A Reunion of Biblical Proportions

By Mordechai Shinefield

Published August 19, 2005, issue of August 19, 2005.
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Think you are a direct descendant of King David? Then make sure you have an invitation to his family reunion.

The Eshet Chayil Foundation is planning the first Eternal House of David Family Reunion, to be held in 2007. It’s a three-day event in Jerusalem for people who believe they are descendants of King David.

Davidic Dynasty — a project of the Eshet Chayil Foundation, a fund to support communal events in Israel and the United States — has reserved Jerusalem’s International Convention Center (Binyanei HaOoma) for the festivities. In addition to the reunion, they plan an “Everything David” merchandise fair, which will be open to the general public.

The timing of the event coincides with the 40-year anniversary of Israel’s capturing of East Jerusalem and corresponds to the 40-year reign of King David. Davidic Dynasty is currently researching families throughout the world that are descendants and informing them of the reunion.

The idea for the reunion was inspired by the co-chairman and founder of the foundation, Susan Roth, who said that when she started to look into her own ancestry, she found she could trace it back to King David.

In addition, some sources assert that recent advances in genetic testing can identify descendants of the Cohanim, or priestly class, who were from the House of David. Joseph Meyersdorf, the project coordinator, teamed up with Family Tree DNA’s founder, Bennett Greenspan. Their mission is to find a common DNA signature among those who claim to have an oral tradition linking them to King David.

Still, Meyersdorf added, those not blessed with the genetic marker will not be turned away — because biology is not the only determination of David-ism.

“Since we are talking so many years ago, we are looking for people who have the historical data to back them up,” he said. “Like many other things in Judaism, it is family tradition. We are going to be looking into verifying further.”

One group that is not invited, despite tradition or even genetic lineage, is the gentiles. “Throughout the generations there has been intermarriage, but this is a Jewish event,” Meyersdorf explained. “This is for the Jewish descendants of King David. This is to promote Jewish unity and Jewish continuity.

Though one wonders how the group accounts for the fact that David’s first ancestor, Solomon, allegedly had 700 wives and 300 concubines — many of whom decidedly were not Jewish — Meyersdorf’s position is firm.

“I’m not saying that Queen Elizabeth is not a descendant, which she claims to be,” he said, “but it is not what we are about.”






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