Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: The Gathering

Because of my late husband Mike’s and my DNA tests, the name clues I have found in our genealogy, and  our inherited Sephardic Jewish autoimmune disease , the perception of our  ancestral Mormon pioneers as a group of British and other Western Europeans; is now clarified, as a gathering of multicultural peoples living amongst native Western Europeans.  I believe the glue that holds together the diverse genetic background of our ancestors is Judaism.

As “strangers in a strange land”, the devout Jew, crypto, and converso were tossed to and fro on the waves of uncertainty. Never feeling secure in their host environments; knowing their fate, lives, and fortunes could change on the whim of the Christian or Muslim majority; their support system was fractured and faith wavered. The Converso/Crypto Sephardim (Mediterranean Jews), Mizrahi (Asian Jews) and Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descendants  who were disassembled by the tolerance of Protestantism, persecution, poverty, and false messiahs; had all been prepared by God, to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hardly think my Mormon pioneer ancestors are all that unique. Many of  the classic Melungeon/ Sephardic names are familiar to me. I have glanced at a few of the early families in the church and I see Sephardic Jewish given and surnames among them.

Mormon

Salt Lake Tabernacle Star of David

Because of my research, I bear a strong witness to what Joseph Fielding Smith said:

The Lord said He would scatter Israel among the Gentile nations, and by doing so he would bless the Gentile nations with the blood of Abraham. Today we are preaching the gospel in the world and we are gathering out, according to the revelations given to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and and the other prophets, the scattered sheep of the House of Israel. These scattered sheep are coming forth mixed with Gentile blood from their Gentile forefathers. Under all the circumstances it is very possible that the majority, almost without exception, of those who come into the Church in this dispensation have the blood of two or more of the tribes of Israel as well as the blood of the Gentiles. Joseph Fielding Smith Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 volumes, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-66, 3:63


The way I perceive it is, the Jews had endured centuries of persecution. Because of these adverse circumstances, many were unable to keep the Mosaic Covenant to its fullest, thus unable to fully retain their birthright. Marylee Mitchum and I theorize the Sephardic descendants of  America and Western Europe were natural converts to a restored gospel.   As convert Latter-day Saints, their birthright had been restored to them.
It is my belief that when the Lord sent His representatives, to those  living in the United States; He had already gathered many of the House of Israel on the American frontier.   At the same time, He sent Heber C. Kimball and other missionaries to Western Europe to gather His peoples; God had already reached His hand into the continents of the world and had gathered representatives of His nations, kindred, tongues and people.  God then placed His representatives  in the large Western European industrial cities, teaming with immigrants from many countries, for the missionaries to find.  This is why when missionaries were sent out,  they were first led to the Sephardic descendants, who were prepared to receive the gospel. I believe it was the crypto and converso congregations who, accepted the gospel and were baptized in mass. When I look at the various peoples our DNA represents, the Gospel has not flourished or  been allowed within the borders of their respective countries. Knowing the limits of missionary work, the early missionaries faced, our Omniscient God had already gathered up many of His peoples and placed my ancestors where they could be found and returned to the fold.
Henry Clegg Jr.
In order to further our family history work, we need to widen our horizons, and look at our ancestors with international eyes. For example, my ancestor Henry C. Clegg a shoemaker, from Preston, England, was one of the earliest converts to Mormonism in the British Isles.  As a  young boy, he stood on the banks of the River Rabble and witnessed the first baptisms in England.  Family  history tells us Henry’s father, also named Henry, was the second person baptized in the River Rabble. As an adult, Henry and older  brother Jonathan emigrated to Utah. Henry arrived in the Valley  with only his young son Israel. Henry had left his wife and baby son buried in a shallow grave  along the pioneer trail. Jonathan followed  later, coming across the plains with the ill-fated Martin Willie Handcart Companies.
Henry Clegg served as a Bishop in Heber, Utah and was  also  one of the principal builders of the Heber Tabernacle.
Heber Tabernacle

Heber Tabernacle

DSC_1378

Heber Tabernacle Sephardic Rose Symbol

One of the fascinating aspects of GGGrandpa Henry is he  made and played dulcimers. This is a clue of his true heritage.  Here is a picture of one of this dulcimers. Three of his dulcimers are located in Utah Historical museums. The dulcimer is a Middle Eastern instrument called a santor. Henry’s dulcimer is fashioned as a santor.

Henry Clegg dulcimer 1860

Henry C. Clegg Ducimer/Santor

In ancient dispensations, the revelations given by God to Moses ( Deuteronomy 30:3),  Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:3), Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 28:25), Isaiah (Isaiah 11:11-12; 43:5), Micah (Micah 2:12), and other prophets; for the scattered sheep of the House of Israel to be gathered. These scattered sheep have been/are brought out from the far corners of the earth, coming forth indeed, mixed with gentile blood from their gentile forefathers. As I look back at the history of the Jews, in the last five hundred years, it is marvelous to behold  the sons and daughters of Judah who have been preserved by the hand of God in  leading them to settle in in North and South America which has become another promised land for the gathering of the Jews and the descendants of the Jews.

