| ||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (May 2008)|
Tudor Parfitt is a Welsh  historian, writer, traveller, broadcaster and adventurer. He is Emeritus Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he was the founding director of the Centre for Jewish Studies, He is now Research Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and President Navon Professor of Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies at the Florida International University (FIU). His younger brother was the educationalist Robin Parfitt.
In 1963 Parfitt spent a year with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Jerusalem where he worked with handicapped people, some of whom had survived the Nazi concentration camps. Upon his return to Britain, he studied Hebrew and Arabic at the University of Oxford. In 1968 he was awarded the Goodenday Fellowship at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He completed a D.Phil at Oxford with David Patterson and Albert Hourani on the history of the Jews in Palestine and their relations with their Muslim neighbours, which was subsequently expanded and published by the Royal Historical Society.
In 1972 he was appointed lecturer in Hebrew language, literature and history at the University of Toronto. In 1974 he was appointed Parkes Fellow at the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/nonJewish Relations in the University of Southampton and shortly afterwards took up the lectureship in Modern Hebrew at SOAS. His first body of work interrogated received wisdom about the nature of the revival of Hebrew. His main academic interests have been: the Sephardi/Mizrahi communities of the Muslim world, Jewish-Muslim relations, Hebrew and Hebrew Literature, Judaising Movements, Jewish genetic identity and the discourses surrounding it, attitudes towards Jews and Zionism in South Asia and Jews in Asia and Africa. He pioneered the now burgeoning study of black and other marginal Jewish groups throughout the world as well as the study of Jews and genetic discourses.
In 1984 at the time of the great Ethiopian famine he was sent to the Sudan by the Minority Rights Group to write a report on the Ethiopian Jews who were allegedly being poisoned in the refugee camps along the border with Ethiopia. His visit coincided with the Israeli operation to rescue the Jewish community and he wrote a book on the topic, Operation Moses, which described the appalling suffering experienced by the community en route for Israel. He was subsequently a founder member of SOSTEJE (Society for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry) and served as vice-president for many years. Throughout the 1980s he undertook covert lecture tours to Jewish Refusenik groups in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. In 1985 he spent several months visiting the various Jewish communities of Asia - including Thailand, Singapore and Japan where he interested the Emperor's brother, Prince Mikasa, in the Jewish communities of the East.
He has written on the Bene Israel community of India and initiated genetic research into their origins  which for the first time gave some substantive evidence that they were of Jewish origin. He has collaborated on a number of papers concerning the genetic history of Jewish and other communities throughout the world which have cast often surprising light on different aspects of history. In 1987 he was asked by the Jewish community of Singapore to write an official history of the island's Jews. The same year he visited Syria to write about the situation of its Jewish community for the Minority Rights Group and was arrested by the Syrian secret police, the Mukhabarat, in the process. This and other adventures figured in his first travel book: The Thirteenth Gate. 
In the early 1990s he conducted fieldwork in the Yemen researching its ancient Jewish community and wrote a book on the subject entitled The Road to Redemption in which he argued that a significant factor in the exodus of the Yemenite Jews was the rapidly changing economy of the Indian Ocean. He also researched and presented a BBC documentary called 'The Last Exile' on this subject. He has been a frequent contributor to television and radio programmes on Jewish, Israeli and Middle East topics. In 1999 a section of CBS 'Sixty Minutes' was devoted to his research and a number of documentaries throughout the world have been devoted to his work. He wrote on the Jews of Morocco and organised a number of international conferences on Muslim-Jewish relations bringing together Jewish, Israeli and Muslim scholars which were held in London, Morocco and Egypt. In 2002 he published his Lost Tribes of Israel: the History of a Myth, whose central thesis was that the creation of Israelite and Jewish identities throughout the world from the Americas to Papua New Guinea was an innate feature of colonial discourse. At a public lecture at Harvard in 2011 he modified this original perspective and suggested that the creation of such identities was also the result of what he called racialised religious manifestations growing out of nineteenth century racial theory. In 2012 Parfitt joined the Board of Advisors of the International Museum for Family History.
 Tracing the origins of the Lemba and the Lemba ngoma
His interest in 'exotic' and marginal Jewish groups throughout the world led him in the 1990s to take an interest in the Judaizing Lemba tribe of southern Africa. A six month journey throughout Africa tracing the origins of the tribe  brought him to international attention (and earned him the sobriquet the British Indiana Jones). Later he decided to test Lemba claims of Jewish origin by analyzing their DNA. In recognition of this work he was made corresponding fellow of the Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer.
