Bnei Menashe personal story: Rakhem Haokip
Rakhem Haokip, a young father of two, has been waiting his whole life to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel from his home in northeast India, something that every Bnei Menashe Jew longs for. Rakhem, along with his wife, Rivka, and their two children, Rakhel(2) and Shraga(5 months) had prayed for this moment, but, especially now, since Rakhem’s parents were among the group to make aliyah with Shavei Israel in December. Due to the emergency measure signed by Israel’s Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, Rakhem and his family will be reuniting with his parents in just a few weeks, and they couldn’t be more excited.
Rakhem says, “My parents have always been my inspiration in the path of Torah Judaism. My excitement about reuniting with them again is truly indescribable. I recall all those lessons my parents would give me not only by means of words but by living it themselves. One such ideal is that on Friday before Shabbat, I would go shopping along with my father. He would never be cheap with anything that is necessary for the merriment of Shabbat and its observance.”
Rakhem laments how, as India is a place of idolatry and it’s rituals, it is truly challenging to remain an observant Jew. A few of the commandments which are also the basic necessities of a Jew are almost beyond reach of observance. Some of them being kosher food, Shabbat, and others. People live quite far from the places of worship and it’s often quite difficult to get there without a vehicle. Not going, of course, makes a family feel distanced from Judaism and risk becoming assimilated among the non-Jews.
“Our sages teach us that our teacher Moses had a very big wish to enter the land of Israel; not to hang around the beaches but to observe the commandments which could be observed only in the land itself. How precious it is that I will get to merit going to the land where even Moses our teacher didn’t merit to enter. How precious it is to have the merit not only to enter but to do the mitzvot there in the Promised Land!”