Cultural fabric: A Bnei Menashe Tradition

Cultural fabric: A Bnei Menashe Tradition

Emuna and Shimrit are both Bnei Menashe young women who made aliyah to Israel at the same time, June 2014, from Churachandpour, in Manipur, in northeast India. Knowing this, and seeing them together wearing skirts of the identical traditional family fabric, you would think that they were certainly cousins and must know each other from way back. In fact, Emuna and Shimrit met each other for the first time in Israel. Shortly after their aliyah, they were together in Shavei’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim near Haifa and only then did they discover that they are of the same ‘family’.

The Bnei Menashe, while they dress in typical western fashion, also have numerous articles of their own design and making, particularly fabrics that they make skirts, vests and other garments out of, each pattern symbolic to a different family or ‘tribe’. There are reportedly more than 50 such fabrics!

Shimrit and Emuna [Laura Ben-David/Shavei Israel]
Emuna and Shimrit with Shira, another Bnei Menashe young woman in Acco with a different background, wearing her own family’s traditional fabric skirt. [Laura Ben-David/Shavei Israel]
Shavei’s Laura Ben-David taking selfies with Emuna and Shimrit. [Laura Ben-David/Shavei Israel]
[Laura Ben-David/Shavei Israel]