Are Ashkenazis really Semites?
Are Ashkenazi Jews descendants of Khazars? Was there a mass conversion of Khazars to Judaism?
I cannot comment on the genetic ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews, although I will try to explain their ethnicity from a historical point of view.
Ashkenazi Jews currently make up the majority of the world's Jewish population (approximately 80% worldwide). This particular Jewish community has its geographical origin in the European continent, although its anthropological origin has a mixed ethnic heritage.
In the Middle Ages, Ashkenazi Jewish communities lived in northern Italy, northern France, England and in the Germanic Rhineland / western Germany. Yiddish, the central language of the Ashkenazi Jews, was essentially born in the Germanic lands in the Middle Ages and was (and is) a combination of German and Hebrew or Germanic and Semitic languages related to Hebrew (which was also possible) including Aramaic).
After the Black Death in the 13th century AD, many Jewish communities in Northern Europe were expelled and then relocated to Poland at the invitation of a Polish king (I don't remember his name). For much of modern times, a sizable percentage of Ashkenazi Jews lived throughout Poland. However, during the reign of Catherine the Great (if I remember correctly) many Polish Jews were uprooted and relocated to other parts of the Russian Empire, including Russia proper, as well as neighboring areas in western and southern Russia.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Ashkenazi Jewish communities lived mainly in Eastern Europe (with a sizable percentage in Russia and Poland), although other Ashkenazi Jewish communities lived in Austria, Germany and France and emigrated to the United States, Canada, England and Argentina in the early 20th century.
This is the common and widely accepted story of Ashkenazi Jewish migration over the centuries. The so-called Khazar theory or thesis was and is rooted in conjecture and controversy for many reasons.
First, the Khazars were Mongolian Turks from Central Asia who traveled the Silk Road en route to what is now Ukraine and parts of Georgia around AD 800. They founded an empire that served as a kind of regional partner for the rule of the neighboring Byzantine Empire around the Black Sea region for about 300 years. There were some Khazars (mainly the nobility) who converted to Judaism during this period, although their number was relatively small compared to the majority of the Khazar civilian population. What exactly happened after the fall of the Khazarian Empire is historically somewhat mysterious. Most likely, the Khazars probably married native Slavic women who live in Ukraine or the Russian Black Sea region. Perhaps there were interfaith marriages between converted Khazrian Jews and Slavic (mostly Eastern Rite) Christians. Again, there is little historical evidence to confirm this and is typically subject to guesswork and hypotheses. Even if all or the majority of the Khazar theory were historically true, historically it is still in brackets, probably due to centuries of intermarriage, when compared to the more general historical explanations describing the mixed European and Semitic ethnic origins of the majority of Ashkenazi Jews between European Jewish men and European Christian women.
There is a likely correlation between the ethnic and genetic origins of Ashkenazi Jews, largely rooted in the 1,800-year history of the European Jewish diaspora. In other words, Ashkenazi Jews (from a genealogical ethnic point of view) strongly reflect the European population, among whom they lived for several centuries, while maintaining their original Semitic origins in the Middle East. I would say that most Ashkezazi Jews are genealogically ethnically neither completely Semitic nor completely European, but rather a mixture of both groups. The Khazar theory, if applicable, would likely have a bracket or little significance compared to the historically and chronologically documented evidence of the 1,800-year-old Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora in Europe.
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