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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bnei Menashe’

Bnei Menashe Olim from India Settle in Golan Heights

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

The Shavei Israel organization brought a group of 78 Bnei Menashe immigrants on Aliyah Thursday from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, which borders Burma and Bangladesh.

Absorption Minister Zev Elkin greeted the immigrants upon arrival.

The new Olim will settle in Katzrin on the Golan Heights, which was the tribal patrimony of Manasseh in Biblical times.

This is the first time that Shavei Israel is settling a group of Bnei Menashe on the Golan, approximately 2,700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the land.

Hundreds of Bnei Menashe from India Arriving in Israel

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, June 19 – Forty-three members of the Lost Tribe of Bnei Menashe arrived yesterday in Israel. The new Olim (immigrants to Israel) hail from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, and they bring the total number of Bnei Menashe who have made Aliya this month to 250. Thus far, since the start of the year, 410 Bnei Menashe have come here, the largest number that has ever been recorded. The immigrants were brought to the Jewish state by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, which received permission from the Israeli government last October to bring 900 Bnei Menashe to Israel by 2015. The remaining 490 Bnei Menashe (out of the total of 900) will be brought to Israel by Shavei Israel by year’s end. “It is so moving to see the Lost Tribe of Bnei Menashe returning to Zion and rejoining the people of Israel,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund.

“After 2,700 years, the Bnei Menashe are returning to our people and our land, and we won’t stop until all the remaining 7,000 community members still in India will be able to come here,” Freund added.

“This is a great day for me and my family, and for all of the Bnei Menashe,” said Bnei Menashe community chairman Yochanan Phaltual, who made Aliya this morning from India and was reunited with his father and siblings in Israel. “It is a dream come true, the dream of our forefathers, and we thank G-d that we have come home,” he added.

The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Menashe (or Manasseh), one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were exiled by the Assyrian Empire after King Solomon’s death more than 2,700 years ago. In recent years, Shavei Israel has brought some 2,400 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion. Another 7,000 still remain in northeastern India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel and the Jewish people.

Bnei Menashe Children Celebrate Their First Shavuot in Israel

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

On May 26 the Jewish State welcomed home members of the Bnei Menashe community of Northeast India. Today they are already celebrating their first Shavuot in Israel at the Shavei Israel immigrant absorption center in Kfar Hadidim, near Haifa.

The new Olim, who hail from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, were brought to Israel by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, which received permission from the Israeli government last October to bring 900 Bnei Menashe to the Jewish State by 2015.

The Bnei Menashe are considered to be descendants of the tribe of Menashe (or Manasseh), one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel exiled by the Assyrian Empire after King Solomon’s death more than 2,700 years ago.

“After 2,700 years, we are bringing members of the Lost Tribe of Bnei Menashe home to Israel. Their arrival here on the eve of Shavuot is particularly fortuitous, since they will now be able to celebrate the festival of the giving of the Torah for the first time here in the Jewish state,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

Recently arrived Bnei Menashe children with Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

Recently arrived Bnei Menashe children with Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

About 40 people came home to Israel on this trip. That 40 are part of the larger group of 250 that Shavei Israel is bringing to Israel through the summer. Altogether, Shavei Israel has already brought 1,500 Bnei Menashe to Israel. There are 7,000 Bnei Menashe still living in India who hope to make Aliyah to Israel.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world.

The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to as the derogatory “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.

Ancient Chinese Jewish Community to Hold First Traditional Seder in China

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Kaifeng, China, April 7 – Nearly 100 members of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, are expected to attend a first-of-its-kind traditional Passover Seder that will take place next Monday, April 14, at the start of the holiday in Kaifeng. The Seder, which is being sponsored by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, will be conducted for the first time by 28-year-old Tzuri (Heng) Shi, who made Aliyah from Kaifeng a few years ago with the help of Shavei Israel and completed his formal return to Judaism last year.

As part of the preparation for the upcoming Seder, Tzuri was sent to Kaifeng by the Shavei Israel organization with all of the traditional Passover items including: Kosher Matzah packages from Israel, Kosher for Passover wine, Passover Haggadahs, which were prepared especially in Hebrew and Chinese, Kosher for Passover cakes, traditional red horseradish, and traditional Charoset.

“We are proud and excited to organize this historic event,” said Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund. “Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, and it is very moving to see the remnants of this community returning to their Jewish roots as they prepare for Passover,” he added.

Scholars believe the first Jews settled in Kaifeng, which was one of China’s imperial capitals, during the 8th or 9th Century. They are said to have been Sephardic Jewish merchants from Persia or Iraq who made their way eastward along the Silk Route and established themselves in the city with the blessing of the Chinese emperor.

In 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a large and beautiful synagogue, which was subsequently renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions throughout the centuries. At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Kaifeng Jewish community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But widespread intermarriage and assimilation, as well as the death of the community’s last rabbi, brought about its demise by the middle of the 19th century.

Nevertheless, many of the families sought to preserve their Jewish identity and pass it down to their descendants, who continued to observe various Jewish customs. Currently, there are estimated to be approximately 1,000 Jewish descendants in Kaifeng.

