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Lost Tribes of Israel

Program Overview


NOVA follows anthropologist Tudor Parfitt as he investigates the historical and genetic roots of the Lemba of Soweto in southern Africa who claim to be one of the Lost Tribes of Abraham.

The program:

  • explores the Lemba's claim to be Jewish based on their oral history, religious observances, and social customs.

  • relates Jewish religious traditions, including passing the priesthood from father to son.

  • explains how the Y chromosome carries a genetic marker through generations of males and thus can be used to establish relationships between ancient and modern people.

  • postulates that if the Lemba males have the same unique genetic marker as the priests called Cohanim then their claim of Jewish ancestry is more probable.

  • traces Parfitt's journey to find the original Sena, the town from which the Lemba claim to have originated.

  • follows Parfitt as he collects tissue samples from the Lemba males.

  • concludes that the Lemba Y chromosomes show a number of genetic links with Middle Eastern peoples, and that one Lemba clan in particular possesses the Cohanim gene.

Teacher's Guide
Lost Tribes of Israel
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