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The Lost Tribe of Brooklyn

By Tzvi Fishman
9/5/2011, 6:09 PM

With the destruction of the Second Temple and our long exile from our Land, the Jews were dispersed all over the world. In the great trauma and geographical upheaval, the tribes of Israel became scattered and lost. Over the past hundred years, we have witnessed an incredible ingathering of Jews to Israel from the four corners of the globe, just as Hashem promised our Forefathers and Prophets. Even the “lost tribe” of Jews in Ethiopia were miraculously rescued and brought home to Israel. Now, some 7500 people residing in north east India, descendents of the tribe of Menashe, are returning home to Israel later this year. Similarly, in our time we have witnessed the mass ingathering of the “lost” Jews of the former Soviet Union, who were lost because of compulsion and persecution under the anti-Semitic Soviet regime, which stripped them of their Jewish identity by force.

There is still another lost tribe to save – the lost of tribe of Brooklyn. This tribe is lost, not because of geographic uncertainty – we know where they are. Nor are they lost because of compulsion – they are free to practice Judaism as they please. They are lost due to a profound confusion of the meaning of Judaism. Over the nearly 2000 years of exile, their understanding of the Torah became distorted. Not living in the Land of Israel, and unable to be a sovereign Jewish nation on their own, with their own government, army, judicial system, and the like, they came to believe that Judaism was the practice of the handful of ritual commandments a Jew could still do outside the Land, like putting on tefillin, keeping kosher, and observing Shabbat. They forgot that Judaism is much more than the practice of individual mitzvot. During the long exile, they lost the understanding that Judaism is the national constitution of the Nation of Israel in Eretz Yisrael, and that the whole goal of the Torah and our prayers for Redemption is building the Jewish Nation in the Land that G-d Chose for His People, something which became possible once again with the establishment of Medinat Yisrael.

It is our job to rescue these lost Jews and to bring them home to Israel. A great program of education is needed, and new communities in Israel must be built to house them when they arrive. The government of Israel must wake up to this challenge and new frontier. “Operation Brooklyn.” This year - before it becomes too late.