“In recent years, many members of the community have begun to explore their heritage – thanks in part to the Internet, which opened up new worlds for them and provided access to information about Judaism and Israel that was previously inaccessible to them,” Freund noted.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to as the derogatory “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.

Watch the video of the Kaifeng community preparing for Pesach, being led in v’hi sh’amda by Ram, a chazan from the Kaifeng Jewish community.

Seventh Hanukkah Candle to Be Lit in Seven Nations Simultaneously

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Immigrants to Israel from seven countries will light Hanukkah candles Tuesday night simultaneously with Jews in seven other countries in a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

The candle lighting in Israel will take place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, where 300 young olim  from France, Ethiopia, the United States, Yemen, Latvia, Latin America, and the Bnei Menashe community of India will be joined by Jews lighting at the same time in Paris, London, Moscow, Kiev, Tashkent and Budapest.

The event will be broadcast live  here at 3:30 p.m. Israel time (8:30 a.m. EST).

Indian Tribe Aliyah Approved

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Israel’s government approved the immigration of the Bnei Menashe, an Indian tribe that claims Jewish ancestry.

The approval comes after a five-year gap since the last group of Bnei Menashe arrived in Israel.

Members of the group, who claim descent from the lost tribe of Menashe, must undergo a conversion process even though it is accepted as fact that they have Jewish roots.

The Cabinet on Oct. 25 voted to restart the tribe’s aliyah. A flight of more than 270 Bnei Menashe reportedly will arrive in the coming weeks, according to Army Radio.

The new immigration reportedly will be funded and facilitated by Shavei Israel, a non-governmental organization that helps locate and reconnect to Judaism and Israel the descendants of Jews.

Some 1,700 Bnei Menashe are living in Israel, and as many as 9,000 remain in India and Burma, according to the Times of Israel.

A Homecoming For A Lost Tribe Of Israel

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

In the farthest reaches of northeastern India, a long-lost community is about to fulfill its age-old dream of returning to its ancient homeland, the land of Israel.
 
The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” are descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 27 centuries ago. The community – which numbers some 7,232 – resides primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.
 
Despite generations of wandering, the Bnei Menashe never forgot who they were, where they had come from, or where they aspired to return.
 
Three times a day, every day, they turn in silent prayer toward Jerusalem, pleading with the Creator to put an end to their long exile and bring them home to Zion.
 
That dream is now poised, at last, to become a reality.
 
In late June, an extraordinary meeting of Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption took place in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. At the top of the agenda was the issue of the Bnei Menashe.
 
As chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization that has been assisting the community for over a decade, I had lobbied intensively for much of the past year for the committee to address the issue.
 
Testifying before the assembled ministers, I spoke of the 1,700 Bnei Menashe who have already made aliyah, and their success in integrating into Israeli society.
 
Approximately 96 percent of Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel are employed, supporting themselves and their families and contributing to the state and its economy. A mere 4 percent – less than half the national average – are reliant on social welfare to make ends meet.
 
Nearly all young Bnei Menashe men are drafted into the army, with a majority serving in combat units. And a growing number of Bnei Menashe youth are pursuing higher education at Israeli colleges and universities in fields ranging from computer science to social work. Several have also received rabbinical ordination after years of study in yeshiva.
 
Rest assured, I told the ministers, the Bnei Menashe are our lost brethren. In March 2005, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized them as “descendants of Israel,” and said they should be brought to the Jewish state.
 
He also ruled that because they were cut off from their people for millennia, the Bnei Menashe are required to undergo conversion to remove any doubt about their personal status.
 
Put simply, I said, the Bnei Menashe are a blessing to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel, and they strengthen us no less than we do them.
 
So I turned to the members of the committee and made a simple yet forceful plea: It is time for Israel to let the remaining Bnei Menashe come home.
 
And then a miracle took place. After deliberating the matter, the ministerial committee, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, formally decided to draft a government resolution and bring it to the cabinet over the summer.
 
The resolution will permit all the remaining Bnei Menashe in India to make aliyah, and will finally bring an end to their years of waiting.
 
This means there will soon be a historic turning point, one that will restore these 7,232 precious souls to the Jewish people.
 
The Bnei Menashe are part of the extended Jewish family. They are committed Zionists who observe the Torah and its commandments, and who are reaching out across the centuries to reconnect with our people. We need to extend a welcoming hand back, and bring them to Jerusalem.
 
As I listened to the committee approve its decision, I truly felt as if I was standing on the banks of the Red Sea, watching the waters begin to part.
 
Soon enough, I am sure, the Bnei Menashe will cross the sea, reuniting with the Land and people of Israel after a remarkable journey.
 

Just as the prophets foretold, Manasseh’s children are at last coming home. Let’s welcome them with open arms.

 

  

 

Michael Freund is a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization which assists the Bnei Menashe and other “lost Jews” to return to the Jewish people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/a-homecoming-for-a-lost-tribe-of-israel/2011/07/13/

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