Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm Celebrating Sukkot with the Children of B'nei Menashe

Shalom Yeladim:

I want to introduce you to my new friends.
These boys belong to a community called B'nei Menashe. The people of this community say they are descendants of the tribe of Menashe which was sent into exile more than 27 centuries ago by the Assyrian Empire. In other words, the B'nei Menashe claim they are one of the lost 10 tribes!

Do you know what the words B'nei Menashe -- בני מנשה --  mean?
That's right, the sons and daughters of Menashe.

Let's go back to the time of the Bible. Who was Menashe?
He was one of Joseph's two sons. The other son was Ephraim. Many fathers bless their sons on Friday night by reciting the blessing
ישמחה אלוקים כאפריים ומנשה -- May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.

Why this blessing?
Because Jacob blessed his two grandsons instead of their father Joseph. He wanted them to become role models for all Jews.
Here's an interesting thought: Their mother was Egyptian. Now, that's something to discuss!

Where do today's  B'nei Menashe come from?
North East India. Somewhere between Mynamar and Bangladesh is a piece of land where the Bnei Menashe have been living a Jewish way of life. Their customs and beliefs are very similar to the Biblical Children of Israel. 

So awesome, that when an Israeli organization called Shavei Yisrael found about them and discovered that the B'nei Menashe want to return to live in the Jewish homeland, the organization's director -- Michael Freund -- travelled to India to meet them.  Sure enough, he discovered that they celebrate Sukkot just like the rest of us. Maybe that's when he decided he would do everything to help bring this community back to Israel?!

So far, Shavei Yisrael has brought 2000 members of the B'nei Menashe to Israel. That's how I met my new friends. Close to 7,000 are still waiting back in India. I'm looking forward to meeting ALL of them, AND I'm looking forward to meeting other long lost Jews brought over by Shavei Israel.

You gotta admit: you and I, we belong to an interesting nation.

Chag Sameach!!!!

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