One of the treasured traditions of the Lemba concerns a drum, or "ngoma", which they believe they brought from the Middle East centuries ago. The ngoma had a great deal in common with the Biblical Ark of the Covenant as Parfitt noted in his second travel book - Journey to the Vanished City which was awarded the Wingate Prize. Parfitt has observed that Rabbinic sources maintain that there were in fact two Arks of the Covenant - one the ceremonial Ark, covered with gold, which was eventually placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, the other the Ark of War, which according to the Biblical account had been carved from wood by Moses and which was a relatively simple affair. Parfitt proposed that the Ark of War may have been taken across the Jordan and citing Islamic sources proposed that it had then moved south, in the possession of Arab tribes, until it reached Yemen, where certain families claimed to have kept it in their possession. The Lemba claim to have brought their ark/ngoma from Arabia at some point in the past.
Parfitt suggests that the ngoma was a lineal descendant of the Biblical Ark. Genetic research into the Lemba people shows that some Lemba males and particularly males of the priestly Buba clan who had custody of the ngoma have on the Y chromosome a haplotype - the Cohen Modal haplotype - which is characteristic of Jewish priests known in Hebrew as Cohanim. The remote ancestor of the Cohanim of today and the Buba men was the same individual and as an article in Nature ((1998)  of which Parfitt was a co-author shows lived about 3000 years ago.
Parfitt believes that the Ark may have been replaced on numerous occasions, when it wore out. He alleges that the final incarnation of the ark/ngoma came to Africa with its priestly guardians and was discovered by Parfitt in 2007. This ngoma was shown by radio carbon dating conducted at Oxford University to hail back to around 1350 AD - perhaps the oldest wooden objects ever discovered in sub-Saharan Africa. According to Lemba oral traditions the original ark/ngoma which they brought from the Middle East was destroyed by fire many hundreds of years ago and was replaced. In March 2008 he published The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2,500 Year Old Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark , documenting his findings and presented documentary films aired on Channel Four and the History Channel. The BBC reported that the discovery of the ngoma "instilled pride among many of the Lemba". In 2010 Parfitt was invited to address a symposium in Harare on the subject which was attended by the Zimbabwe cabinet including the vice-president John Nkomo. This was followed by a major exhibition at the Harare Museum of Human Science. The authentic ngoma was briefly on display but was soon replaced by a replica. There have been rumours that the original has been removed from the museum. In 2010 Parfitt was appointed honorary president of the International Society for the Study of African Jewry. In 2011 he gave the Huggins Lectures at the Du Bois Institute at Harvard University on the evolution of Black Jewish groups in Africa and the Americas. In 2012 he joined the Advisory Board of the International Museum for Family History.
- Parfitt, T.(2013) Black Jews in Africa and the Americas, New York: Harvard University Press
- Parfitt, T. and E. Bruder (2012) African Zion: Studies in Black Judaism.Cambridge: Scholars Publishing.
- Parfitt, T. (2008) The Lost Ark of the Covenant London/New York: Harper Collins.
- Parfitt, T. and Egorova, Y. (2005) Genetics, Mass Media, and Identity: A Case Study of the Genetic Research on the Lemba and Bene Israel London: Routledge.
- Parfitt, T and Trevisan-Semi, E., (2005) The Jews of Ethiopia: the birth of an élite. London: Routledge.
- Parfitt T. (2004) The Lost Tribes of Israel: the History of a Myth. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
- Parfitt, T. and Egorova, Y., (2003) Jews, Muslims and mass media : mediating the other. London: Routledge Curzon.
- Parfitt, T. and Trevisan Semi, E. (2002) 'Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism. London: Routledge Curzon.
- Parfitt, T. (2000) Israel and Ishmael: Studies in Muslim-Jewish Relations. London: Curzon.
- Parfitt, T. and Trevisan-Semi, E., (1999) The Beta Israel in Ethiopia and Israel: Studies on the Ethiopian Jews. London: Curzon.
- Parfitt, T. (1996) The Road to Redemption: The Jews of the Yemen 1900-1950. Brill's Series in Jewish Studies vol. XVII. Leiden: Brill.
- Parfitt, T. and Abramson G., (1995) Jewish education and learning: published in honour of Dr. David Patterson on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Chur, Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers.
