Groups Claiming Affiliation With Israelites
Significant numbers of Jewish communities commenced to exist outside of the Land of Israel following the fall of the Israelite northern Kingdom of Israel in about the 720s BCE to the Assyrian Empire and of the southern Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE to the Babylonian Empire. These communities came into existence as a result of Jews fleeing the land before the onslaught of invading forces, because of forced deportations, or enslavement, and sometimes voluntarily. Some families or whole communities have had to move from one country to another because of persecutions, and some just ceased to exist. Though some form of contact had been maintained between most of the main Jewish communities in the diaspora over the millennia, contact had been lost with some communities, which came to be regarded by the mainstream communities as lost.
As a result of the isolation of some communities, the practices and observances have diverged in some respects. Several groups of people from diverse parts of the world have claimed an affiliation with or descent from the ancient Israelites. Some claim such affiliation on the basis of affinity to the Jewish people, while other groups claim such affiliation independently of such affinity.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, affiliation to the Israelites is raised in the form of "who is a Jew?", which arises in the context of an individual's or group's request to immigrate to Israel under that country's Law of Return.
It is generally accepted that the Jews and the Samaritans are descendants of the ancient Israelites, though some commentators have questioned the historicity of the descent.
Read more about Groups Claiming Affiliation With Israelites: Affiliation Claimed in Membership With The Jewish People, Samaritans
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