Monday, August 30, 2010


Scholarly opinions in favor of the Khazar theory (FROM JEWISH SOURCES)

The idea that Khazars contributed to a certain extent to the gene pool of Eastern European Jewry has been, and still is, championed by a large number of legitimate folklorists and historians, as well as by popular authors. Below is a collection of their viewpoints.

"Is it not probable that among the four millions of Russian Jews, thousands can be traced to the old nomads of the steppes? The study of the Jewish types of Poland and Little-Russia inclines us to believe so. A Finno-Turkish blend seems to be common among them."

- Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, in Israel Among the Nations: A Study of the Jews and Antisemitism (London: William Heinemann, 1904), page 118.

"The strangest fact is that the name of the Ashkenazim, the bulk whom I see as the descendents of the Khazars, points towards the old grounds of the Khazars around the Caucasus... According to the explanation by the Talmud, Ashkenaz thus means a country near the Black Sea between Ararat and the Caucasus, within the original region of the Khazar empire. The name with which the Sefardim indicate their co-religionists from Poland already gives the explanation for the real descent, from the countries in the Caucasus."

- Hugo Freiherr von Kutschera, in Die Chasaren: Historische Studie (Vienna: A. Holzhausen, 1910).

"[Isaac Bär] Levinsohn was the first to express the opinion that the Russian Jews hailed, not from Germany, as is commonly supposed, but from the banks of the Volga. This hypothesis, corroborated by tradition, Harkavy established as a fact. Originally the vernacular of the Jews of Volhynia, Podolia, and Kiev was Russian and Polish, or, rather, the two being closely allied, Palaeo-Slavonic. The havoc wrought by the Crusades in the Jewish communities of Western Europe caused a constant stream of German-Jewish immigrants to pour, since 1090, into the comparatively free countries of the Slavonians. RussoPoland became the America of the Old World. The Jewish settlers from abroad soon outnumbered the native Jews, and they spread a new language and new customs wherever they established themselves. Whether the Jews of Russia were originally pagans from the shores of the Black and Caspian Seas, converted to Judaism under the Khazars during the eighth century, or Palestinian exiles subjugated by their Slavonian conquerors and assimilated with them, it is indisputable that they inhabited what we know to-day as Russia long before the Varangian prince Rurik came, at the invitation of Scythian and Sarmatian savages, to lay the foundation of the Muscovite empire. In Feodosia there is a synagogue at least a thousand years old. The Greek inscription on a marble slab, dating back to 80-81 B. C. E., preserved in the Imperial Hermitage in St. Petersburg, makes it certain that they flourished in the Crimea before the destruction of the Temple."

- Jacob S. Raisin, in The Haskalah Movement in Russia (The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1913), pages 18-19.

"...[The Khazars] spread far and wide to the west and northwest, their modern descendants probably forming the preponderant element among the east European Jews."

- Roland B. Dixon, in The Racial History of Man (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1923)

"We are told of a large tribe of Tartars called the Khazars, who in the eighth century were converted to Judaism and established a Jewish kingdom in southern Russia. Although that kingdom was destroyed by the Russians in the tenth century, no doubt many of the descendants of the Khazars were still living in the region. And no doubt they readily greeted their brethren as they came flocking in from Germany."

- Lewis Browne, in Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day (Macmillan, 1925), pages 237-238.

"The fashion of dismissing the tale about the Khozars as also incredible and therefore untrue is no longer in vogue. Inasmuch as the famous poet philosopher Judah Halevi (1085-1140) founded his Cuzari on the Khozars, the tale was thought to be merely the poetical offspring of his imagination. But history has now accepted the account as undoubtedly true and attributes some of the characteristics of the Russian Jew as due to their descent from Tartars, converted to Judaism, rather than from Jews even of the lost Ten Tribes."

- Elkan Nathan Adler, in Jewish Travellers (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1930), page xiii.

"At about the same time that the Mohammedans had conquered Spain, the king of a people, called Khazars, had become dissatisfied with worshipping idols, and had become a Jew. A great many of his lords, generals, and soldiers had done likewise. Rabbis were then invited to come and teach Jewish laws and customs to the Jewish Khazars. During the two hundred years of the existence of this Jewish kingdom, most of the Khazars had learned the Jewish religion and were living in accordance with its laws. Hasdai rejoiced greatly to learn of the kingdom of the Khazars. Unfortunately, the Russians destroyed it a few years later. You are probably wondering: ''What happened to the Jewish Khazars?'' Some of them mingled with the other Jews of Russia, and the others gradually forgot their Judaism and became Christians."

- Mordechai I. Soloff, in How the Jewish People Grew Up (Cincinnati, OH: The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1936), pages 219, 221.

"Dr. [Itzhak] Schipper believes that diffusion of Jewish Khazarian elements into the Polish kingdom appeared only after the Khazarian kingdom fell. A lot of documents and different town-names attest to the early Jewish immigration to Poland.... At the same time there was another Jewish immigration and colonization from the west, from Germany. Lots of antagonism existed between the eastern and western Jewish immigrants because there were different types of city-buildings.... Polish land was covered mostly with forests, especially in the North and West with wetlands and quagmire, so there was little population. The Khazar people, usually peasants, used primitive tools and were people with less culture. There was antagonism with the more advanced German Jews."

