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No. 127: Jan-Feb 2000

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A FAR-WANDERING TRIBE?

"The Lemba, a Bantu-speaking people of southern Africa have a tradition that they were led out of Judea by a man named Buba. They practice circumcision, keep one day a week holy and avoid eating pork or piglike animals."

As the author of the above words, N. Wade, is quick to point out, there are several other groups of people around the world who practice Judaic rites or claim to be of Jewish ancestry but have no provable ancestral connections.

The Lemba, however, also have a genetic tie. Lemba males carry a distinctive set of genetic mutations in their Y chromosomes. This particular genetic characteristic is strongly associated with the cohanim, the Jewish priests said to be descendants of Aaron. This genetic trait is less common among lay Jews (only 3-5%) and very, very rare among non-Jews. This "cohen genetic" signature (cohen = priest) is considered diagnostic of populations of Jewish ancestry.

(Wade, Nicholas; "DNA Confirms Jewish Ancestry of African Tribe," Houston Chronicle, May 10, 1999. Cr. D. Phelps. Anonymous; "DNA Ties African Group to Jews," Chicago Sun-Times, May 10, 1999. Cr. J. Cieciel)

From Science Frontiers #127, JAN-FEB 2000. 1997 William R. Corliss