”
Last year’s COI conference was the first of its kind, attempting to bring together people from the Hebrew Roots movement representing the House of Israel, and Jews representing the House of Judah. Last year, they filled the room with 100+ attendees from Malaysia, India, China and New Zealand as well as from the US, Israel and Europe. This year, there is room for 250, and the conference coordinators would especially like English-speaking Jews in Israel to attend.
According to Avrahami, “Jews have to come, to begin to understand what’s going on.” He explains that rabbis today initially tend to think that these people are simply non-Jews who have nothing to do with the Jewish people. Nevertheless, Avrahami insists, God made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the uncountable stars in the sky. “We must get this lot together, to start looking at each other,” he asserts.
Conference cofounder OvadYah Avrahami, a Jewish man living in Samaria.
Conference cofounder Stephen Spykerman, who is originally from Wales and identifies as a member of the Ten Tribes.
(Courtesy Stephen Spykerman)
‘We’re talking about the two Houses of Israel that the Bible talks about’: Highlights from the 2016 Commonwealth of Israel Reconciliation Conference.
(Photos: OvadYah Avrahami)
The fee to attend the three-day conference is NIS 500. However, Avrahami says that, although donations are appreciated to help cover costs, any Israeli who wishes to attend can enter for free. “That’s how serious we are to help Jews know what’s going on.”
Both Avrahami and Spykerman have been involved with this movement for decades. They see more and more people every year who are in a gray zone between Christianity and Judaism. “Don’t call them Christians. They left the church. They must come home,” pleads Avrahami.
“We’re talking about the two Houses of Israel that the Bible talks about. Many people don’t see it. The Bible is very clear that there are two Houses.
“All this push, millions of people who want to keep Torah, but they are not recognized by Judah. The rabbis don’t want them. How can they come back if Judah doesn’t recognize them? The rabbis must start having their own conferences on these things. You can’t just tell these people to get lost. What do we do with them?” Avrahami asks.
Despite the general rabbinic resistance that Avrahami mentioned, there are a handful of Orthodox rabbis who will be speaking and teaching at the COI conference.
Jerusalem-based Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein tells IJ he will be addressing “a starting point into self-exploration and the power of the question over the power of the answer.” He suggested that Jews might consider attending the conference to serve “as a welcoming committee to people in search of an identity.”
Asked what he thinks about the millions of people coming out of the church and embracing the Hebrew roots of their faith, Gurfein says, “I don’t really think in terms of the church. I think that all of mankind are the children of Noah. A small group, called Jews, were set aside to be servants to the rest of their brothers to help them, as well as help ourselves, come to clarity about our purpose in this world and an authentic connection to the one God.”
Rabbi Aaron Poston of Baka will deliver a Shavuotthemed talk exploring the question of “What did the Israelites really receive at the revelation on Mount Sinai?”
Poston sees the conference as an opportunity to gain clarity. “Many rabbis are being inundated by an extraordinary amount of Christians who are leaving their churches and actively seeing out the truth in the historic roots of the Five Books of Moses. We have a unique opportunity as well as an obligation to truly be a light unto the nations and tell them the truth, in a non-coercive atmosphere.
“As we are experiencing the ingathering of the exiles, we need to be ready for the influx of those without any Jewish educational background, which may include the Lost Ten Tribes as well. We need to be prepared to receive them when they return.
“All Jews should be ready to be teachers. I’m all for Jews being woken out of their slumber and we need to be ready to teach the non-Jew as well who wants to learn more about the Torah. Jews should attend these types of conferences and be ready and open to teach people who are have a hunger to receive the truth,” says Poston.
Spykerman will be speaking about his theory that America is an Israelite nation, descended from the Tribe of Manasseh. He will attempt to prove his theory using the national symbols of the US government. “I think the founding fathers of America knew their true identity and they set the precedent. Almost certainly all American Christians are part of the house of Israel,” he claims.
“Judah has hundreds of millions of brothers and they are not Jews. I think this will be the biggest topic in the future. Over time, it will become a huge topic. Can you imagine the political consequences of this information, when the Islamic world finds out that the millions of Jews in Israel have hundreds of millions, even several billion, brothers?” Spykerman conjectures.
“God cannot have a nation with only two tribes in it. He’s bringing the people back to the Torah so He can have one nation. And until that happens, there can be no redemption,” Avrahami insists.
Spykerman concludes the interview with great enthusiasm, “It’s a whole new world. And it’s so exciting!”
The above article was published in the Jerusalem Post on May 5, 2017.