Bnei Menashe celebrate first Hanukkah in Israel

Members of 'lost tribe' who made aliyah just this past summer celebrate their first ever Hanukkah in the holy land.

Ari Soffer ,

Bnei Menashe celebrate Hanukkah in Israel
Bnei Menashe celebrate Hanukkah in Israel
Shavei Israel

A Hanukkah celebration in honor of new olim (immigrants) from the Bnei Menashe community was held today in Jerusalem.

The latest group of Bnei Menashe arrived in Israel during the summer, thanks to the Shavei Israel organization, and were palpably excited to be celebrating their first Hanukkah in the holy land.

The celebration was held by OU Israel, and attended among others by Rabbi Avi Berman, executive director of the OU Israel, and Rebecca Segal, director of OU Israel Center programs.

The party featured a band of Bnei Menashe from Tiberias, who played a mixture of Hebrew Hanukkah songs and traditional Bnei Menashe songs.

Singing Hanukkah songs:

Traditional Bnei Menashe songs:

The Bnei Menashe (sons of Manasseh) claim descent from one of the ten lost tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

Shavei Israel is an organization that aims to track the lost Jewish communities around the world return back to  the Jewish people. The organization is active in the Bnei Manasseh community in India, helping them to immigrate to Israel and accompanying them during the beginning of their life in Israel to help them integrate into Israeli society.

Today, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe live in Israel, mainly in Judea, Samaria and the Galilee. The remaining 7,000 Bnei Menashe reside in India – primarily in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur, which border Burma.

Shavei Israel aims to bring them all home to Israel in the coming years.