Bnei Menashe celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in India (and Safed)

“With hope and prayer we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in Manipur, but next year in Zion!” writes Shavei Israel’s coordinator for the Bnei Menashe in India Meital Singson. That was the theme of this year’s Israel Independence Day celebrations in Manipur, which drew more than 1,500 Bnei Menashe men, women and children to the B. Vegnom community hall in Churachandpur. We have the story...and pictures. Read More...

PICTURES: American student group visits Palermo

Two weeks ago, we shared with you a video of a group of American students on the Kivunim gap year program who visited the infamous Steri Palace in Palermo. Shavei Israel’s emissary Rabbi Pinhas Punturello made the visit happen and shot the video of the group spontaneously breaking out into song. Rabbi Punturello has sent us more pictures from the group’s visit, and an update on their activities. We have it here. Read More...

In search of lost Jews: Iberian Peninsula gives up its secrets

The New Jersey News reports on two couples who last year participated in a 15-day Jewish Heritage Tour of Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar. One of the participants presents her account of their introduction to the fascinating story of the Crypto Jews of Portugal. The group visited the mountain villages of Belmonte, Castello de Vide, Trancoso, Tomar where the Spanish Jews settled. "The villages are charming and picturesque, with narrow cobblestone streets, writes Bella Scharf Zelingher. Read More...

Israel Independence Day booklet published for first time in Polish

This year, Jews in Poland have an added reason to celebrate Israel Independence Day: the first ever booklet in Polish on Yom Ha’atzmaut has been published by Shavei Israel. The booklet was a real team effort. The idea came from Shavei Israel’s emissary to Krakow, Rabbi Avi Baumol, who noted that, while the Polish Jewish community enthusiastically marks the founding of the state of Israel, it has never had any guide to the customs and prayers of the day written in Polish. Rabbi Baumol wrote and prepared the texts; Olga, a young Polish woman who visited Israel in 2014 on a Shavei Israel-sponsored seminar, translated it; and Shavei Israel staff members Tzivia Kusminksy and Esther Surikova created the graphics. Read More...

Meet Emunah and Eden: Shavei Israel’s new “Fellows” in Mynmar (Burma)

Group in Myanmar (Burma)The distance between the village of Kaleymo in Myanmar (Burma) and the northeastern Indian border town of Moreh is a mere 70 miles. But here, in the foothills of the Himalayas, the trip takes no less than a full day. That didn’t stop Emunah Hanvung and Eden Suantak, two Bnei Menashe young women from Myanmar, from joining Shavei Israel’s most recent seminar for Bnei Menashe “Fellows” in India. Here is their story. Read More...

Kivunim students visit Steri Palace in Sicily

Kivunim students at Steri PalaceKivunim is a gap year program that brings pre-college American Jews to Jewish communities around the world to learn about their roots. The latest Kivunim cohort found themselves recently in Palermo where they met with Shavei Israel’s emissary to the Bnei Anousim in Sicily and southern Italy, Rabbi Pinhas Punturello. Together, they visited the infamous Steri Palace. Read More...

Bnei Anousim women bring Seder Amenim to Colombia

The A “Seder Amenim” is an ancient tradition where Jewish women come together for a festive meal in order to recite in unison five “Amen’s” following the blessings for the five main food categories. Women from the Bnei Menashe community in India have been observing the “Seder Amenim” (literally, the order of Amen’s) for many years; now the tradition has come to Colombia. Read More...

Chinese Jews celebrate Passover in Kaifeng

Reading from the Haggadah in China 2015Our coordinator for the Jewish community of Kaifeng Eran Barzilay sent us some great pictures from Passover celebrations in China this year. The Jewish world marks the holiday pretty much the same way everywhere - with matzo, eggs and reading from the Haggadah - even in the farthest flung spots on the globe. Check out our pictures. Read More...

El Salvador to hold weekend Shabbaton with special guests Michael Freund and Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum

El Salvador community leaders in synagogue during PurimThe El Salvador Bnei Anousim community is holding a seminar this weekend. Filled with classes, prayer, singing and shared meals, the Shabbaton will feature as guest speakers Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund and Shavei’s Educational Director Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum. But perhaps the highlight of the weekend will be a visit to San Salvador’s Quetzaltepec volcano, which rises up from the western side of country’s capital city. Participants will eat breakfast and discuss future community projects in the stunning shadow of the volcano. Read More...

First in line for Portuguese citizenship: Jewish dreamers and fortune seekers

Congregants praying at the Kadoorie Synagogue in Porto, Portugal, May 2014. (Photo: Jewish community of Porto)JTA reports on the 2013 Portuguese law granting citizenship to the descendants of Sephardim, Jews who once lived in the Iberian Peninsula. The article profiles a woman who claims to be a descendent of Joseph Karo, the 16th century Spanish rabbi who authored one of the principal codifications of Jewish law, as well as the Portuguese politician who co-authored the law. Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund is quoted as well. Read More...

Michael Freund on Pesach in India – Israel Radio interview

Hearts of the Fathers: Mishpacha Magazine covers Shavei work in Poland

Model Seder held for Bnei Menashe in Manipur

New booklet published for Subbotnik Jews just in time for Pesach

This Year in Kaifeng