But what of the faith of the ancient ones before them? What of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Are they not our fathers? Are we not the House of Israel- Dieter Uctdorf General Conference April 2008

When our prophets make statements similar to what President Uctdorf has made, do we really believe their words?   If we have educated ourselves with the history of the House of Israel, we know President Uctdorf’s statement to be a true statement. We understand how the Jews were scattered, not just in a vague sort of theoretical way, but how and why  they were scattered and now being gathered in our dispensation ( Ephesians 1:10;  1 Nephi 22:25; Doctrine and Covenants 39:11).

But what of the Sephardic peoples in our modern times? The Sephardic communities were decimated by the Holocaust, and it is ironic to note, the Ashkenazi Jews who flourished;  have overshadowed the Sephardim ( in times past, the opposite was true). Because of their diaspora status, the Sephardic communities were fractured into East and West, Turkish and Western European/American.  The Sephardim, a generation ago, were nearly extinct. Despite the closure of Sephardic synagogues, and the assimilation into Ashkenazi and Christian cultures, the Sephardim are hanging on.

In the last decade, an awakening has occurred.  God has led many of us to find our  identity as the  lost Sephardim, or in Hebrew, as Anouism. We are discovering our Crypto/Converso Sephardic Jewish heritage. Many are returning to Judaism, and some  have emigrated to Israel.  Other  Sephardic Jewish descendants, unable to leave behind Christ, have joined the Messianic movements.

For additional info see: http://www.ifmj.org/main/index.shtml   .

Jews have noticed this trend and acknowledge the Anouism in the gathering of Israel.

From Spain to Brazil to the southwestern United States, the number of Anousim coming out into the open is surging. The time has come to welcome them back home. Michael Fruend The Inquisition: Full Circle, Jerusalem Post to read article in entirety  see:   http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48891232.html


As far as our family is concerned, God has shown us our true heritage and we are also gathered by the truth and knowledge. We have been blessed by the knowledge as we discovered we have  Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) and are now receiving treatment. I believe (just like Joseph Fielding Smith), most, if not all, LDS people are a mix of Hebrew and Gentile. LDS people have also been gathered, but may be ignorant of  true ancestry. It is imperative we come to a realization of who we really are. Our knowledge is part of the gathering of peoples.   I am confident future family historians, filled with the Spirit of Elijah, will use DNA as a tool to find  previously lost generations of ancestors.  They will not assume an ancestral line found in a particular place and time; has always resided in that particular place.  Future family historians will understand the broad view of historical migrations and events which include their ancestors.

In my oldest son Tex’s patriarchal blessing, it is prophesied he will do the work for hundreds of his kindred dead, who anxiously await their temple work to be done. At the time of his blessing, seven years ago, I wondered how this seemly impossible task would be accomplished; now we know. The  work is never done;  the field is white and ready to harvest for us all.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

13 thoughts on “Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: The Gathering

  1. Geoff, How nice of you to say that.

    If anyone out there is in need of a research project, I may be able to help with a project idea. What I have introduced is the Readers Digest Condensed Version on the subject.

  2. Joanna, I am sad to see this is the final post in the series, and I would definitely buy the book.

    This series has been an eye-opener for me in more ways than one. It also sent me down completely new paths in my family history search.

    Last night I just happened to see the first broadcast in a series called “The Generations Project” on BYUTV. This first episode called “Lumina” reminded me of your series of posts. Their website byub.org/generationsproject and byutv.org shows the episode is being rebroadcast on the 9th at 1pm, the 10th at 11am, and the 11th at 12pm and 6pm.

    Joanna, thank you for sharing your research, your insights, and your experiences.

  3. Munchas Gracias Joana !
    Todo esto no es ainda ke el empesijo solo. Estamos seguros ke esta es una inisiativa ke se dezvelopara muncho mas rapidamente de lo ke pensavamos i puede ser ke sera imitada por otros grupos mas, kon interesos espesiales en uno o otro de los aspektos de la kultura djudeo espanyola. Segun la dicha en inglez, “El sielo es el limito” i no ay duda ke en los anyos vinientes podremos ver dezvelopamientos muy pozitivos en este kampo.

  4. To read the rest of the series:

    Our pioneer names and DNA. THe rest of the posts explain how this happened
    part 1- http://www.millennialstar.org/rising-out-of-obscurity-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection/

    What happened in Spain
    part 2- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-ii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-a-history-of-the-sephardim-in-spain/

    Some went to Turkey
    part 3- http://www.millennialstar.org/ew/

    Some went to Western Europe
    part 4- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-iv-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-western-europe/

    Sephardic Influences
    part 5- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-v-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-seeding-the-protestant-reformation/

    England and Spain were at war. The Western Europe Converso and Crypto Jews fled even farther west in fear of Spain
    part 6- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-vi-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-braving-the-new-world-the-lost-colony-of-roanoke/
    part 7- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-vii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-the-first-thanksgiving-or-sukkoth-in-america/