- Emmanuel Ringelblum, in Z'ydzi w Polsce Odrodzonej, edited by Aryeh Hafftka, Itzhak Schipper, and Aleksander Tartakower (Warsaw, 1936), page 38.

"In the early Middle Ages a powerful state, inhabited by the Khazars, existed on the coast of the Black Sea; and early in the eighth century Buland, ruler of the Khazars, formally adopted the Jewish religion. Subsequently this country, like so many other areas of Eastern Europe, was absorbed by the growing power of the Kingdom of Kiev. To the present day the Mongoloid features noticeable among the Polish Jews would indicate that, after the downfall of this Eastern European Jewish state, some, probably the ruling classes, migrated to Poland. Some anthropologists, however, attribute such features to the Mongol invasions."

- Raymond Leslie Buell, in Poland: Key to Europe (New York, NY: A.A. Knopf, 1939), pages 288-289.

"The capital city and lands of the Chazars were finally captured about the middle of the tenth century by the Duke of Kiev; the survivors of this strange kingdom were then scattered through the Crimea, where they were soon lost to history. Yet even today throughout Southern Russia we find Jews whose tall figures, sandy hair and high cheek bones suggest that they may have descended from the almost forgotten Chazars."

- Elma Ehrlich Levinger and Rabbi Lee J. Levinger, in The Story of the Jew for Young People (New York, NY: Behrman's Jewish Book House, 1940), page 107.

"The Khazar nation was scattered. Some of the people fled to northern Russia. They may have become the ancestors of certain Jewish groups who are living at the present time."

- Dorothy F. Zeligs, in A History of Jewish Life in Modern Times for Young People (New York, NY: Bloch Publishing Company, 1950), page 203.

"The circumstances surrounding the beginnings of Jewish settlement in Poland remain nebulous, though it is more than a surmise that the first Jews must have come from the Crimea. After the fall of the Jewish kingdom of Khazaria, they continued to arrive, fleeing from the Russian boyars of Kiev who after several centuries of vassalage to the Jewish kings had finally risen in revolt and conquered them. In time, these Khazar Jews blended with the other Jewish elements in Poland and ultimately lost their ethnic group identity."

- Nathan Ausubel, in Pictorial History of the Jewish People (New York, NY: Crown, 1953), page 133.

"In 1016 the descendants of the Jewish royal family fled to their coreligionists in Spain. Many of the Jewish Khazars, however, continued to live in the Crimea.... But the majority of the early Khazar proselytes were scattered over the neighboring countries, introducing Jewish ideals among their Christian neighbors. Some estimate that from sixty to seventy per cent of the Jews of Southern Russia are not of Semitic descent."

- Jacob S. Raisin, in Gentile Reactions to Jewish Ideals (New York, NY: Philosophical Library, 1953), page 691.

"The first Jews to settle in Lithuania in the 11th century came from the land of the Khazars, on the lower Volga River, from Crimea on the Black Sea and from Bohemia. Originally, the Jews came to the land of the Khazars from the Byzantine kingdom, where they had been oppressed. The Khazars had welcomed the Jews and later had been converted to Judaism. When the Khazars were overrun by the Mongols and Russians, the Jews settled in Lithuania, whose rulers, at that time, were extremely tolerant."

- Sidney L. Markowitz, in What You Should Know About Jewish Religion, History, Ethics and Culture (New York, NY: Citadel Press, 1955).

"The immigration (originally transmigration) of Jews to Poland started in the middle of the IX century. It took place at the same time from Western Europe and from the East (that is from the state of the Chazars, whose state religion was Judaism. Chazars was situated in the vicinity of Kiev and extended to the Dniestr; it ceased to exist in 969)."

- Michal M. Borwicz, in A Thousand Years of Jewish Life in Poland (Paris, 1955).

"It is known that the khagan of the Khazars and many of his subjects had yielded to the Jewish propaganda coming mainly from the numerous Jewish colonies in the Crimea. They accepted the Jewish creed -- the first case of a large part of one nation becoming Jewish at such a late period. The Khazars were otherwise a very tolerant nation. They are probably to some extent the ancestors of the eastern Jews. Driven by the Cumans and the Mongols from their homeland, many of the Jewish Khazars were settled in Poland by the Polish kings. There they mixed with western Jews."

- Francis Dvornik, in The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization (Boston, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1956), pages 196-197.

"But before and after the Mongol upheaval, the Khazars sent many offshoots into the unsubdued Slavonic lands, helping ultimately to build up the great Jewish centers of eastern Europe."

- Salo Wittmayer Baron, in A Social and Religious History of the Jews (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1957), volume 3, page 206.

