Bnei Menashe Seder in India reflects hopes of aliya
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Bnei Menashe Seder in India reflects hopes of aliya

Community that claims descent from ancient Israelite tribe already has thousands of members in Israel

  • Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
    Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
  • Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
    Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
  • Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
    Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
  • Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
    Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
  • Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)
    Hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community hold a model Passover seder in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (Jonathan Haukip/Shavei Israel)

They haven’t moved to Israel yet, but over 550 members of the Bnei Menashe community in India held a “model Seder” to commemorate the Passover tale of redemption and homecoming this week.

Facilitated by the Shavei Israel organization, the community, which believes it is descended from the long-lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh dispersed during the Assyrian conquest of northern Israel in Biblical times, marked the upcoming Passover holiday with the traditional Seder meal and a lesson about the holiday’s customs and meaning.

The event took place at the Shavei Israel Hebrew Center in Churachandpur, in the Indian state of Manipur. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe live in India, according to Shavei Israel. About 3,000 have already moved to Israel, a move that remains the goal of the rest of the community, according to local communal leader T.K. Avihu Singsit.

“Passover symbolizes the Jewish people’s deliverance, and the Seder embodies the deepest hopes of the Bnei Menashe community, which has been dreaming for so long to make Aliyah,” Shavei Israel’s founder Michael Freund said in a press release Wednesday.

Freund is an American Jewish immigrant to Israel. He founded the Shavei Israel organization to work with groups who claim descent from Jewish communities destroyed or dispersed throughout history, including the conversos of the Spanish-speaking world, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia and others.

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