Monday, September 1, 2008

From the Farthest Reaches

"Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries." (Ezek. 6:8)

"If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back."
(Deut. 30:4)

"I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth" (Isa. 43:6)

In our times we are literally witnessing the reversal of Jewish exile and the fulfillment of the promises of ingathering. In the past century, especially in the last 60 years, Jewish communities from Russia and Poland, Morocco and Iran and even as far flung as Ethiopia, have been gathered in the Land of Israel. Communities that were scattered over 2000 years ago with the destruction of the Holy Temple have made their homes once more in Israel. Close to half of the world's Jews live in Israel.

In the ancient city of Kaifeng in China, once home to a thriving Jewish community, close to 1000 Jews have begun to reconnect with their heritage, learn about their traditions and reclaim their Jewish roots. Several have made aliyah and more are considering going so. Their history (which can be found here) is a long one of exile and dispersion from Israel to finding a new home and thriving in China, until assimilation finally took its dreadful toll. HaShem has awakened the hearts of this historic and once-proud community to return to their origins and make their way home.

Since the summer of 2005, over 700 Jews from Brazil have made aliyah, many choosing to reside in Beer Shevah. But how did they come to be in the Amazonas? And what's Morocco have to do with it? Well, as the story goes, about 150 year ago, when the world's rubber industry was starting to develop, several Moroccan Jews – rubber tradesmen – arrived in South America.

They made their way up the Amazonas River, from Brazil to Peru, where they were able to cultivate rubber trees – or as they are called - Hevea Brasiliensis – the ParĂ¡ rubber tree.

In those days, foreigners found it difficult to travel safely though the jungles and the native Indians were their guides. The Jewish merchants had no wives, and ended up marrying the local Indian women.
Only recently have many undergone halachic conversions in an attempt to return to the Jewish people. There is a growing movement among bnei anousim (known derisively as 'marranos'), Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition but kept Judaism in secret, to learn about their roots. Hundreds have attended conventions for bnei anousim and even made aliyah. A tour of 16 bnei anousim from Spain, Portugal and Italy recently finished touring Israel. Around the world, descendants of those who were forced to abandon their faith are reclaiming and embracing their Jewish heritage.

In a landmark decision, PM Olmert has given permission for all 7 232 Bnei Menashe Jews living in Northern India to make aliyah. The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the Tribe of Menashe who made their way to India following the exile of the Ten Tribes by the Assyrians. They preserved many Jewish customs and traditions. In the past two centuries, they were converted to Christianity by missionaries because they recognized elements of their ancestral religion in the new faith. However, in the past few decades, they have embraced their Judaism. Several hundreds will make aliyah every month.

HaShem is gathering His beloved children from the farthest reaches of the Earth. In anticipation of the coming of the Moshiach, Jews are returning to the Land of Israel from every corner of the world. Those who had their heritage ripped from them by missionaries and assimilation or persecution and torture have taken back what was stolen from them. They have triumphed over their oppressors and adversaries and proudly declare that they are Jews.

Blow the great shofar for our freedom and raise a banner to gather our exiled. Gather us together from the four corners of the Earth. Blessed are You, HaShem, who gathers the dispersed of His people Israel." Amen! May we be in-gathered from our exile speedily in our days.

Cross-posted to Jewish Vengeance

1 comment:

WomanHonorThyself said...

keep spreading the Ohr Torah..youre a blessing!