Costumes and Cookies: Shavei Israel celebrates Purim around the world

Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis (center) from 2014 celebration in Katowice, PolandThis week, Israel and the Jewish world are celebrating the holiday of Purim. In honor of the joy the Jews felt at their last minute deliverance, Purim today is perhaps the happiest day on the Jewish calendar. Everyone dresses up in costume to read from the Scroll of Esther (the Megilla), deliver treats to friends and family, and attend extravagant parties with loads of kosher hamentaschen. The communities that Shavei Israel works with are getting into the spirit of the holiday, too. Here’s what our emissaries have planned for the rest of Purim week. Read More...

Karaite Jews in Crimea

Karaite cemeteryKarate Judaism is a Jewish movement that recognizes only the Bible as a source for legal authority. Tracing its origins to Baghdad in the 8th century CE, today, there only are an estimated 30,000–50,000 Karaites left, most living in Israel, with smaller communities in Turkey, Europe and the United States. One of these communities can be found in Crimea. While only 800-1,500 Karaites remain in the region, their history goes back more than 700 years. In this special section, we profile this fascinating Jewish community. Read More...

Introducing the Bnei Menashe Tefillin Project

Tefillin (phylacteries) is one of Judaism’s most ancient and revered commandments. When the Jewish people were exiled from the Land of Israel, they took with them the tradition of Tefillin. And when some of the exiled tribes continued their journey eastward from Assyria or Babylon, Tefillin served as a constant connection to the roots of their faith. Today, one of those lost tribes, the Bnei Menashe, continues to observe the mitzvah of Tefillin, but until recently, Tefillin was a rare commodity in India, with no Tefillin manufacturers or scribes in northeastern India. Shavei Israel's Bnei Menashe Tefillin Project aims to address this need. Read More...

Return to Sikkim – Bnei Menashe “Fellows” seminar begins

At last year's seminar in Sikkim with Rabbi Hanoch Avitzedek and Rabbi Yehudi GinThe latest seminar for Bnei Menashe “Fellows” in India is now underway. Taking place in the same location as our 2013 seminar, 80 young men and women, representing all of the Bnei Menashe communities in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam and Myanmar (Burma), are participating. The seminar is being held in a picturesque Buddhist village on the slopes of the Himalayas in the Indian state of Sikkim. Shavei Israel staff is flying in from Israel to teach and lead the group. Read More...

Israeli TV documentary on Bnei Menashe – now in English!

In December, we reported on Shavei Israel director of marketing Laura Ben-David’s visit to the Bnei Menashe in Manipur. In the story, we mentioned that Israel’s Channel 10 went to India, too, and was working on a full-length documentary about the community. The video came out a couple of months ago – in Hebrew. Now, an English language version is ready and we have it for you here. Read More...

Shavei Israel emissary joins 400th anniversary commemorations of Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands

Rabbi Salas in Amsterdam Jewish cemeteryIn 1614, the first Jewish cemetery was established in Amsterdam. The cemetery celebrated the 400th anniversary of its construction in December of last year, and Rabbi Elisha Salas, Shavei Israel’s emissary to the Bnei Anousim in Portugal, was invited to attend the festivities. For Rabbi Salas, who is based in Belmonte, Portugal, and works with Bnei Anousim, some of whom are only today rediscovering their roots, seeing how Anousim who fled Portugal for the the Netherlands hundreds of years ago found the freedom to embrace their heritage was an inspiration. Read More...

Shavei Israel communities celebrate Tu B’Shvat 2015 around the world

Chinese Jews celebrating Tu B'Shvat in JerusalemLast week the Jewish world celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the annual “New Year for the Trees,” and Shavei Israel’s communities joined in the fun by holding parties, planting trees and eating plenty of fruits and nuts. From Portugal to Poland, Bogota to Beit Shemesh, “Lost” and “Hidden” Jewish communities had their fill of almonds, cashews, olives, apricots, figs and even the occasional cranberry. Here’s a round-up of pictures and stories from some of those celebrations. Read More...

Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund speaks on IBA News

Last week, Portugal made an historic decision to offer dual citizenship to the descendants of Sephardi Jews who were exiled or compelled to embrace Catholicism as Anousim (or Marranos) during the terrible years of the Inquisition over 500 years ago. Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund was invited to discuss the significance of Portugal's move on IBA (Israel Broadcasting Authority)'s radio news program. We have links to that interview. Read More...

Shavei in the news: Bnei Menashe video from India and Israel

New video documenting Bnei Menashe group's first visit to the Western Wall last weekThe Internet has been all abuzz in the past few weeks with video about Shavei Israel. We wanted to share a few of those links with you. First, a group of Bnei Menashe who made aliyah earlier this year paid their first visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem last week. Our new video documents that visit, including emotional interviews with some of the new immigrants as they break out into heartfelt song. Then we have a video of an original song by Bnei Menashe Daniel Lhungdim. And a Hebrew-language preview of an exciting new television documentary on the Bnei Menashe. Read More...

Portugal offers dual citizenship to Bnei Anousim; time for Israel to make similar overtures

Portuguese parliamentIn 2012, the Spanish government approved a draft bill offering citizenship to the descendants of Sephardi Jews who were exiled or compelled to embrace Catholicism as Anousim (or Marranos) during the terrible years of the Inquisition over 500 years ago. Last week, Portugal followed suit. Shavei Israel offers insight and a response to the news. Read More...

Shavei Israel organizes teen Shabbaton in Poland and meets Steven Spielberg

Shavei Israel marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Italy

VIDEO: Bnei Menashe immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport

New video explains “Who are the Subbotnik Jews?”

Aliyah aftermath: Bnei Menashe receive after-school program and job training in Upper Nazareth