The Pathans, also called Afghans, or the sons of Pashtu,identify themselves by their ancient name “Sons of Israel” (Bnei Israel), although they live today as Muslims. Their ancient customs and other data indicate a definite connection with the Jewish People.Many Pathan names resemble those of the Tribes of Israel, such as Rabbani (Reuven), Shinwari (Shimon), etc. Some have similar physical features to Jews, such as a paler complexion, long noses and some have blue eyes. Most Pathans grow beards and side-locks. They have a tradition of performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth. They wear a rectangular fringeless garment. Pathans do not eat horse of camel meat.
There is some evidence that they do not eat meat and dairy foods that were cooked together.
The Sabbath is considered a day of rest and Pathans light a candle to honor the day.
The Kashmiri Nation in Northern India
Many Kashmir researchers believe that most of the inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Ten Tribes, who wandered through the Silk Route, until they reached and settled in Kashmir. The Kashmiris practice a number of Jewish customs that include lighting a candle for the Sabbath, growing side-locks and a beard, displaying a Magen David and others. Kashmiris adjust the lunar calendar to the summer calendar in order to celebrate a spring festival called Pasca.
The Karen people in Northeast Burma
The Karen people in northeast Burma (Myanmar), who trace their origins to the Ten Tribes,
have a clear connection to the Hebrew tradition and to the name “Y-H-W-H”.
The Shinlung (Bnei Menashe) in Northeast India
Located in the mountainous region on the border between India and Myanmar, the Shinlung have a clear tradition of relationship to Zion and the Land of Israel,including the knowledge that they are descendants of the Tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. Many Shinlung customs are similar to Jewish practices, such as the existence of a priest in every village who was responsible for the spiritual and other needs of the community, the priest wore a breastplate. They use a lunar calendar. They prohibit eating the blood of animals. The Shinlung perform a circumcision on the eighth day after birth. They practice levirate marriage and if there is no heir a widow must marry her dead husband’s brother and name the firstborn after him. During menstruation a woman is forbidden contact with her husband and must immerse herself and wash her clothes on completion of menstruation; and much more.
The Chiang-Min Tribe in China
The Chiang-Min tribe lives in the northwestern Chinese state of Szechwan. Before the arrival of Christian influence, the Chiang believed in one G-d and lived a special way of life centered around the offering of sacrifices – both public and domestic or personal. Other customs similar to Judaism include: the first fruits are brought to the priest. To ensure the safety of the home, blood is sprinkled on the doorpost. When a man dies, his brother marries the widow. A woman does not leave her hair uncovered. Men and women do not dance together. The Chiang-Min close off forests for 50 years, after which they have a special ceremony to mark their re-opening.
The Ten Tribes in Japan
The Japanese islands had no contact with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but continued to practice idolatry until the modern age. But a verse in Isaiah of the “men of the far isles” [Isaiah 66, 19-20] who will return to Israel, has given rise to an assumption that the Japanese, or at least some of them, are descendants of the Ten Tribes.Many Japanese traditions are similar to Jewish customs: the structure of Shinto temples is based on three degrees of holiness: an area accessible to all, an area accessible to the priests alone, and an area accessible only to the high priest. The clothing and practices of the Japanese priests are also similar to those in the Jewish temple. The Japanese have similar traditions relating to purity and impurity, mourning and religious holidays, like the Jewish customs.
The Ten Tribes in Kurdistan and the Caucasus
The Bible and Talmudic sages indicate that Jews were banished from Israel to Media, and are that included the Kurdistan Mountains, south and west of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Thanks to contact with the Talmudic and Mishnaic sages, Jewish observance was maintained by the exiles in these areas and they have a widespread oral tradition that they are descendants of the Ten Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel by the Kings of Assyria. There is also a tradition that they have been in Kurdistan since the time of Ezra the Scribe and some associate themselves with the tribe of Benjamin.
Beta Israel in Ethiopia
As noted, there are three different situations as regards the Ten Tribes. Most live as gentiles in the East, with signs of Jewishness. A relatively small number, about half a million, live completely Jewish lives in area of ancient Media (Kurdistan and the Caucasus) and throughout Central Asia.The third and smallest group, connected to the Tribe of Dan, lives in accordance with the written Torah only. According to the tradition recorded in Eldad Hadani, the Dan tribe went into voluntary exile because they did not wish to participate in the imminent civil war between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and migrated from the Land of Israel to Egypt and continued along the Nile to Ethiopia.Many sages throughout the generations confirmed this tradition, and in our times, the Gaon Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed and holy memory, ruled that “there is no doubt that these Gaonim … reached this conclusion according to reliable evidence and testimonies” and the Jews of Ethiopia began to immigrate to Israel and become Israeli citizens.