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The Conspiracy of the Origin of Ashkenazi Jews

In this video, we’re looking at a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims that Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the Khazars. If it were true, that would make Ashkenazim offshoots of a multi-ethnic conglomerate of Turkic people who converted en masse in the eight century in the kingdom of Khazaria. Turns out, it’s totally false. Unlike other conspiracy theories, though, it’s not just a fringe few who are pushing this idea. It has the backing of academics, including some in Israel – with dangerous implications. The hypothesis has been disproved, so why does it continue to resonate and how did an attempt to use the theory to fight back against antisemitism in the 1970s end up fueling anti-Israel rhetoric to this day? After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. What are the two largest denominations of Jews?
    • Sephardi and Mizrachi
    • Ashkenazi and Yemenites
    • Ethiopians and Sephardi
    • Sephardi and Ashkenazi
  2. Which of the following regions did Sephardi Jews not flee to after the Alhambra Decree?
    • Eastern Europe
    • North Africa
    • The Balkans
    • Southern Europe
  3. According to the debunked Khazar theory, Ashkenazi Jews descend from:
    • Jewish migrants from Jerusalem and Babylonia
    • Khazarian converts from modern day Russia and Ukraine
    • Jewish migrants from Italy
    • Khazarian converts from Spain
  4. Ashkenazi Jews do not share similar genetics with which group of people?
    • Sephardic Jews
    • Other Middle Eastern people
    • Kohanim / priests
    • Khazars
  5. Why does Yiddish, the language of Askhenazi Jews debunk the Khazar theory?
    • It has no trace of Tukic origin
    • It is a Germanic language
    • It has Hebrew and Aramaic words
    • All of the above
  1. Why do anti-semites and anti-zionists push the Khazar theory? What goal are many trying to achieve by pushing this false theory?
  2. How is the Khazar theory used to delegitimize the Jewish claims to the land of Israel
  3. Why is the Khazar theory offensive to non-Ashkenazi Jews?
  4. What is the best way to respond to false conspiracy theories?
  5. Why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories?
  1. Give your students our Kahoot on the Conspiracy of the Origin of Ashkenazi Jews!

 

This lesson does not contain reflection questions.

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