Return from Exile to Wedding Canopy
“The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride”
Eleven couples from the Bnei Menashe tribe, who recently immigrated to Israel from India, were married at the Shavei Israel Absorption Center in Nordia, Sharon – for the first time in a Jewish ceremony under a canopy (chupah) according to the “religion of Moses and Israel,” after completing a Jewish conversion process.
The eleven couples are part of more than 250 Bnei Menashe immigrants who arrived in Israel a few months back, thanks to the activities of Shavei Israel and the Minister of Aliyah and Absorption, Pnina Temano Sheta. The eleven couples immigrated to Israel from the states of Mizoram and Manipur in India and intend to live in the city of Nof Hagalil (Upper Nazareth), in northern Israel.
“We wish the couples all the best and lots of joy, health and success in their new homes,” said Shavei Israel President Michael Freund. “After realizing their dream of immigrating to Israel and returning to the Jewish people, the eleven couples now have another reason to celebrate. Despite the epidemic, they remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony that symbolizes the new life they are building here in the Jewish state.”
The brides dressed in festive wedding gowns after getting their hair arranged and festive makeup. Everything was done with the approval and coordination of the Home Front Command and the Ministry of Health (COVID guidelines). Some of the grooms wore traditional Menashe outfits.
Among the couples who remarried were 72-year-old Maccabi Nemet and his wife, Sarah Hemata, 70, from the state of Mizoram, who have been happily married for 49 years. Their two children made aliyah in 2003, and they did not see them for 17 years until they immigrated to Israel two months ago.
“We are grateful to do this and very excited to finally join our children and grandchildren,” said Maccabi. “After 49 years, we are privileged to dress up and remarry, but this time we were married under a canopy here in the land of our ancestors, the Land of Israel.”
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the Tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian Empire. To date, about 4,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel thanks to the Shavei Israel organization. About 6,500 Bnei Menashe in India are still waiting for the opportunity to return home to Zion.
Jeremiah 33: 10 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Again there shall be heard in this place—of which you say, “It is desolate, without man and without beast”—in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, 11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride…”