Beyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes.
Narrated by Stacy Keach.
Grades 5 - 10 / Ages 10 - 15.
The fate of the ten lost tribes of Israel has captured the attention of scholars, theologians and adventurers for more than 2000 years. The history of the quest is a tale of its own, and that story is chronicled in this CD-ROM which is based on an exhibition held at the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv.
For those whose knowledge of theology needs updating, the ten tribes of Israel were conquered by the Assyrians and exiled to northern Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) in 722-721 B.C. The other two remaining tribes form what is considered the basis for modern-day Israel and the Western Jewry. The ten tribes were never found. An ancient myth says that God surrounded them by a raging river, the Sambatyon, which is impassable except on the Sabbath. But the piety of the ten tribes makes it impossible for them to violate the Sabbath, so they are forever prevented from returning to Israel.
The quest to find the tribes has unearthed Jewish groups or groups whose customs mirror Judaism all over the world, from Chiang Min, China, to Lemba, South Africa, to Japan and the Mormons of Utah. The CD, Beyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes details the discovery of these groups, the story of the people who sought them out, and offers explanations for the true origins of these groups.
The CD-ROM requires a 486SX/25, Windows 3.1, 4 MB of RAM, 5 MB hard drive space, a double-speed CD-ROM drive, 256 colour SuperVGA monitor; and a sound card. On a computer that exceeded those requirements, this program loaded slowly, and its operation was slow and irregular. Throughout its use, the wallpaper pages came in in patches, and sometimes did not come in completely. The text on those pages was difficult to discern before the wallpaper became clear, and the choice of background colour and illustrations made the words difficult to decipher even when the program worked properly. There was a several second delay between screens when icons were selected. The narration by Stacy Keach was interrupted repeatedly. Syllables were repeated or skipped at intermittent intervals, making it difficult to listen to.
The historical content of the CD-ROM is divided into geographical areas, personalities, testimonies of people who have moved to Israel from the Diaspora, and text detailing the history of the ten tribes, and other information. The information contained on the disc is interesting and comprehensive. There is a good association between the different content areas. An atlas shows where the different Jewish or other groups live, many of whom were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam to survive, but maintained their Jewish heritage. A click gives their history and religious customs, a picture and music from that region of the world. The music can be turned off. The video clips of Jews from South Africa and India provide an insight into a section of world Jewry about which little is known. The personalities who have pursued the ten lost tribes over the many centuries inform the user about the scholarly and theological accomplishments of Jews despite systemic discrimination and persecution.
However, the poor functioning of the CD-ROM makes this a poor purchase. Furthermore, even though the information is interesting, it is not presented in a fashion that is especially enhanced by the CD-ROM format, except for the video clips. A beautiful book, using the existing illustrations and text, would convey the same or more information with no delays, and could be referenced at any time. The current fad to convert all information to CD-ROM format is a trend that will result in many discs gathering dust on the shelf. This disc is one of them.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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