Bnei Menashe

The Bnei Menashe (sons of Manasseh) claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

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WHAT WE DO

Our activities with Bnei Menashe in India

With over 7,200 Bnei Menashe still in India, Shavei Israel continues on a daily basis to engage the communities.

Community centers in Manipur and in Mizoram

Shavei Israel has established two main centers in India, in Manipur region and in Mizoram. Hebrew language studies are offered along with classes on Jewish history, religion and culture. The primary aim is to prepare the Bnei Menashe still in India for the day when they too will be able to return home to Zion. Additionally, the two centers are designated to assist the community in experiencing and conducting a Jewish way of life in accordance with Jewish law.

Constructing Mikvas (Ritual Baths) and Synagogues

Under Shavei Israel’s efforts to assist the Bnei Menashe community to conduct a Jewish way of life, it has built a number of synagogues and mikvas in India. They are for daily use as well as for the conversion process.

“Young Emissaries” Seminar

Shavei Israel organized a one-month seminar in Nepal for training a group of young people with leadership potential for the various Bnei Menashe communities in all the Indian villages. They participated in intensive studies in Judaism and the fundamentals of group dynamics. The seminar’s objective was to make Shavei Israel’s activities more flexible for this community.

Emissaries

In the past, Shavei Israel has sent out permanent emissaries who constantly accompanied the Bnei Menashe community in India. Today, Shavei Israel supports short-term emissaries who arrive there to strengthen the community.

A Seminar for Women

Every year Shavei Israel organizes a seminar for 40 women aged 18-40 with leadership potential. They are especially trained to teach Hebrew and Judaism.

Connecting with the Bnei Menashe in Israel

About 1,700 Bnei Menashe have made Aliyah to Israel under Shavei Israel’s auspices. Shavei Israel continues to assist Bnei Menashe with their absorption in Israel.

ABSORPTION

Shavei Israel invests tremendous efforts to assist the Bnei Menashe with their absorption in the Jewish state. This includes help in finding employment, acquiring a profession or retraining. Shavei Israel also provides young Bnei Menashe men and women with college scholarships. Furthermore, those who are interested in studying subjects related to Torah, and exhibit a potential for teaching, receive special assistance.

BET MIRIAM

This is a social and cultural club for Bnei Menashe located near Jerusalem. It receives support from the municipality. Its goal is enriching the community, culturally and personally and thereby assisting the community’s adaptation to Israel. Shavei Israel offers a variety of courses at Bet Miriam such as computers, English, Hebrew and Judaism. In addition, there is a Limmudiyah there: The girls come to Bet Miriam in the afternoons to receive help with their studies. During vacation periods, there are day camps for the children and throughout the entire year, there are special activities for teenagers.

PUBLICATION OF THE INFORMATION BULLETIN

Shavei Israel publishes a weekly bulletin in Israel and in Manipur, in several languages. The bulletin deals with Judaism, Jewish law, the weekly torah (bible) portion and news about Israel.

BOOK PUBLISHING

Shavei Israel prepares basic books on Judaism, especially in the Mizo language, in order to assist the Bnei Menashe community in its steps towards getting closer to rabbinical Judaism. To date, we have published prayer books, the Pentateuch (in several languages), Sabbath hymnals, material on Halachah and the Jewish faith.

THE GOVERNMENT (OF ISRAEL)

Shavei Israel attaches great importance that people in government positions, from municipalities, through the Knesset up to the cabinet itself, understand just who the Bnei Menashe are, what are this community’s roots and why it is so important to assist them.

OUR STORIES


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