26 April 2007

Bringing home the lost

Michael Freund is chair of Shavei Israel, which assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people.

Here he addresses Israeli demographics and a solution.

THE FACT is that there is a vast, and largely untapped, reservoir of people clamoring to join, or rejoin, the nation of Israel.

From Poland to Peru, and in places as far afield as Russia, China, Portugal, Spain and Brazil, an extraordinary awakening of momentous proportions is taking place, as various communities with a historical connection to the Jewish people now seek out their roots and long to return to our people.

In many instances, these people's ancestors were torn away from us against their will, as a result of the oppression and persecution that hounded the Jewish people throughout the centuries of exile.

And now, these communities are all knocking on our collective door, pleading to be allowed back in, whether through conversion or return.

He addresses the Bnei Menashe of India; the Bnai Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America; hidden Polish children; 20,000 Subbotnik Jews who converted 200 years ago; "Jews of the jungle" in Peru's Amazon basin and their Moroccan ancestors; Kaifeng, China.

Although aimed at increasing aliyah to Israel, there is no doubt that for genealogists, the thought that descendants of our ancestors may be out there - somewhere - is inspiring.

Ends Freund:

It demonstrates the power not only of Jewish memory, but of Jewish destiny as well.

And it underlines the fact that no matter how far a Jewish soul may wander, even to the farthest corners of the world, it can - and ultimately will - find its way back home.

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