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B’nei Menashe Take Part in Dinner Hosted By Indian Ambassador

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

(December 15, 2022) At a dinner hosted last week in his official residence in Herzliya by India’s ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singhla, some 20 young Israelis of Indian descent met for an evening of celebrating Indian-Israeli ties. The dinner was held as part of a worldwide Indian government program aimed at connecting Indian diasporas in different countries to the land from which their parents, grandparents, or more distant ancestors emigrated. Among the Israeli youngsters taking part in the event were three members of the B’nei Menashe community: Avi Hangshing, Yosef Naite, and Levana Changloi.

In his remarks to his guests, our Newsletter was told by Avi Hangshing, Ambassador Singhla stressed the importance for the identity of young people everywhere to stay in touch with the country of their or their forbearers’ origin. “It was fascinating for me,” Hangshing said, “because while I’ve always been interested in history, I never knew anything about the historical ties between India and Israel – such as the fact, for example, that Indian soldiers fighting with the British army played a key role in the World War I battle for Haifa, from which they helped drive the Turkish army.”

Asked by us whether he still felt a connection to India, from which he came with his family to Israel in his high-school years, Hangshing, a security trainer and competitive marksman, replied: “You can leave the place you were born in and spent your childhood in, but it never leaves you. There are moments -- a song that reminds you of something, a taste that brings back memories – that make everything come back to you. Israel is my home, but India will always be a special place for me. It makes me happy to see the two countries enjoying such a good relationship. I was honored to participate.”

Yosef Naite gives the ambassador a Hanukkah menorah.

Yosef Naite, a woodworker from Kiryat Arba who presented Ambassador Singhla with a Hanukkah menorah made in his workshop was impressed by the solidarity of the young Israelis at the event. “I never realized,” he said,, “how tightly-knot and mutually supportive the Indian Jewish community in Israel is. It made me feel that I’m part of something beyond just the immediate environment in which I live.” Naite, whose family settled in Israel when he was a small child, has always been proud to be part of the B’nei Menashe community. “Now,” he says. “I feel proud to be part of the Indian Jewish community, too.”

Levana Chongloi, a computer engineer who came to Israel at the age of 23, feels the event at Ambassador Singhla’s reconnected her to roots she had pushed to the back of her mind. “The evening made me feel nostalgic,” she says. “Although I knew almost no one there at the beginning, I had amazing conversations with many young people who have an Indian side to them just as I do. Talking to them and getting to know them was a kind of homecoming for me. It gave me a sense of community and belonging, and that’s something we always long for and seek.”

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