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Twelve Tribes of Israel?


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It looks like this group has been mentioned a few times on various threads, but I didn't see any one thread devoted to them, so I thought I'd start one and see if anyone was familiar with them...

I had never heard of them until I went to Plymouth, Mass. this past weekend for a family wedding. Apparently, however, they have a fairly large presence in Plymouth. First it was the organic/natural living store which appears to be run by them: it's closed on Saturdays and had Twelve Tribes literature on a table in the front.

Then we visited a bakery/coffee shop that also appeared to be run by them. The restroom was literally PLASTERED with Twelve Tribes lit. Like, their literature made up the wallpaper. I struggled to do my business and leave the restroom instead of staying in there reading the walls in fascination.

All I can gather about this group is:

1) They seem to live communally, around NY, Mass. and Vermont. Not exactly fundie stronghold areas..

2) They are, I think, Messianic, as indicated by the closing businesses on Saturdays and their referring to Jesus as Yashua. And, of course, calling themselves the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

3) They really, really don't like Dr. Spock. This was from a pamphlet I took from the organic store that basically linked Dr. Spock (and lack of spanking/"discipline") to the downfall of American society.

4) They seem to have sprung out of hippie groups of the 1960s. Their literature talked a lot about the 1960s "movement" as when all hell broke loose in America, but unlike a lot of fundies, they conceded that the "movement" had good intentions but couldn't succeed b/c it was based in rebellion.

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Wow, I'd never heard of them, but it's been years since I've been to Plymouth - maybe not since the Obligatory Massachusetts Grade School Field Trip. We don't have too many fundies in MA, though that may be changing because the Family Integrated Church Council (Kelly Bradrick's dad's org) had a conference here last year.

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Earlier this year I had a really interesting conversation with one of their members at a festival here in town. We were eating and my daughter plopped down next to a tree next to where they were sitting and camped out. She was playing with one of their little girls. (My daughter is 2 and has no boundaries, btw)

So we sit down and the Mom of the girl is asking questions about my family, I have three children in all, all 3 and under and she was telling me how great that was and went on to ask about what our background was spiritually and I did the same to her. This turned into a 2 hour conversation and this is what I learned:

1. They don't identify as Christian, she said they don't follow a particular denomination but the Bible only.

2. They live communally because the Early Church called for people to look after one another and to not let anyone fall into poverty or sin in trying to maintain personal wealth and possessions.

3. They don't like for kids to spend too much time daydreaming or playing because they tend to get distracted from "real life" (not sure what she meant by that).

4. They usually have home births and use homeopathic methods for everything.

5. They believe most modern churches are WRONG about everything.

6. They believe in spanking, it is ALL over their publications and website.

7. They adopt Hebrew names when they officially join. This particular lady joined when she turned 22, she was 28 when we talked. She married a guy in the community when she was 24 and had 2 kids- one my daughter's age and a baby.

8. They home school and don't seek higher education, she said it was wasteful, apparently she met the group while in college and they converted her in Chattanooga. She dropped out and moved in with them shortly after.

9. She made sure to reassure me that they had people of color in their communities lol, because I am one, there was an old black man playing guitar the day we saw them but that was it.

10. They are global. Just here in TN there are 3 communities I think, but they are all over the country and world.

They have a community about an hour from where we live. The girl was sweet as can be and BEGGED my family to come visit because we had some oddly similar beliefs on some things, but others, like children not playing would be an issue for me because my kids love TV and games and are either robots or ninjas all day long sooooo... :whistle:

They are interesting people and I love their music, some of their lifestyle appeals to me to be honest, but there are a lot of other things I can't get behind.

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Embarassed to admit I actually made a summer road trip out of visiting all the north-eastern US States and visiting each of the 12 Tribes communes/stores because I was just so fascinated. Definitely faux-Jew.

A bit more aloof and 'set apart', and not a really warm vibe the way I had expected in that fundy-friendly-warm-bffs way.

It was.... odd?

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I am a long time mostly lurker, but this is actually a subject I am very well-versed in. I went to college in a town with a 12 Tribes community and they had a (very popular, super delicious) restaurant in town: yellowdeli.com . They are Messianic, patriarchal (women either wear long skirts or these very baggy pants that we always called "balloon pants" that cinched at their ankles) and live in communes (they say that they live in a weCommunity and that everyone else is in an iSociety in some of their handouts). They proselytize heavily to college kids (chase you down the sidewalk wanting to "talk" proselytizing), handing out flyers and pamphlets on the streets and offering visits to their home for music nights, family dinners and dances if you sounded the slightest bit interested- at least they did in our town.

The community in my town made most of their money off of handyman/carpentry jobs before Yellow Deli opened and were very good at it. They build all of their restaurants themselves and they are gorgeous. Lots of reclaimed wood with leather and metal accents. The sell locally sourced meat (no pork!)and vegetables, with home baked bread, so they cater to the hippish clientele in the towns that have restaurants as well as college students (cheaper food, open 24/5-Sunday afternoon to Friday morning- so that you could stop by and get a sandwich and coffee after drinking all night, encouraged study groups in the restaurant).

They have in the been accused of indoctrinating teenagers through their restaurants (totally believable, in my experience) and their kids are rarely seen out of the commune, which I find very odd. There was a huge case in Vermont in the 80s where CPS took the children out of one of their communities based on allegations of child abuse rickross.com/reference/tribes/tribes24.html .

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