More than 550 members of the Bnei Menashe community from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur participated in a massive pre-Passover “Model Seder” Tuesday night at the Shavei Israel Hebrew Center in Churachandpur to mark the upcoming holiday and learn about Passover practices and customs.
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2, 700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. Some 3, 000 Bnei Menashe have thus far made Aliyah thanks to Shavei Israel, and another 7, 000 are still in India waiting for the chance to move.
Shavei Israel Fellow J. Benyamin Haokip led the special Passover Seder and gave a shiur (lesson) on the various laws of the festival. Local community Chairman T.K. Avihu Singsit delivered a brief speech thanking Shavei Israel for organizing the event for the benefit of the Bnei Menashe community and expressed the hope that next year, the Bnei Menashe will be able to celebrate the holiday in Jerusalem.
“Passover symbolizes the Jewish people’s deliverance, and the Seder embodies the deepest hopes of the Bnei Menashe community, which has been dreaming for so long to make Aliyah, ” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund.
“In the past two years, we have brought 1, 000 Bnei Menashe to Israel, ” Freund said. “We hope the remaining 7, 000 members of the community still in India will soon experience the same taste of freedom — next year in Jerusalem!”