Are you a descendant of the House of David?

A new museum founded by philanthropist Susan Roth claims it can tell you if you are Jewish royalty.

King david coin temple 311 (photo credit: King David Private Museum and Research Center.)
King david coin temple 311
(photo credit: King David Private Museum and Research Center.)
Are you a descendant of the House of David? If you have ever wondered if blue blood flows through your veins, you might consider visiting the King David Private Museum and Research Center, which reopened on Monday in its new location in central Tel Aviv.
Better yet, run your name through the museum’s online database that curators vow will accurately tell you whether you are related to the monarch from the 10th century BCE (
The museum, which was founded by Jewish-American philanthropist Susan Roth, is dedicated to telling the story of the ginger shepherd from Bethlehem who became the leader of the Jewish people.
“We want to show who King David was not only here – but also in America and other countries – and especially here because right now the younger generation consider themselves simply Israeli, not Jews,” Roth said in an interview after the museum’s rededication.
The small exhibition, which was previously housed in the Old City of Jerusalem, provides various depictions of the Hebrew king from throughout history including famous paintings and sculptures by the likes of Michelangelo and others. In addition, it displays a few archeological artifacts related to his life including ancient slingshots and pebbles, similar to the ones David is said to have used to slay the mighty Philistine giant Goliath.
“This museum is proof that we would are not a nation of 63 years as some would like us to believe, but in fact we are a nation [that is] 3,000 years old – and that we didn’t take this country from anybody,” said Roth. “In fact, it was taken from us several times.”
Don’t try to ascribe a political agenda to the museum, Roth said, sensing the next question, as you won’t find it.
She is, however, proud of her support of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and of Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem.
Roth said she influenced the government during the early ’90s under prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and funded protests to keep Rachel’s Tomb in Israeli hands.
“The government realized that they can’t give it away, and that’s how it was saved,” she said.
Roth, who claims to be a direct descent of David, is royalty in another sense. She is the daughter of Pesach and Lilian Burstein, and the twin sister of Mike Burstein.
Together, the family made up the Four Bursteins, the internationally famous Yiddish theater troupe. She is proud of her pedigree but said her interest in Judaism as a religious way of life and in Kabbala did not stem from her upbringing. Rather, it came much later, only as an adult.
“There was no religion connected to it,” she said. “My parents and my brother and I were actors. In a way it was the forerunner of what I’m doing now, since we were entertaining the survivors who needed to hear a Jewish word because they lost everything.”
But if you’re one for science you might not be impressed by the replicas, artifacts and other tchotchkes on display. The only non-biblical evidence that refers to the House of David is the Tel Dan Stele, a replica of which is shown at the entrance to the exhibition. And its authenticity is disputed by some scholars.
“There’s no doubt a historical King David existed, because the scribes of the Bible give us detailed accounts that fit in with other sources of the time,” noted archaeologist Israel Finkelstein said over the phone on Monday. “But the Bible itself is ambiguous in describing the kingdom in various ways and with various boundaries – one time it says [the kingdom] straddled Dan to Beersheba, and another time the Euphrates to Egypt.”
Finkelstein said David may have been a leader of great import in the history of the Kingdom of Judea but that archeological evidence directly related to him was extremely scarce. Furthermore, what does exist suggests he ruled over much less of the land than what was credited to him in the biblical narrative. Finkelstein suggested we think of David as a chieftain of a small but ambitious tribe rather than a mighty king lording over distant lands.
“A founder of a 10th-century BCE dynasty in the Judean Hills existed, but it doesn’t mean he had the power later attributed to him,” Finkelstein said.
For most believers, however, including Roth, the Holy Scriptures do not allow such a minimalist interpretation.
She is a staunch believer in David the Great. And if more people learned about him and even discovered that they were his direct descendants – which she believes can be scientifically proven – then the Jewish people would truly fulfill its destiny of being a light upon the nations.
“Come to the museum,” she implores the disbelievers.
“Come and you will see that David wasn’t a myth.”