Lost Jewish tribe celebrated Hanukkah in India

According to Shavei Israel, thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe community gathered to celebrate Hanukkah in India even though their community left Israel during the Assyrian Exile before the Hanukkah story occurred: “Even in far-off India, the flame of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly.”
Photo Credit: Meital Singson

According to a press release by Shavei Israel, an organization dedicated to helping Jews reconnect with their heritage, thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe community in India gathered to celebrate Hanukkah this past week. As part of the event, women from the community gathered in the town of Churachandpur in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur to make sufganiyot.

This event is considered to be significant because the Bnei Menashe community are descended from the Tribe of Menashe, which left the land of Israel during the Assyrian Exile before the Hanukkah story occurred over 2,700 years ago.  However, in recent years, the community has been returning to Orthodox Judaism in droves and Hanukkah celebrations in India represent part of this trend. So far, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliyah thanks to Shavei Israel. Another 7,000 live in India, awaiting to make Aliyah to Israel.

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The story of the Maccabees’ heroic determination to preserve their Jewish identity resonates very strongly with the Bnei Menashe, who, with tremendous effort, have still managed to cling to their faith and that of their ancestors through the centuries,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Even in far-off India, the flame of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly. May those women cook up those calories next year in Jerusalem.”



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