How Tulsa, Oklahoma connected with the Bnei Menashe
Just over a year ago, most people in Tulsa had not heard of the Bnei Menashe… and the Bnei Menashe had not heard of Tulsa. Now that’s changed. In fact, the Jewish community of Tulsa, Oklahoma made the new year a little brighter for some of the Bnei Menashe in Israel.
Tulsa’s Jewish Federation donated 81 gift cards to welcome the latest group of 162 Bnei Menashe that Shavei brought on Aliyah to Israel from India in November. The gift cards will enable the arrivals to purchase food and other essentials.
It started in December 2016, when Shavei Israel Director of Marketing Laura Ben-David visited Tulsa and spoke to an audience at the Jewish Community Center in Tulsa about Shavei’s work with the Bnei Menashe.
“Our community members were fascinated and deeply moved by Laura Ben-David’s talk when she visited Tulsa. We wanted to stay connected and be a part of the amazing work being done by Shavei Israel, finding lost Jews around the world and bringing them home to Israel. An important part of our mission is to strengthen our connection to Israel, especially through Tulsa’s sister city, Tiberias,” said Jewish Federation of Tulsa Deputy Director of Marketing Heather Lewin. “What better way than to help the latest group of Bnei Menashe to settle there? We are so pleased to be even a small part of this effort and we wish the new olim the very best in their new home.”
The group of 162 new immigrants hail from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur which is home to the largest concentration of Bnei Menashe in India. Since their arrival, the immigrants have been living at Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, Israel, and they all plan to move next month to Tiberias, Tulsa’s sister city through participation in Sister Cities International.
“We are grateful to the Tulsa Jewish Federation for their generosity in assisting the Bnei Menashe who immigrated to Israel from India,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “It is heartwarming to see how Tulsa’s Jews have extended a helping hand to the Bnei Menashe to ease their absorption into Israeli society and we are grateful for their support.”
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that the Bnei Menashe integrate smoothly and feel at home as they build their new lives in the Jewish state,” said Ben-David, “Tulsa is a city with a lot of heart and we hope to continue partnering with them in welcoming more Bnei Menashe to Israel”.
Here are some of the happy faces of the olim hadashim (new immigrants).
Some of the Bnei Menashe were so delighted with the gift cards, they broke out into song!
We also have this special message for our friends in Tulsa from three of the younger members of the community.