S havei Israel was founded in 2002 by Michael Freund. While serving as the Deputy Communications Director under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997, Freund opened an envelope that arrived in the mail one day. That simple action was to profoundly change his life as well as that of many others.
The letter was from a group in northeastern India called the Bnei Menashe. They said they were descendants of the tribe of Menashe, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and were pleading to return to the Promised Land. Their letter sent Freund on a mission to learn all he could about the Lost Tribes of Israel. In the process, he discovered that all across the world there are “lost Jews” dreaming of returning to their Jewish roots.
Bnei Anousim (or Marranos) whose ancestors were compelled to convert during the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago
Descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel such as the Bnei Menashe
Hidden Jews from the Holocaust era
Subbotnik Jews whose forefathers embraced Judaism two centuries ago
The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng
Jews of the Amazon
The Inca Jews of Trujillo
The Jews of San Nicandro and the Bnei Anousim of Sicily and southern Italy
…has helped more than 2,000 Bnei Anousim from Spain and Portugal and over 1,000 Hidden Jews from Poland reconnect with their Jewish heritage.
…has brought over 3,000 Bnei Menashe to Israel. There are still another 7,000 waiting to make their way from India.
…continues to reach out to lost Jews and assist them in coming to terms with their heritage and identity in a spirit of tolerance and understanding.
…has maintained a position of not proselytizing nor does it support any form of missionary activity. Shavei Israel responds to personal expressions of desire to return to Judaism.