Who was Eldad ha-Dani? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

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Claiming descent from the long-lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Eldad was a ninth-century traveler with a fantastic story: beyond the “River Kush” lay an intact civilization of Jews who enjoyed political sovereignty, in preparation for their eventual return to the Land of Israel in messianic times. Surviving shipwreck, cannibals and attack from fire-worshipping pagans, Eldad’s story of the mystical river Sambatyon and the Jews who lived there captivated the Jewish mind for centuries, and had a lasting impact on the development of Christian thought as well. But was he for real?

Dr. Abramson is way better in print (and taller, too):

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The Jews of Khazaria

Khazaria and client states. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Khazaria and client states. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

In one of the most bizarre episodes in Jewish history, the Central Asian kingdom of Khazaria converted to Judaism in the eighth century.  Multiple sources confirm the conversion, yet the entire story remains a mystery. What was the nature of their Judaism? More importantly, what happened to them?


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