The Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Poriya, located on the ridge above Tiberias by the Kinneret, is accommodating the special needs of Jewish immigrants who must be transferred not only geographically, from the exotic regions of earth, but also in time, from forgotten ages to the 21st century.
A case in point is the community of Bnei Menashe, a small group of indigenous people from northeastern India, who claim they are descendants from the lost tribes of Israel, and have adopted the practice of Judaism. The Bnei Menashe speak Tibeto-Burman languages, and they probably migrated into northeast India from Burma in the 17th and 18th centuries. Israeli Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, of the group Amishav which seeks evidence of the existence of exiled “ten tribes” in the world, named the group Bnei Menashe based on their account of descent from the tribe of Menasseh.
When a group of about 7,000 of these northeastern Indian Jews arrived in Israel six years ago, some of whom settled down in the vicinity of Tiberias (which is quite aways to the north of where the Biblical tribe of Menashe originally lived), the local hospital has taken upon itself to usher them into the wonderful medical advantages of modern times. And so the Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Poriya, a week ago hosted a meeting of agroup of Bnei Menashe women with its infectious diseases supervisor, Nurse Ilana Aharon from the Epidemiology Department.
The meeting, at the local chapter of WIZO, explored hygiene as the key to health. This included personal hygiene and dental hygiene, as well as keeping homes, courtyards and streets clean. Aharon also covered the importance of proper nutrition—eating vegetables every day—and physical exercise in maintaining health.
Another issue stressed in the meeting was the danger of smoking, which causes a long list of damages to health in addition to lung cancer: diminishing vitamin C deposits, blood diseases, impaired vision, and impotence. Most of the smokers in the Bnei Menashe community are the husbands, but family members suffer by exposure to secondary smoke.