Mourning the Temples: Bnei Menashe connect with the past, long for the future
The ‘Three Weeks’ on the Jewish calendar, which begin on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz and end on the 9th of Av, is a period of mourning and introspection commemorating the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples.
In Nof Hagalil, a town in the Galilee region, a group of Bnei Menashe immigrants from Mizoram in India’s northeast, have taken advantage of this time to truly mourn and reflect. The day before the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, a group of Bnei Menashe from this town participated in a special learning program centered around these 3 weeks. A collaborative effort between Shavei Israel, the hesder yeshiva in Nof Hagalil and the municipality produced a special booklet in Mizo that teaches about that special time. Then using that booklet as a guide – and with translation between Mizo and Hebrew – a Zoom learning program was set up with Tzvi Haokip, Shavei’s Bnei Menashe Coordinator, as well as Yitzhak Kawlni, who also works with the Bnei Menashe, plus boys at the Nof Hagalil hesder yeshiva, Rav Uriel of the Garin Torani of Nof Hagalil (the religious group that works with the Bnei Menashe there) and the rabbi of the city. More than 50 people, mostly Bnei Menashe, participated.
Tzvi Haokip had this to say about the program: “We are mourning the destruction of the temple and praying for the restoration of the temple. People got to ask questions about this, plus learn the importance of Torah study. It was a great experience and helped people connect to the true meaning of the Three Weeks. Whoever mourns the destruction of the Temple will see the restoration of the Temple – something Bnei Menashe already relate to. How much more so to see the ingathering of the exiles.”