Miri Regev Sends Holiday Greetings
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
(October 1) In a video released on the eve of the Sukkot holiday, Minister of Transportation Miri Regev greeted the B’nei Menashe community with her wishes for a good year. Expressing her regrets at not being able to meet with it as she has done in the past because of the Corona crisis, she stated her hopes that she would soon be able to do so again. Click below to view video.
Regev, a ranking figure in the Likud Party who until the last elections served as Israel’s Minister of Culture, has been the one cabinet official to reach out openly to the B’nei Menashe and seek personal contact with them. Her relationship with them, so our Newsletter was told by Jessica Thangjom, the wife of Degel Menashe project manager Yitzhak Thangjom, began two years ago. At the time, Benny Binyamin, a member of Israel’s formerly Indian Bene Israel community, was running as a Likud candidate in municipal council elections in Ramla, a town near Tel Aviv. The Likud’s mayoralty candidate, Michael Vidal, happened to be a brother-in-law of Yossi Dahan, an El Al executive and friend of Regev’s. Binyamin introduced Dahan to the Thangjoms and his wife Jessica, who live in Ramla too and they explained to him over coffee who the B’nei Menashe were and what were some of the problems they were facing.
“You need to get to know Miri Regev,” Dahan told the Thangjoms, promising to see to it that they would. Three months passed with no word and they assumed he had forgotten his promise. Then, in February 2019, the telephone rang with an invitation to meet with Regev in her office. “She asked us about the B’nei Menashe and was fascinated by our story,” Jessica Thangjom told our Newsletter. “We were impressed by her warmth and genuine interest. A planned 15-minute meeting turned into an hour, at the end of which she said we must meet again.”
This marked the start of Regev’s involvement with the B’nei Menashe, which she has kept up since then. In August 2019 she appeared before a B’nei Menashe gathering in Kiryat Arba at which, noting that the community’s relatively small numbers gave it no political influence, she stated her determination to be its voice. In December 2019, she met with a group of Degel Menashe’s board members to discuss the community, and in January 2020 she publicly declared the Ministry of Culture’s support for the establishment of a B’nei Menashe Heritage Center.
Now that she has left the Ministry of Culture, Regev’s ability to work toward implementing this declaration is limited – nor, as Minister of Transportation, is there much her office can do on behalf of the B’nei Menashe. Yet her support continues to be heartening and will no doubt prove to be of value in the future. Translated into English, the words of her holiday greeting are:
“Dear friends in the B’nei Menashe community,
“I wish you all a good year in which you are sealed in the Book of Life.
“I regret that we cannot meet at this time because of the Corona crisis, which obliges us to maintain our distance from each other. With God’s help, we will overcome this time, too. We are Jews of faith descended from ancestors of faith. We will yet meet again to laugh and talk about all kinds of things.
"In the meantime, I would like to wish you and your families a happy holiday and a happy new year.”