"Descendants of the Khazars, men noteworthy for their learning and piety, were known long after in Toledo.... And, to the present day, the Mongoloid features common amongst the Jews of eastern Europe are, in all probability, a heritage from these 'proselytes of righteousness' of ten centuries ago."

- Cecil Roth, in A Short History of the Jewish People (London: Horovitz [East and West Library], 1959), page 288.

"In the same period there began an influx of Chazar Jews from the East. At first this was essentially a trade immigration, but towards the end of the 10th century, after the fall of the Chazar state, it assumed larger proportions. The immigrants of this period turned mainly to agriculture and handicrafts. These colonies or settlements occurred in the southern and eastern parts of the future Polish state."

- Kazimierz and Maria Piechotka, in Wooden Synagogues (Warsaw: Arkady, 1959; originally appeared in a Polish-language edition), English edition, page 9.

"Poland received many Jews seeking to escape from the oppressions of the Crusades and the Black Death, as well as survivors of the Jewish kingdom of Khazaria."

- Meyer Levin and Toby K. Kurzband, in The Story of the Jewish Way of Life (New York, NY: Behrman House, 1959), page 48.

"The Khazars were a warlike people, and succeeded in extending their rule and influence. They were subjected to occasional attacks by the Byzantines and later by the Russians. By the end of the 10th century they succumbed to the Russians, and after maintaining themselves for a short period in the Crimea, some gradually embraced the Christian or Moslem faith, ceasing to exist as a separate people, though many joined with their Jewish brethren."

- David Bridger and Samuel Wolk (editors), in article "Khazars" (pp. 265-266) in The New Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, NY: Behrman House, 1962), page 266.

"Far away, on the steppes of Southern Russia, a whole nation had been converted to Judaism several hundred years ago. Could it be true? Hasdai sends a letter to the king of this foreign people, the Chazars, and receives an answer: the story is true... They were to exist to the thirteenth century, when they were defeated, their remnants joining the Jewish or Christian communities."

- Leo Trepp, in Eternal Faith, Eternal People: A Journey into Judaism (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1962), page 143.

"Polish scholars agree that these oldest [Polish Jewish] settlements were founded by Jewish emigres from the Khazar state and Russia, while the Jews from Southern and Western Europe began to arrive and settle only later... and that a certain portion at least of the Jewish population (in earlier times, the main bulk) originated from the east, from the Khazar country, and later from Kievian Russia."

- Adam Vetulani, in his article "The Jews of Mediaeval Poland," in Jewish Journal of Sociology, volume 4 (December, 1962), page 274.

"In Khazaria, perched precariously on the trackless steppe extending between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, Jewish merchants and refugees from the persecutions of the Byzantine Empire managed to convert the king, many of his nobles, and a considerable portion of the nomadic, Khazarian population.... With the disappearance of the Khazarian kingdom under the blows of the Russians, the Jews and Jewish Khazars settled in the Crimea, in Hungary, and in Lithuania."

- Jacob Berhard Agus, in The Meaning of Jewish History (New York, NY: Abelard-Schuman, 1963), page 237.

"It is clear, however, that the influence of the Jews, who had become the most active agents of the commerce of the Caliphate, was substantial in the Khazar kingdom, and it is probable that the commonly observed mongoloid type among East European Jews, particularly in the Ukraine, Poland and Roumania, derives from the conversions and intermarriages which were no doubt frequent in the swarming trading camps of the Khaqans."

- W. E. D. Allen, in The Ukraine (New York, NY: Russell and Russell, 1963), pages 8-9.
"Meanwhile the bulk of the victims of expulsion, massacre, and persecution were to be found in the territory between the Black Sea and the Baltic, most of which was part of the kingdom of Poland. There European Jews had met another strand of the Jewish people, Jews who had entered the same area from the south and east. Jewish colonies on the Black Sea and in the Crimea dated back to very early times, and kingdom of the Khazars had left many Jewish relics in lands which are now Ukrainian."

- James Parkes, in A History of the Jewish People (Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books, 1963), pages 105-106.

"Driven out of their country by the Cumans in the 12th century, part of the last Jewish Khazars settled in Poland."

- Françoise Godding-Ganshof, in article "Khazars" (pp. 214-215) in Chamber's Encyclopedia, vol. 8 (Oxford, England: Pergamon Press, 1966), page 215.

"It is likely too that some Khazar progeny reached the various Slavic lands where they helped to build the great Jewish centers of Eastern Europe."

- Abba Solomon Eban, in My People: The Story of the Jews (New York, NY: Behrman House, 1968), page 150.

"It would of course be foolish to deny that Jews of different origin also contributed to the existing Jewish world-community. The numerical ratio of the Khazar to the Semitic and other contributions is impossible to establish. But the cumulative evidence makes one inclined to agree with the concensus of Polish historians that 'in earlier times the main bulk originated from the Khazar country'; and that, accordingly, the Khazar contribution to the genetic make-up of the Jews must be substantial, and in all likelihood dominant."

- Arthur Koestler, in The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage (London: Hutchinson, 1976 and New York, NY: Random House, 1976), page 180.

