It is our nature to question and seek information concerning our ancestral past. If you subscribe to the theory, as an increasing number of proponents do, that there are many people who are descendants of the ancient scattered ten tribes of Israelites, then the questioning and seeking for answers becomes compelling.
Armed with limited information, my husband Ralph and I traveled to Wales, the land of my maternal forefathers and England, my paternal forefathers in September 1996 to trace my genealogy. We knew the name of the city in Wales which was the birthplace of my great grandfather and great grandmother, but little else.
Our arrival in Llandudno, Conwy, North Wales was on Friday, September 13th where we attended the Llandudno Hebrew Congregation Synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat services. This is the oldest Orthodox Synagogue in Wales, dating to the 16th century. We were greeted with surprise and curiosity by the congregants. They certainly seemed unaccustomed to visitors, particularly those from “across the pond.”
One of the nights spent in Wales was at a resort high in the mountains with a beautiful view of the Irish Sea. The bucolic setting was breathtaking.
Equipped with maps and the meager information we brought with us, we located the township of Corris, Wales and began exploring the valley of so many of my ancestors. The old cemetery was situated on the grounds of the Carmell Corris, Talyllin, Wesleyan Methodist church erected in 1810. The Welch inscriptions on the gravestones appeared startlingly close to Hebrew script bringing to mind what United Israel President David Horowitz had told us so often, that the Welch and Hebrew languages are strikingly similar.
Irish legends are compatible with an original tradition of Israelite origins. In the eighteenth century, the Reverend Eliezer Williams wrote several works on the Celts. Williams contended that the roots of most of the ancient British, or real Welsh, words may be regularly traced in the Hebrew language.
Karel Jongeling’s “Comparing Welsh and Hebrew,” (2000, The Netherlands) quoted from hundreds of examples in which the grammatical structure and characteristics of Welsh parallel those of the Hebrew.
The process of researching information that we had acquired during the trip has revealed astonishing points of history for me. Seventh Day Adventist Leslie Hardinge’s wonderful book “The Celtic Church in Britain, “ (Teach Services, Inc., Brushton, NY, 1973), provided insightful historical background.
In her book, Hardinge states: “Before the coming of Augustine to England in A. D. 597, the Christian church in the British Isles was profoundly Celtic, rather than Roman. The beliefs and practices of the Celtic Christian Church were much closer to the first century church than the Church of Rome. Foremost in the Celtic belief was an insistence on a literal interpretation of the Bible, with the tendency to reject the writings of the Church Fathers, and a disdain for the authority of Church Councils (Counsel of Elders). The Celtic theologian was keenly interested in the whole of the Scriptures, but his preoccupation with the Ten Commandments was even deeper. Many Celtic believers were Arians (anti-trinitarian). They kept the Sabbath, believing that the day begins at sundown. They were known to be Quartodecimans, observers of the Christian Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month in spring. They also eschewed unclean meats.”
The legendary Saint Patrick (AD 387-463) was born in Britain and evangelized Ireland. He was said to have founded over 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 converts, earning him the title of patron saint of Ireland. Christianity however, existed in Ireland long before his time.
Wherever Patrick went and established a church, he left an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses), along with the books of the Gospel. The Liber begins with the Decalogue and continues with selections from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, totaling 35 in all.
It is most significant that the Liber should commence with the Decalogue, which certainly points to the interest of the Celtic Christian in keeping the Ten Commandments. The section also includes prohibitions against the forming of idols of silver or gold, and directions for making an altar of earth without steps, underlining the early stress in the Celtic Church of “altars of stone.”
While Saint Patrick is revered as a Roman Catholic Saint, his writings appear to place him squarely in the Sabbath-keeping Messianic tradition.
Hardinge also indicated that the Celtic British Isles had a long history of Sabbath-keeping. Professor James C. Moffat, D.D. in his 1882 book “The Church in Scotland,” also stated “It seems to have been customary in Celtic Churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labor.” They obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week.
A surprising conclusion has much relevance for us today. To its detriment, the Celtic Church was not united. Each group seemed to have been dependent upon the founder and its’ tribe, but independent of all others. No church leader among the Celts was held to be the spokesman of all. There was little unity of purpose thus they were unable to present a unified front and were absorbed into Roman Christianity piece by piece, finally disappearing.
Assimilating this information both intellectually and emotionally has given me much to consider. My personal search and spiritual journey continues but with a renewed sense of pride in my Welch-Celtic-Hebrew influenced heritage.
Article written by United Israel World Union Secretary Rebecca Buntyn