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A Chanukah Treat for India's "Lost Tribe" Bnei Menashe


Malkah Fleisher, Arutz Sheva Israel National News, December 22, 2008


(IsraelNN.com) The Bnei Menashe of northeastern India will have an added reason to celebrate this week with the release of a new book on the laws and customs of Chanukah in their native languages of Mizo and Kuki as well as Hebrew.

Calling themselves the "sons of Menasseh" due to their belief that they are descendants of the lost tribe named after one of Jacob's 12 sons, the group is increasing its adherence to ancient Jewish customs despite a long hiatus in many Jewish practices, thanks to the Shavei Israel organization.

The ancestors of the Bnei Menashe, who observed Jewish Sabbath, kosher, and sexual laws for generations, were exiled 560 years prior to the war and miracles commemorated during the Chanukah holiday, making this the first Chanukah ever for some members of the group.

To help them properly appreciate and observe Chanukah, Shavei Israel has already distributed 1,000 copies of the first-of-its-kind book throughout northeastern Indian Bnei Menashe communities.

"We are proud to publish this very special book on Chanukah for the Bnei Menashe, which aims at helping them to gain a deeper understanding of the laws and customs of the festival," said Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund. "The Bnei Menashe are anxiously awaiting the passage of a decision by Israel's Cabinet to allow them all to come to Israel. We hope that this book will raise their spirits during the holiday and we pray that their dream to come to Israel will soon be fulfilled".

In recent years, Shavei Israel has assisted some 1,500 Bnei Menashe to make Aliyah to Israel, including 230 who settled in the Galilee in 2008.

Shavei Israel, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to strengthening ties between the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities including the Bnei Anusim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, the "Hidden Jews" of Poland from the Holocaust era and others.
(Tags: Bnei Menashe, Chanukah, Books)