" may be stated at present that well-documented findings concerning the culture of the Jewries of western Europe in the Middle Ages, as well as evidence leading directly to the recognition of the movement eastward of important segments of those Jewries during late medieval times, leave no room for the hypothesis that the Jews of postmedieval Europe were descended primarily from the Khazars. That, however, those among the Khazars who adopted Judaism as their religion came to form a part of the Ukrainian component of eastern European Jews, and eventually to be assimilated by it, can hardly be doubted on the basis of our present state of knowledge."

- Norman Golb and Omeljan Pritsak, in Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), page xv. In later separate writings by Golb (Jewish Proselytism, 1988) and Pritsak ("The Pre-Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe in Relation to the Khazars, the Rus' and the Lithuanians." In Ukrainian-Jewish Relations in Historical Perspective, 1990), however, the view that virtually no Jews are descended from the Khazars is expressed.

"There is little reason to doubt that Jews had lived in Poland from the earliest times, and that Judaism, as preserved by the descendants of the ancient Chazar kingdom in the southeast, had actually antedated Christianity."

- Norman Davies, in God's Playground: A History of Poland, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1982), volume 1, page 79.

"The Khazar Jewish kingdom was a fascinating episode in Russian Jewish History.... The Jews dispersed into Russia, Armenia, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean coast. It is likely that many of the Jews of these regions are descended from Khazar refugees."

- Richard Haase, in Jewish Regional Cooking (Secaucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1985), page 56.

"Poland was Christianized in 966, at a time when Jews already lived there. The first ones came from the Khazar state of Russia and Kievan Rus. Late in the eleventh century, Jews fleeing from persecution in southern and western Europe arrived. Not, however, until the fifteenth century did large numbers of Jews begin to live in Poland."

- Meyer Weinberg, in Because They Were Jews: A History of Anti-Semitism (Greenwood Press, 1986), page 153.

"East European Jews, especially the Ukrainian, Moldovian (Bessarabian), Azerbaijanian, Georgian, and Armenian Jews are actually a fusion of Byzantine-Greek Jews, Babylonian Jews from the Abbasid Caliphate, Yiddish-speaking German-Polish Jews, sixteenth Century Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and Khazars. This is the bloodline of these Russian Jews... However, the most strongly Khazar of the Jews are undoubtedly the Hungarian Jews, descendants of the last Khazars who fled into Hungary about 1200-1300, where they were received by their former vassals, the Magyar kings. The Hungarian Jews are definitely a fusion of Semitic German Jews and the Turkic Khazars with some Sephardic immigrants who came to Hungary by way of Italy in the 1500's escaping the Spanish Inquisition."

- Monroe Rosenthal and Isaac Mozeson, in Wars of the Jews: A Military History from Biblical to Modern Times (New York, NY: Hippocrene Books, 1990), page 224.

"As the conquering Lithuanians moved south through Byelorussia, Volkynia, and the Ukraine, they came upon towns with either established Jewish communities or a Jewish presence. These communities were established by a mixture of Jews who came via Khazaria, Khazarian Jews and Jews who came directly from older communities. What was the proportion of each or their numbers is not known."

- Stuart and Nancy Schoenburg, in Lithuanian Jewish Communities (New York, NY: Garland, 1991 and Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996), page 10.

"Jews are the largest and most important of these nationalities... According to some historians, many of them are descended from the Khazars, a people who ruled much of the Volga-Dnieper basin the seventh to ninth centuries and converted to Judaism en masse in the eighth century. Others are descended from a large colony of Jews who settled in Ukraine when it was ruled by a religiously tolerant Poland."

- William G. Andrews, in The Land and People of the Soviet Union (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1991), page 183.

"It is very likely that Judaized Khazar elements, especially those that had acculturated to the cities, contributed to the subsequently Slavic-speaking Jewish communities of Kievan Rus'. These were ultimately absorbed by Yiddish-speaking Jews entering the Ukraine and Belorussia from Poland and Central Europe. In the same way, one may conjecture that Khazar Muslims contributed to the Turkic-speaking and Turko-Muslim communities of the Volga basin and North Caucasus."

- Peter Benjamin Golden, in An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples (Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1992), pages 243-244.

"How and why Jews first reached Lithuania is a matter of informed hypothesis. Historian Abraham Elijahu Harkavi maintains that they came from Babylonia and elsewhere in the Near East in the ninth and tenth centuries C.E., after the decline of the Jewish communities there. Harkavi also believes that Jews reached Lithuania from the shortlived but flourishing Jewish state of the Khazars, who were among the founders of Kiev in 865. The Khazars lost their kingdom in 969 to the Russian princes, who introduced the Russian Orthodox Church... Thus inspired, the Russians expelled the Jews..., who moved en masse to the then-Lithuanian towns of Gardinas (Grodno), Minsk, Pinsk..."

- Masha Greenbaum, in The Jews of Lithuania: A History of a Remarkable Community 1316-1945 (Jerusalem: Gefen, 1995), page 2.

