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Shavei Israel (Hebrew: שבי ישראל‎, Israel returns) is an Israeli-based Jewish organization that locates "lost Jews" and assists them in returning (Hebrew "teshuva" תשובה) to Judaism. The organization, founded by Michael Freund, is a team of academics, educators and rabbinical figures.

Contents

Goals

Shavei Israel is known for its activities around the world in search for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, most notably for its work with the Bnei Menashe.

The group is also extensively involved with emerging communities in Spain, Portugal, South and Central America and Mexico, seeking people whose Sephardic ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions in those lands. The descendants of these forced converts were known as Marranos, they are also known as crypto-Jews if they maintained their Jewish faith in secrecy, or as Anusim if later generations eventually embraced Catholicism and lost all connection with their Jewish roots.

Shavei Israel also helps people whose Judaism was lost through cultural assimilation, to reconnect with or return to Judaism.

Shavei Israel insists that it is not a missionary organization, but simply a group trying to reconnect people to their Jewish roots.

Activities

Shavei Israel sponsors rabbis and teachers to work with various groups of "lost Jews" in places as far afield as India and the Iberian Peninsula. Shavei Israel rabbis are currently posted in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Oporto in northern Portugal, Brazil, and at the Shavei Israel Hebrew Centers in Mizoram and Manipur, North-East India.

It offers various educational options in Israel, including Machon Miriam, the only Spanish-language conversion and return institute in Jerusalem. Dozens of Spanish and Portuguese crypto-Jews graduate from Machon Miriam each year, and proceed to undergo formal conversion by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

It also helps people who have converted to Judaism make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) The organization has also published a series of books on Judaism in a dozen languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Mizo, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian and German. Plans are also underway to send rabbis to the remaining Subbotnik communities in Russia.[1]

Shavei Israel is largely responsible for the Israeli government's recognition of the Bnei Menashe as Jews in March 2005.

See also

References

  1. ^ Russian Runaround, an article from the Shavei Israel website

External links

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