- Parfitt, T.,Kaplan, S. and Trevisan-Semi, E., (1995) Between Africa and Zion : proceedings of the First International Congress of the Society for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute.
- Parfitt, T. and Trevisan-Semi, E., eds. (1993) L'altro Visto Dall'altro. Letteratura Araba ed Ebraica a Confronto. Milan: Cortina Libreria.
- Parfitt, T. (1992) Journey to the Vanished City: the Search for a Lost Tribe of Israel. New York: Random House.
- Parfitt, T. (1988) The Jews of Arab Countries and Iran, Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Parfitt, T. (1987) The Jews of Africa and Asia, London, Minority Rights Group,
- Parfitt, T. (1987) The thirteenth gate : travels among the Lost Tribes of Israel. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
- Parfitt, T. (1987) The Jews in Palestine, 1800-1882. Royal Historical Society studies in history (52). Woodbridge: Published for the Royal Historical Society by Boydell.
- Parfitt, T. (1985) Operation Moses: the untold story of the secret exodus of the Falasha Jews from Ethiopia. London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
- Parfitt, T. and Abramson, G., (1985) The Great transition : the recovery of the lost centers of modern Hebrew literature. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld.
- Parfitt, T. and Kessler D. (1985) The Falashas: the Jews of Ethiopia. London: Minority Rights Group.
- Parfitt, T. and Abramson G. (1983) Great tranquillity: questions and answers [Translation from the Hebrew of Yehuda Amichai's Shalvah gedolah]. New York: Harper & Row.
- Parfitt, T. (2008) 'Quest for the Lost Ark. Director Martin Kemp. Channel Four/ History Channel
- Parfitt, T. (1999) 'To the Ends of the Earth: Search for the Sons of Abraham. Director Chris Hale. Channel Four / NOVA
- Parfitt, T. (1993) 'The Longest Exile. Producer Julian Hale.' BBC
- Parfitt, T. (1992) 'King Solomon’s Tribe. Producer Julian Hale.' BBC
- Parfitt, T. (1988) 'The Twice Promised Land. Three part documentary to mark the 40th anniversary of the State of Israel. Producer Steve Sackur.' BBC
- see Parfitt, T. and E. Bruder (2012) African Zion: Studies in Black Judaism.Cambridge: Scholars Publishing.
- Mora Dickson, Israeli Interlude, Dennis Dobson Ltd.; Illustrated edition (1966)
- Parfitt , T. (1972) 'The Use of Hebrew in Palestine 1800–1822.' Journal of Semitic Studies, 17 (2). pp. 237–252.
- Professor Tudor Parfitt : SOAS
- Parfitt, T. (1987) The Thirteenth Gate: Travels among the Lost Tribes of Israel. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
- "Geneticist helps Mumbai Jews reinforce sense of identity". The Times Of India. 2002-11-26.
- Parfitt, Tudor (2003) Place, Priestly Status and Purity: The Impact of Genetic Research on an Indian Jewish Community. Developing World Bioethics, 3 (2). pp. 178–185.
- e.g. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v466/n7303/abs/nature09103.html
- Parfitt, T. (1987) The Thirteenth Gate: travels among the Lost Tribes of Israel. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Parfitt, Tudor (1987) The Jews of African and Asia, Minority Rights Group, London.
- http://sveri gesradio.se/diverse/appdata/isidor/files/3052/7926.mp3
- Parfitt, Tudor, ed. (2000) Israel and Ishmael: Studies in Muslim-Jewish Relations. London: Curzon.
- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/parfitt.html Nova Program on Tudor Parfitt's Remarkable Journey
- Parfitt, Tudor and Egorova, Y. (2005) Genetics, Mass Media, and Identity: A Case Study of the Genetic Research on the Lemba and Bene Israel. London: Routledge.
- Van Biema, David (2008-02-21). "A Lead on the Ark of the Covenant". Time.
- 'Origins of Old Testament priests.' Nature, 394 (6689). pp. 138–140)
- Thomas MG, Parfitt T, Weiss DA et al. (February 2000). "Y Chromosomes Traveling South: The Cohen Modal Haplotype and the Origins of the Lemba—the "Black Jews of Southern Africa"". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 66 (2): 674–86. doi:10.1086/302749. PMC 1288118. PMID 10677325.
- "Lost Jewish tribe 'found in Zimbabwe'". BBC News. 2010-03-08.
- "Zimbabwe displays 'Biblical Ark'". BBC News. 2010-02-18.