"It is in the fusion of autochthonous Jews with semi-Jewish Khazars and Kabars in the tenth century that we must seek the earliest demographic basis of the Jewish population of medieval Hungary."

- Raphael Patai, in The Jews of Hungary (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1996), page 29.

" should remember that the Khazars were described by several contemporary authors as having a pale complexion, blue eyes, and reddish hair. Red, as distinguished from blond, hair is found in a certain percentage of East European Jews, and this, as well as the more generalized light coloring, could be a heritage of the medieval Khazar infusion."

- Raphael Patai and Jennifer Patai, in The Myth of the Jewish Race (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1989), page 72.

"Jews from central Europe first settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the second half of the 14th century. Early examples are the communities of Brest-Litovsk and Grodno, established by Jews from Poland with charters from Duke Vitold, similar to those granted by Bolislav the Pious to Jews of Great Poland. Among the Jews of the southwestern districts of the Lithuanian Duchy, annexed to the Kingdom of Poland toward the end of the 14th century, were descendants of Jews from oriental countries, including a few of Khazar stock. They differed from the Ashkenazis in both language and cultural traditions."

- Shmuel Arthur Cygielman, in Jewish Autonomy in Poland and Lithuania until 1648 (5408) (Jerusalem, 1997).

"Eventually, the Khazaria kingdom fell. Evidently, some of its Jewish population went to Eastern Europe and the rest disappeared."

- Lawrence Jeffrey Epstein, in Questions and Answers on Conversion to Judaism (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1998), page 176.

"Jewish-Khazarian settlement in Kiev can be traced to the 10th century; the Russian-speaking community was later absorbed by Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Central Europe."

- in the entry "Ukraine" in The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by Klenicki, Schiff, and Schreiber (Schreiber Publishing, 1998), page 267.

"The descendants of the Khazars reached eastern and central Europe. There is substantial evidence that some of them settled in Slavic lands, where they took part in establishing the major Jewish centers of eastern Europe.... It is also widely believed that many Khazar Jews fled to Poland to avoid forced baptism. Moreover, some of the groups that migrated from eastern to central Europe have been called Khazars and may have originated in the former Khazar empire. Some apparently fled into northern Hungary, where, to this day, there are villages that bear such names as Kozar and Kozardie."

- Robert and Elinor Slater, in Great Moments in Jewish History (Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David, 1999), page 87.

"Unfortunately, in 1016 C.E., the Russians, with the help of Byzantium, crushed the Khazar kingdom and brought it to a close. What happened to all the Khazar Jews, both the descendants of the converts and the settlers, is shrouded in mystery. They were certainly dispersed in many of the neighboring lands. It is conceivable, according to some scholars, that some of them are the forebears of the Polish and Russian Jews of previous generations. Who knows? If your ancestors came from these lands, you may have the blood of kings in you - not David and Solomon, but kings who voluntarily chose to join the fate of a people whose religion they acknowledged as true."

- Rabbi Benjamin Blech, in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture (Alpha Books, 1999), pages 161-162.

"Before they arrived in present-day Hungary, the Magyars had lived in Central Asia relatively near the famous Khazars, who had converted to Judaism in the eighth century. When the Magyars left the area, many Khazar Jews joined them on their trek westward. In southern Hungary, archaeologists discovered a Khazar ring engraved with Hebrew letters. These Khazars joined the pre-existing Jews of Hungary and formed communities in the main cities, including Buda."

- Eli Valley, in The Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999), page 377.

"Thus, the Ashkenazic ethnogenesis, having been formed by migrations from the East (Khazaria), West (e.g., Germany, Austria, Bohemia), and South (e.g., Greece, Mesopotamia, Khorasan), is more complex than previously envisioned." (EDITOR'S NOTE: THE "MESOPOTAMIA" REFERENCE IS A LOADED CONCLUSION, HOWEVER THE QUOTE IS QUITE PROFITABLE AND INSIGHTFUL. IT IS MY OBSERVATION AND CONCLUSION THAT THE ASHKENAZIM ARE AN INTRIGUING FUSION OF EDOMITE AND KHAZAR STOCK, LEANING MORE TOWARDS THE KHAZAR EXTRACTION.)

- Kevin Alan Brook, in The Jews of Khazaria (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999), page xv.

"During the Middle Ages, a large group of Jews came from Germany and eastern lands to Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine.... Another group emanated from the lands of the Khazars, relates the Encyclopedia Judaica."

- Ben G. Frank, in A Travel Guide to Jewish Russia and Ukraine (Gretna, LA: Pelican, 1999), page 63.

"In the tenth and eleventh centuries, as the Khazar state disintegrated, and into the thirteenth century, as the Cuman and Mongol hordes pushed large numbers of refugees westward, Khazar and Khazar-influenced groups professing Judaism - including the probably highly committed Levites - migrated into Eastern Europe, where they mixed with other Jewish groups moving east from Germany and north from Italy."

- David Keys, in Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2000), pages 100-101.