    Some Sephardic Jews were part of the tri-isolate communities in America
    part 8- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-viii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-what-the-heck-is-a-melungeon/

    Sephardic descendants preferred to be out on the wilderness
    part 9- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-ix-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-the-great-melungeon-migration/

    Sephardim altered or adapted their surnames, but often kept a few Sephardic given names
    part 10- http://www.millennialstar.org/part-x-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-sephardic-names-and-what-to-look-for/

    Sephardic Jews had unique illnesses:
    http://www.millennialstar.org/family-history-can-save-your-life/

    Evidence of Orson Hyde’s Jewish ancestry using the Hirschman model
    http://www.millennialstar.org/sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-utah-history-encyclopedia-is-wrong-joseph-smith-was-right-orson-hyde-is-of-jewish-ancestry/

    We are all gathered
    http://www.millennialstar.org/sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-the-gathering/

  5. JA Benson, I am interested in the photo of Henry Clegg that is included in this blog post. I, too, am a descendant and we thought we had seen all the known photos of him. Do you know when and where that photo was taken? Would appreciate knowing more of his history.
    Rgds
    clegghistory.org

  6. Hello Cousin Cleggsan,
    I lifted this photo of Grandpa Henry off the ancestry.com website. I have another one also lifted off of the ancestry.com website. If you would like for me to email you a copy of both I can, just email me at JoannaBenson at comcast dot net (no spaces). I would be interested to connect with another Clegg descendant.

  7. “One of the fascinating aspects of GGGrandpa Henry is he made and played dulcimers. This is a clue of his true heritage. Here is a picture of one of this dulcimers. Three of his dulcimers are located in Utah Historical museums. The dulcimer is a Middle Eastern instrument called a santor. Henry’s dulcimer is fashioned as a santor.”

    I’m sorry, but this connection is far-fetched. Hammered dulcimers were very widespread in Europe, having little to do with Conversos. It is almost like saying that Arabs who use violins are descendants of Viennese.

  8. Hello again Allen,

    I hope we are not up all night ;)

    These are pictures of western style dulcimer:

    http://www.clivequinn.com/dulcimers.htm

    Here is the Turkish style santur:

    http://atlas.musigi-dunya.az/en/santur.html

    If the santur was widespread in Europe, it was because of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, moved populations west, and the middle eastern peoples brought their customs with them.

    While we are on the subject; the beloved Scottish bagpipe; it originated in Egypt.

    MY point is, humankind has not existed in autonomous communities. We are all a mix of many ethnicities. Take a look at my DNA and my ancestral surnames. Not any matches there, huh.
    See:http://www.millennialstar.org/rising-out-of-obscurity-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection/

    We inherited this disease from the names on the above link.
    Our Sephardic Jewish Disease: http://www.millennialstar.org/family-history-can-save-your-life/

  9. “These are pictures of western style dulcimer:

    http://www.clivequinn.com/dulcimers.htm

    Here is the Turkish style santur:

    http://atlas.musigi-dunya.az/en/santur.html

    If the santur was widespread in Europe, it was because of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, moved populations west, and the middle eastern peoples brought their customs with them.”

    Hammered dulcimers were far more common in Europe, England and America than Appalachian dulcimers. The appearance of hammered dulcimers in Europe predates any supposed mass migrations from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (which lasted until 1918 or so). http://books.google.com/books?id=02rFSecPhEsC&pg=PA447&lpg=PA447&dq=hammered+dulcimer+first+appeared+in+europe&source=bl&ots=Uk6XRGZiQP&sig=OpaQKUoE-wvbDERmQACyDOsFXWE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=A3IWUOyoF8ShrAH9l4GoDw&ved=0CFcQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=by%20the%2012th%20century%2C%20dulcimers&f=false

    “While we are on the subject; the beloved Scottish bagpipe; it originated in Egypt.”

    Or Kurdistan, or India, etc. If someone plays a bagpipe, does that make them a descendant of Egyptians?

  10. “Hammered dulcimers were far more common in Europe, England and America than Appalachian dulcimers. The appearance of hammered dulcimers in Europe predates any supposed mass migrations from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (which lasted until 1918 or so).”

    Yes, but it was the gypsies and other people from the Middle East who brought them to Europe. Still it was a folk instrument played mainly by those who were from elsewhere outside of Western Europe. Collapse of the Ottoman Empire lasted from the late 1600-early 1900′s.

    “Or Kurdistan, or India, etc. If someone plays a bagpipe, does that make them a descendant of Egyptians?”

    It could, if their DNA says they are Egyptian.

    I have no English DNA, but plenty of DNA from Persia and peoples within the Ottoman Empire.

  11. “Yes, but it was the gypsies and other people from the Middle East who brought them to Europe. Still it was a folk instrument played mainly by those who were from elsewhere outside of Western Europe.”

    Yet, dulcimers were used in Europe before the Roma appeared. Music and musical instruments were just as likely to spread through means such as trade. They are hardly any use in establishing someone’s ethnic background, especially centuries removed from their introduction. Hammered dulcimers were a very common folk instrument IN Europe.

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