Bnei Menashe Celebrate Israeli Independence in India
On April 24, more than 1,500 members of the Bnei Menashe community from across northeastern India gathered in the town of Churachandpur in the Indian state of Manipur to celebrate Israel’s 67th Independence Day. The special event, which was held at the B. Vengnom Community Hall, featured the theme “Next Year in Jerusalem,” and included prayers for the Jewish State and the Israel Defense Forces as well as the ceremonial raising of the Israeli flag. The Bnei Menashe participants sang the Israeli national anthem,
“Hatikvah” (“the Hope”) and read Psalm 126, which expresses their longing for Zion. They were led by Shavei Israel emissary Yehoshua Burril.
Shavei Israeli Founder and President Michael Freund said that the ceremony embodies the hopes of the Bnei Menashe to move to Israel. “The Bnei Menashe love and support the State of Israel, and yearn to make Aliya,” Freund said. “With profound optimism and hope they celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in Manipur, but we join them in praying that next year they will do so in Jerusalem!”
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 come home to Zion.
YU Students Celebrate Yom Haatzmaut
On April 23, Yeshiva University students celebrated Yom Haatzmaut with joyous dancing and uplifting programming. With a beautiful musical tribute by the Y-Studs and flag rising, the program celebrated the state of Israel’s 67th birthday. The day began with a Shacharit tefilla chagigit at 8 a.m. From there, men and women experienced respective Yom Iyun programs on the Wilf Campus. The Yom Iyun included a Seudat Hoda’ah, or meal of gratitude, as well as shiurim given in memory of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l. Following the Yom Iyun came the ever-so-popular Yom Ha’atzmaut BBQ. As busses from the Beren Campus pulled in, Yeshiva students flooded the Wilf Campus to continue their Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations. Due to the cold weather and wind, many students quickly took their burgers and hotdogs from the Tenzer Garden into Weissberg Commons where music blasted from the walls. There, they enjoyed perusing the student-produced Art Gallery, playing Pac-Man, and trying to squeeze together into a photo booth. Others made their way to the basketball courts where they battled their friends in a basketball shootout or bopped around in bumper cars. Perhaps the most popular location however, was the “Israeli Shuk,” a new feature at the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. Throughout the day, students could be seen eating the Shuk’s dried fruits, nuts, and candies, having a great time.
All in all, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut were tremendous successes. The programming was spearheaded by its Co-Chairs, Josh Nagel and Daniella Eisenman, as well as Office of Student Life Program Manager Tami Adelson. Also contributing to the programs were Yona Magence of SCWSC, Alexa Ratner of SYMSSC, Aitan Magence of YSU, Ben Kohane of YCSA, Natan Bienstock of SOY, and Yoni Pfeifer of SYMSSC.
“It is vital to show that Israel is something which is important to us,” explained Nagel. “On Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, we reaffirm that Israel is integral to our identity as an institution in the larger Jewish community. That’s why we come together to commemorate and celebrate.”