"During their period of decline many Khazars were killed in battle, sold into slavery, or forced to convert to Islam or Christianity. A sizable number probably intermarried with the Crimean Jews. Others fled to the West (meaning Poland and southern Russia) where they intermarried with Ashkenazi Jews."

- Ken Blady, in Jewish Communities in Exotic Places (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2000), page 118.

"An important Jewish center was established in Kiev, the Khazarian border stronghold. After the conquest of Khazaria by Rus, the Khazarian Jews moved northward. Simultaneously, Eastern Europe was reached by Jews from the West."

- Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of Communism, ed. by Richard Frucht (Garland, 2000), page 402.

"It is even possible that Jewish survivors of the Khazar kingdom near the Caspian Sea made their way to Poland after that kingdom's destruction during the thirteenth century Mongol invasions."

- Lloyd P. Gartner, in History of the Jews in Modern Times (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), page 19.
"...the 18th-century Yiddish-speaking Jews who lived in German- and Slavic-speaking areas and considered themselves Ashkenazic, actually were descended from three independent sources. The first, very important source, was the Rhineland in western Germany; the second one was the area of the modern Czech Republic, an area that medieval Jewish rabbinic literature called 'West Canaan.' The third and marginal center called 'East Canaan' corresponded to modern Ukraine in which one part of the Jews were of Khazarian origin."

- Alexander Beider, in his article "The Influence of Migrants from Czech Lands on Jewish Communities in Central and Eastern Europe," in Avotaynu, volume 16, number 2 (Summer 2000), page 20.

"When, in 1016, a joint Russian and Byzantine army defeated the already much weakened Khazar army, these 'Khazar' Jews were forced to flee once more... These Jews were no longer simply the descendants of Jewish refugees from Greece and Persia. Intermarriage with original Khazars who had been converted to Judaism had introduced central Asian features, high cheek-bones and Oriental eyes... With the destruction of Khazaria some of the Jews found their way back to Greece and the Mediterranean, exiles once more. But many must have taken back with their Russian conquerors to the lands of southern Russia - to Kiev and Kharkov... The Khazar Jews who settled in Russia were not particularly liked or welcomed. Such historical records as survive show for example that a hundred years after their arrival anti-Jewish riots broke out in Kiev itself and many were killed.... Meanwhile, in the very same years that the defeated Jewish Khazars - and there was a second Khazar Diaspora following the Mongol invasion of the area in the thirteenth century - were finding new homes in southern Russia, another group of Jews, numerically much larger, were being driven out of their homes, along the river Rhine."

- Martin Gilbert, in Letters to Auntie Fori: 5000 Years of Jewish History (New York, NY: Schocken, 2002), pages 147-148.

"It's even possible that my ancestry might not move in the direction of ancient Israel at all.... After 965, the Khazars were through as an organized power, but Judaism may have remained, and it may well be that many East European Jews are descended from Khazars and the people they ruled. I may be one of them. Who knows? And who cares?.... Where did all this [my family's European physical traits] come from? Surely not from any Mediterranean or Turkish people. It had to be of Slavic origin and Scandinavian beyond that - plus a bit of Mongol to account for my B-type blood."

- Isaac Asimov, in It's Been A Good Life (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002), chapter 1.

"During the period of decline, many Khazars converted to Islam or Christianity, but some, who remained Jews, migrated westward, and are historically documented in several East European countries and cities, including Kiev. According to one sweeping theory, the original and dominant stratum of East European Jewry is of Khazar origin."

- Rivka Gonen, in The Quest for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel: To the Ends of the Earth (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2002), page 73.

"Wrotizla's (= Wroclaw/Breslau) Jewish community clearly predated the earliest records of existance. Jewish merchants had been active in Central and Eastern Europe from Khazar times. ... And it has been contended that a Jewish community functioned in Poland from the tenth century onwards, stimulated by a Jewish presence to the east in the former Khazaria."

- Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse, in Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City (London: Jonathan Cape, 2002), page 91.

"Apparently, part of the Khazar Jews remained in their areas of settlement because there is evidence of a messianic movement among the Jewish Khazars of the Crimea. Others returned to the Caucasus and there augmented the Jews who had earlier immigrated from Persia. They formed the core of the 'Mountain Jews' who even today live in communities rich in tradition. Khazar Jews also settled in Kiev and other cities in Rus', as well as in Poland."

- Heiko Haumann, in A History of East European Jews (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2002), pages 6-7.

"Although it was particularly in the East, in the hospitable regions of Poland and Lithuania, that the German Jews sought refuge as their condition grew worse, we cannot conclude that the Polish Jews were solely of Western origin. On the contrary, it is quite probable that during the first millennium of our era the first Jews to penetrate into the territories between the Oder and the Dnieper came from the southeast, from the Jewish kingdom of the Khazars, or even from the south, from Byzantium. We are not sure about the relative proportions of the two groups; what is important is that the superior culture of the German Jews permitted them rapidly to impose their language and customs as well as their extraordinarily sensitive historical consciousness."

