12 Apr Shavei Israel Introduces New Phrasebook to Help Bnei Menashe Learn Hebrew
The Journey of a tribe of people from the ancient kingdom of Israel all the way out to the foothills of the Himalayas-and back to an Israel that has changed so drastically, can only be described in one way: miraculous.
The Bnei Menashe, whose ancestral origin is Jacob’s grandson Menashe, have a story as old as the Bible itself.
After they were exiled by the Assyrian army, most of their traditions and culture was lost on their millenia long journey to their villages in the regions of Manipur, Mizoram and Chin in rural India.
Unbeknownst to them, in 1948, there was a fledgling Jewish State that was founded by a long-suffering global Jewish community. This curiosity about the outside Jewish world reached a tipping point in 1997 when Michael Freund, then Deputy Director of Communications for Prime Minister Netanyahu received a letter from the Bnei Menashe Regional Council, explaining who they were and why they wanted to immigrate to Israel.
Since then, there has been a movement both by the Israeli Government and by the non-profit Shavei Israel to bring the Bnei Menashe to re-settle in the modern State of Israel and help them integrate into modern Jewish society.
So far, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliyah thanks to Shavei Israel, including more than 1,100 in the past four years. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home to Zion. Public and private funds have been used to build community infrastructure and programming to make them feel at home once they do make the trip. This includes a 360 degree Jewish education with Hebrew classes-and now a phrasebook produced by Shavei Israel to help new immigrants translate from one of their native languages, Kuki.
The book, which contains hundreds of entries divided into dozens of categories, is aimed at easing the transition into Israeli society for the new arrivals. For the 7,000 Bnei Menashe remaining in India, the phrasebook will be used to enhance their knowledge of Hebrew in preparation for their eventual Aliyah.
“Shavei Israel is proud to be publishing the first ever Hebrew-Kuki phrasebook,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “It is part of our ongoing efforts to reach out to the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India and assist them as they reconnect with the Jewish people after 2,700 years of exile.”