Bnei Menashe immigrants celebrate Simchat Beit HaShoeva

Bnei Menashe immigrants celebrate Simchat Beit HaShoeva

The tractate of Sukkot in the Mishna states that, “He who has not seen the rejoicing of at the place of the water drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life.”

The Mishna is referring to the custom called Simchat Beit HaShoeva, when tens of thousand of spectators would gather in the outer courtyard of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem during the intermediary days of holiday of Sukkot to watch as the most pious members of the community danced and sang songs of praise to G-d.

The ceremony, which is filled with water symbolism, marks the time of year when Jews worldwide pray for the rains to return as the heat of summer gives way to the cooler and wetter winter season.

Simchat Beit Shoeva today is celebrated in much the same way as 2,000 years ago – just not in the Temple.

Jews gather to sing, dance, listen to music, study Torah and enjoy refreshments in the sukkah, the temporary dwelling that recalls the wandering of the Israelites in the deserts after the exodus from Egypt.

The Bnei Menashe community has held Simchat Beit HaShoeva celebrations in India for years, but for many new immigrants, this Sukkot was their first opportunity to experience the joy of the holiday in the Holy Land.

Here are some pictures from the Bnei Menashe Simchat Beit HaShoeva festivities held in Hebron this year.

And here is a video of Bnei Menashe young and old dancing outside the sukkah in Kiryat Shemona in the northern Galilee.

Also during Sukkot, the Acre municipality held a sukka gathering and invited the city’s Bnei Menashe community.

Here are a few photos including Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund with Acre’s Chief Rabbi and Nachshon Mate, a young Bnei Menashe who made aliyah two years ago from Moreh, along the Manipur-Myanmar border, and today serves as a combat engineer in the IDF. (We’ll have more about Nachshon in an upcoming issue.)

May the rains come, plentiful and generous, to replenish the earth, and bring joy to all of the nation of Israel.

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Brian Blum
Brian Blum
brianblum@gmail.com