- Leon Poliakov, in The History of Anti-Semitism: From the Time of Christ to the Court Jews, trans. Richard Howard (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), page 246.

"One of the oldest documents to come from Kiev, which makes reference to the city in the 9th century, was written in Hebrew. Some believe that Kiev's Jewish population was a remnant of the Khazar Khaganate (Khazaria) -- a Judaic-Turkic kingdom in the northern Caucasus that died out around the 11th century. Others suppose the Ashkenazi Jews reached Europe by passing through Crimea, and into the trading capital of early-12th-century Kiev."

- Andrew Evans, in Kiev: The Bradt City Guide (Bucks, England: Bradt Travel Guides, 2004), page 256.

"I personally believe, as did Arthur Koestler, that if part of the Khazars integrated with the Russian kingdom at its formation, the majority of them fled to Central Europe, where they met the flow of Jewish immigrants from France and Germany that came as a result of the Crusades. And from their meeting the Ashkenazi Jews were born. The surnames Kagan and Kaganovitch, and the names of villages in Poland like Kaganka, attest in this area to the presence of Jewish Khazars."

- Marek Halter, in L'Empire khazar, eds. Jacques Piatigorsky and Jacques Sapir (Paris: Autrement, 2005), page 12.

"...let us note only that Jews already appeared in Central Europe and Eastern Europe before the fall of the Khazar state, which makes the assumption of Koestler [that East European Jews are mostly Khazars] less probable. One can, however, admit the idea that one part of the Khazar population practicing Judaism would have been absorbed by the Ashkenazim."

- Alexei Terechtchenko, in L'Empire khazar, eds. Jacques Piatigorsky and Jacques Sapir (Paris: Autrement, 2005), page 78.

"The problem with this long-held notion that the Jews and their Yiddish pushed ever eastward is one of numbers. Three million Jews eventually settled in Eastern Europe; only a fraction of that kind of population could have possibly migrated east from Germany. More likely, goes a rising tide of opinion, Yiddish spread in the opposite direction, westward from Russia. The population explosion in Eastern European Jews can probably be accounted for by the voluntary mass conversion to Judaism in 740 C.E. by the Turkic Khazars, who had settled on the steppes of southern Russia."

- Neal Karlen, in The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-mosh of Languages Saved the Jews (New York: William Morrow, 2008), page 62.

There are also similar sentiments in many other works by other authors. For instance, J.S. Hertz, a Yiddish-language historian, in Di Yidn in Ukrayne: fun di eltste tsaytn biz nokh tah vetat (New York: Unzer tsayt farlag, 1949), argued that most Ukrainian Jews and many other Eastern European Jews are Khazarian. Abraham N. Poliak, a Hebrew-language historian from Israel, wrote a book Kazariyah (first published in the 1940s) in which he argues that Eastern European Jews are predominantly Khazarian. Arthur Koestler borrowed heavily from Poliak's works when writing The Thirteenth Tribe during 1973 and 1974. Early proponents of the Khazar theory included the Polish scholars Tadeusz Czacki (1765-1813) and Max (Maksymilian) Gumplowicz (1864-1897), the Ukrainian Jewish scholar Isaac Baer Levinsohn (1788-1860), and the Russian Jewish doctor/anthropologist Samuel Weissenberg (1867-?) [in his 1895 book Die südrussischen Juden. Eine anthrometrische Studie]. Itzhak Schipper (1884-1943), a Polish Jewish historian who wrote in Polish and Yiddish, argued that the Polish Jews are largely Khazarian. Schipper wrote: "The activities of certain groups among the Jews who immigrated to Poland in ancient times and engaged in agriculture is evidenced by the Jewish villages that we find in Poland and Russia during the early Middle Ages. The names of these villages prove the origin of the people who lived in them. They are: Zidow, Zhidowo, Sidowo, or Kozara, Kozari, and Kozhazhow. There can be little doubt that the earliest of them were those villages whose names derive from that of the Khazars. It is possible that these Jewish Khazar settlements came into being during the 10th century, when a wave of Khazar immigrants arrived in Poland and Russia seeking refuge after the collapse of their state." Schipper also thought that Khazarian Jews founded the Polish city of Ciechanowiec, partly because he thought that the nearby village of Kosarze and a street that he interpreted to be "Khazar Street" were traces of Khazars. The quote I gave from Piechotka and Piechotka is influenced by Schipper's opinion of what happened to the Khazars. Samuel V. Kurinsky, an American archaeologist with extensive knowledge of Jewish history, alleged that Jews from Khazaria settled in Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland in his 1991 book The Glassmakers. Denis Sobolov also supports the Khazar theory. The Jewish historian Julius Brutzkus also did.

