THE ORIGIN OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS
The origin of the people today known as Jews is a subject that only a few historians have been brave enough to discuss. Because this is a subject that has been left untouched, the average person has assumed that the Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jews, as they are currently known, are the descendants of the Biblical Hebrews. The Ashkenazi are not the people of the Bible but are the descendants of Khazars, caucasians who converted to Judaism in the 8th century A.D.
The Land of the Khazars extended between the Caspian and the Black Sea. Its inhabitants were pagan steppe tribes’ men of Turkish stock.
The Kharzars, because they were strategically located in the middle of Muslim and Christian empires were instrumental in protecting the Byzantine empire from the Muslim onslaught that threatened to sweep across parts of Europe during the Dark Ages. For this reason both the Byzantine emperors and the Baghdad caliphs were interested in cultivating the Khazars and bringing them under their influence, by winning them over to their religion.
In the year 965 the Khazars were defeated for the first time in 500 years by Prince Sviatoslav of Kiev. King Bulan of Khozaria concluded that Prince Sviatoslav emerged victorious from the war because his troops and mercenaries were Christians, while his nomads were pagan worshippers. Paganism was on its last legs. Kagan Bulan of the Khazars, over who reigned over his people in the middle of the eighth century, decided to abandon his pagan faith, but could not make up his mind what new faith to adopt. There are stories of the efforts of the Muslim caliph and the Christian emperor of the Byzantium to win over the Kagan to their belief. They sent delegations to him with letters and expensive gifts, accompanied by men learned in their religion, to influence Bulan. The confused Kagan ordered a Christian and a Muslim to conduct a debate to establish whose faith was better. The debates lasted for a long time without concrete results. The Kagan noticed that both the Christian and the Moslem debaters referred to the Jewish Torah to support their arguments. The Christian priest admitted that the Jewish religion was superior to that of Mohammed, and the Moslem imam asserted that Judaism was better than Christianity. This being the case, the Kagan decided to adopt the faith of the Jews. The king and his nobles embraced Judaism in 965, and in 966 a royal edict was passed enforcing Judaisnm as the only legal religion in the Khozar Kingdom. Tribesmen had to undergo circumcision, learn Hebrew prayers, and recognize Jewish rabbis as their spiritual leaders – on pain of death. ref: http://www.freewebs.com/realisraelites/europeanjews.htm