The article focuses on the community of Bene Ephraim (the Children of Ephraim, in Hebrew), who in the late 1980s declared that they belonged to the Lost Tribes of Israel. This group stems from a community of the Madiga untouchables of Andhra Pradesh and at the moment has about 100 active members, who have embraced Judaism and have expressed a desire to move to the state of Israel. On the basis of a year-long fieldwork among them, we suggest that their case problematizes conventional notions about the alleged ‘ethnocentricity’ of Judaism and presents a new challenge for public and academic debates about the meaning of being Jewish. At the same time, we demonstrate that Bene Ephraim are under pressure to modify their narrative of origin and to renegotiate community membership in order to become a more ‘conventional’ Jewish group in the eyes of Israeli authorities.
Egorova, Y., & Perwez, S. (2010). The Children of Ephraim: Being Jewish in Andhra Pradesh. Anthropology Today, 26(6), 14-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8322.2010.00770.x