Indians who claim Jewish heritage gather to celebrate Hanukkah

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Thousands of Indian citizens who claim to be Jews descended from the biblical tribe of Menashe gathered to celebrate Hanukkah, according to an organization that helps lost Jews reconnect to their religion.

Women from the community gathered Wednesday in the town of Churachandpur, in the northeastern state of Manipur, to make the holiday pastry sufganiyot, Shavei Israel said in a statement. The organization tries to find lost Jews throughout the world.

“The story of the Maccabees’ heroic determination to preserve their Jewish identity resonates very strongly with the Bnei Menashe, who, with tremendous effort, have still managed to cling to their faith and that of their ancestors through the centuries,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “Even in far-off India, the flame of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly.”

Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in recent years, with another 7,000 remaining in India.

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