Then there are the works of Abraham Elija Harkavy, a Russian-language historian of the late 19th century who was familiar with some of the basic Hebrew sources for Khazarian history. I have already quoted from Greenbaum, who summarizes his views. Harkavy's theory that Khazarian and Middle-Eastern Jews came into Poland is supportable by a number of factors, and may yet gain added credence if Yaffa Eliach is correct in saying (in her 1998 book There Once Was A World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok) that the first five Jewish families to settle in the town of Eishyshok in Lithuania came from Babylonia. Since Eliach (whose family spoke Yiddish just like other Lithuanian Jews) herself claims descent from these Oriental Jews, that is perhaps another clue that Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews are the descendants of multiple migrations from diverse locations and not simply late-medieval arrivals from Germany. And there are many other historians and archaeologists who have argued that Russian and Polish Jews derive in part from Oriental and Khazarian Jews.

Notable modern Jews and Jewish communities who claim Khazar ancestry

Dan Rottenberg, author of "Finding Our Fathers: A Guidebook to Jewish Genealogy" (1st edition, 1977), has ancestors from the Austrian and Russian empires. Some of his wife's ancestors were allegedly Khazars. Karen De Witt, in The Washington Post, wrote the following on page B3, in the Saturday, August 20, 1977 issue, in her article "Family Lore and the Search for Jewish 'Roots'": "Rottenberg, who has traced his and his wife's family back to the early 1800s and found one line that goes back to the Khazar kingdom in the Crimea, which dates to the 8th century, notes that there is only a finite number of Jews in the world." And Rottenberg wrote in his book "Finding Our Fathers" on page 45: "In any case, some East European Jews, and perhaps a great many, are descended from the Khazars. Figuring out whether you are or aren't of Khazar ancestry may be impossible, but some families seem to have clues. For example, a branch of my wife's family named Tamarin, from Russia, maintains that the family came into Judaism via the Khazar conversion and that the family took its name from Tamara, queen of Georgia in the thirteenth century."

The family of Ehud Ya'ari, a top Israeli journalist who produced the 1997 documentary Mamlekhet ha-Kuzarim, also claims some Khazarian roots. Michael Ajzenstadt, in The Jerusalem Post, wrote the following on page 5 in the March 17, 1997 issue, in his article "An Incredible Journey to the Lost Empire of the Khazars": "[Ehud Ya'ari is quoted as saying:] "As a child I heard that our family has some Khazarian blood and for 30 years now I have been trying to find information about this exciting subject.... [I am] a soldier in the last battle of the Khazar kingdom, a battle for the right to be remembered.... And finally I would like to secure funds to continue excavations in several places, which looked quite promising. My sexiest dream is to find the actual tomb of one of the Khazar kings. I believe that if we achieve that it will be as important-at least as the discovery of Troy or of the treasures of the Pharaohs in the Pyramids."

Some Jews from the shtetl Kurilovich, in Moldova, claim "Tartar" ancestry: "In 1923, my father, who was born in the Jewish colonies of Baron Hirsch, visited the small-town of Kurilovich, near Kishinev, between Moldavia and Bessarabia, from where their parents had come to Argentina. Old relatives of the town assured him that the family lived there for 500 years, and added this phrase that fed my fantasies for a long time: 'We are Jewish Tartars'. The 5 centuries would correspond exactly to the time at which the descendants of the Khazars dispersed from Crimea. And the usage of 'Tartars' instead of 'Khazars'? Perhaps a slip of the tongue and of the memory, that the historians will not delay in correcting." - Alicia Dujovne Ortiz, "El fantasma de los jázaros", La Nación (Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 19, 1999).

A relative of a Transylvanian Jew who has been in touch with me once told him "We are not Semites - we are white Turks from far to the East, and our homes were destroyed by the Russians." These are the Jews of the town Sfîntu Gheorghe in what is now Romania. Though their community had intermingled with some Hungarians and Romanians, they remained a cohesive community with knowledge of its Turkic origins for centuries. In the 1990s a genealogical expedition hired by my Transylvanian Jewish acquaintance found confirmation of the tradition that these Jews are Turkic. That does not prove that they were Khazars. They could have been Tatars or Kipchaks (Cumans) or Oghuzes. But most likely they were Khazars, as the Khazars converted to standard Judaism in larger numbers than any other Turkic group.

There are also isolated cases of Jews from certain towns in Ukraine and Lithuania who claim Khazar ancestry. Stories like these help to contradict the opinion of Leon Wieseltier in "You Don't Have to Be Khazarian: The Thirteenth Tribe, by Arthur Koestler" (New York Review of Books, October 28, 1976) on page 34 that there are no memories of a Khazar heritage among any modern Jews.

Extracted from: "Are Russian Jews Descended from the Khazars?: A Reassessment Based upon the Latest Historical, Archaeological, Linguistic, and Genetic Evidence" by Kevin Alan Brook. This page is Copyright © 2000-2010 by Kevin Brook, all rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of this page is prohibited. Source:

Editor's Disclaimer: Kevin Alan Brook holds to the view that Eastern European Jews descend both from Khazarian Jews AND from Israelite Jews. I dismiss this, however, based on the quotes he presents. Clearly, he does this for political and strategic reasons. Mr. Brook knows the "philo-semitic" literary world in which he writes.

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