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This is a sampling of numerous contemporary references to the practice of rabbinical Judaism among the Khazars.
Christian of Stavelot, in Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam (864):
"At the present time we know of no nation under the heavens where Christians do not live. For [Christians are even found] in the lands of Gog and Magog -- who are a Hunnic race and are called Gazari (Khazars)... circumcized and observing all [the laws of] Judaism. The Bulgars, however, who are of the same seven tribes [as the Khazars], are now becoming baptized [into Christianity]."

Ahmad ibn Fadlan, in his travellogue (c. 922):

"The Khazars and their king are all Jews."

Ibn al-Faqih (c. 930):

"All of the Khazars are Jews. But they have been Judaized recently."

Khazar King Joseph, in his Reply to Hasdai ibn-Shaprut (c. 955):

"After those days there arose from the sons of Bulan's sons a king, Obadiah by name. He was an upright and just man. He reorganized the kingdom and established the Jewish religion properly and correctly. He built synagogues and schools, brought in many Israelite sages, honored them with silver and gold, and they explained to him the 24 Books of the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, and the order of prayers established by the Khazzans. He was a man who feared God and loved the law and the commandments."

Abd al-Jabbar ibn Muhammad al-Hamdani, in The Establishment of Proofs for the Prophethood of Our Master Muhammad (c. 1009-1010):

"One of the Jews undertook the conversion of the Khazars, who are composed of many peoples, and they were converted by him and joined his religion. This happened recently in the days of the Abbasids.... For this was a man who came single-handedly to a king of great rank and to a very spirited people, and they were converted by him without any recourse to violence and the sword. And they took upon themselves the difficult obligations enjoined by the law of the Torah, such as circumcision, the ritual ablutions, washing after a discharge of the semen, the prohibition of work on the Sabbath and during the feasts, the prohibition of eating the flesh of forbidden animals according to this religion, and so on."

Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo, Spain, in The Book of Tradition (1161):

"You will find the communities of Israel spread abroad... as far as Dailam and the river Itil where live Khazar peoples who became proselytes. The Khazar king Joseph sent a letter to Hasdai ibn-Shaprut and informed him that he and all his people followed the rabbinical faith. We have seen descendants of the Khazars in Toledo, students of the wise, and they have told us that the remnant of them is of the rabbinical belief."

Dimashqi (1327):

"Ibn-al-Athir tells how in the days of Harun, the emperor of Byzantium forced the Jews to emigrate. They came to the Khazar country, where they found an intelligent but untutored race and offered them their religion. The inhabitants found it better than their own and accepted it."

Here is a list of Jewish sources that preserve knowledge of the Khazars' conversion to Judaism:

  • Elchanan the Merchant a.k.a. Eldad the Danite - 9th century
  • Anonymous author of the Schechter Letter - 10th century
  • Hasdai ibn Shaprut - 10th century
  • King Joseph of the Khazars - 10th century
  • Yehuda HaLevi - 12th century
  • Rabbi Yehuda al-Barseloni - 12th century
  • Rabbi Abraham ibn Daud - 12th century
  • Rabbi Moses ben Nahman a.k.a. Nahmanides - 13th century
  • Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov - 15th century
  • Rabbi Gedaliah - 16th century
  • Yitzhak Aqrish - 16th century
  • Rabbi Yehuda Moscato - 16th century

    Here is an excerpt from Rabbi Moscato's book Kol Yehuda:
         "Should it not be believed that the great and awe-inspiring story which is the basis and essence of this book [The Kuzari by Yehuda HaLevi] is true and really happened? If that were not so, why would the author of the book lie? For he wrote in the beginning of his book: 'As it has been recorded and known from historical works.' He repeated that in the introduction to the second part of his book: 'This is what happened afterwards with regard to the Kuzari, as it is known in the books of Khazaria...'" (translation by Rabbi Gershom Barnard)

    Here is an excerpt from Hasdai ibn Shaprut's letter to King Joseph:
         "We live in the Diaspora and there is no power in our hands. They say to us everyday, 'Every nation has a kingdom, but you have no memory of such in all the land.' But when we heard about my master the [Khazar] King, the might of his monarchy, and his mighty army, we were amazed. We lifted our heads, our spirits returned, our hands were strengthened, and my master's kingdom was our response in defense. Were it that this news would gain added strength, for through it we will be elevated further." (translation by Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin)

    For more information about the above sources, plus citations and quotes from other kinds of sources for the Khazar conversion (by Karaite, Zoroastrian, and Byzantine writers), plus the two known examples of archaeological evidence, read The Jews of Khazaria, Third Edition (2018), particularly chapter 6 but also chapter 4 on pages 65-66 and chapter 9 on page 159.
    Judaism has always welcomed converts like the Khazars into the Jewish fold as equals:

    "And when a stranger sojourns with you and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males become circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is a native of the land; for no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be to him that is homeborn and to the stranger that sojourns among you." (Exodus 12:48)

    "The Jews were dispersed among the nations so as to make converts." (Pesakhim 87b)

    "Converts are beloved; in every way God considers them as part of Israel." (Mekhilta Nezikim Mishpatim 18)

    "The convert is to be exalted above the Children of Israel, since the latter would never have heard the Word of the Law at Sinai were it not for the signs and wonders and the terrible rumblings of the mountain, but the convert came of his own free will to accept the Torah, and of all those gathered at Sinai, he is the most beloved." (Mekhilta, Mishpatin, 18)

    "Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)

    "You shall love the convert, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Devarim 10:19)

    "Do not hurt the feelings of a convert or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Shemos [Exodus] 22:20)

    "The convert should be to you exactly like a born Jew and you shall love him like yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt - I am HaShem, your God." (VaYikra [Leviticus] 19:33-34)

    Nevertheless, there are many who distort history to attempt to deny the Jewishness of the Khazars.

  • Famous Converts to Judaism, by Lawrence Joffe
  • 18 Amazing Converts to Judaism You Should Know, by Menachem Posner

  • An Introduction to the History of Khazaria
  • Khazaria Image Gallery
  • Bibliography of Khazar Studies 1901-Present
  • The Kuzari's References to the Khazar Conversion to Judaism
  • An Exploration of Khazarian Shamanism
  • Some Khazars Professed Christianity
  • Current Issues in Khazar Studies
  • Are Russian Jews Descended from the Khazars?
  • The Genetics of the Medieval Khazars

  • Khazaria.com Homepage