As is customary in so many workplaces in Israel, the staff at Shavei Israel had a beautiful ‘haramat kosit’ – literally a ‘raising the glass’ to toast the New Year. As we reflected on the many challenges and accomplishments of the...20 September, 2021
Ma’ani Israel Communities Heritage Center
Shavei Israel has a clear goal of bringing together the descendants of Israel, their ancestral heritage and Zionism, and is working tirelessly to help remote communities around the globe. From Anousim in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Latin America; to hidden Jews in Poland; to Subbotnik Jews of Russia, Kaifeng Jews in China, Bnei Menashe in India, and more, we reach out to help reconnect them.
The Ma’ani Center was opened with the with the guidance, encouragement and support of Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sports, with the aim of developing the heritage and culture of the various communities.
The center is located in Jerusalem on Am and Olamu Street 3, next to Shavei Israel’s offices.
The center hosts lectures, exhibitions, cultural events, collection and has a rich archive of documents, photos and music. Shavei staff frequently provide lectures to schools and other groups, both in person or via zoom as circumstances dictate.
The lectures are two-pronged: both about Jewish-Israel culture and traditions to the diverse communities we service, many of whom are themselves converts, plus teaching about the traditions of these same diverse communities to Israelis.
The organization also organizes mobile exhibitions in different local authorities explaining the culture of specific lost or hidden communities.
It is, in fact, the only organization that deals with the conservation of heritage and traditions for lost and hidden Jews. Preserving the unique history of each community and cultivating the religious characteristics of the communities such as: language, culture, dress, poetry, customs, holidays, cooking or special events common in each community. In addition to lectures, seminars and cultural events, Ma’ani Center collects and coordinates the archiving of community documents, unique pictures from Israel and abroad, traditional clothing, music, writings, and objects that characterize the communities in their countries of origin, as well as the development of permanent and mobile exhibitions of some of the communities.
The center supports the unique traditions of the individual communities while simultaneously ensuring the facilitation of their shared Jewish heritage. It is, in fact, the only organization dedicated to the heritage of Israeli communities, preserving the history of each and cultivating their unique ethnic characteristics such as language, culture, clothing, poetry and holidays.
Shavei Israel is made up of different departments that work with each community; there is no single department that deals with culture/tradition because it encompasses all of the departments of Shavei Israel.
In each department, there are professionals and representatives from every community who deliver the lectures, exhibitions, document archive concentration and subject activity both abroad and in the country. The staff involved in these activities are highly professional and are especially suited to work with different communities. Its role is, among other things, to raise public awareness of the uniqueness of each community, to organize cultural events that include traditional singing and dancing, to give a variety of lectures on the subjects, and to instill in the communities the heritage of the Jewish people. The staff members give lectures at the Ma’ani Center to various groups from Israel and around the world, such as employees in local authorities, students, retirees, adoptive families of immigrants, Bnei Akiva groups, OU Center groups and various tourist groups. They also give weekly lessons to the different communities about Jewish holidays, and the traditions of the Jewish people.
The organization added to its goals: “We will hold a regular heritage activity of one or more of Israel’s communities within the framework of the Ma’ani Center.” Adding this to the goals of the organization emphasizes the deep importance of the subject.
A Facebook group, “Moreshet Bnei Menashe” was recently launched for the purpose of uploading historical images and documents and current images as well and that the entire community in Israel and abroad will be a part of this group.
We also issue flyers, a weekly bulletin in the languages of Mizo and Kuki, and even publish books and research related to these communities in order to nurture and strengthen their individual and community culture.