Shavei Israel brings Polish Jews to Israel for Purim trip.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fifteen Poles, who just recently uncovered their Jewish heritage, landed in Israel on Tuesday on a trip organized by Shavei Israel that will allow them to connect with their roots.
The group's arrival to Israel came at the time of the Purim festivities, a coincidence that Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund said possesses particular relevance.
"Purim revolves around the heroism of the biblical Queen Esther, who was forced to conceal her Jewish identity for many years before proudly reasserting it," he said.
"What better way for the young Hidden Jews of Poland to connect with their Jewish heritage than to experience Israel during this spiritually joyous and lively time," Freund added.
The trip will be led by Rabbi Yitzhak Rapoport, the former Israeli emissary to Poland and will include visits to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the northern part of the country.
Shavei Israel has worked since 1997 to facilitate a connection between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel as well as aiding in the process of making aliya.
Freund, an American-born Orthodox Jew who lives in Israel, conceived of the organization when he came upon a letter in 1996 from one of the leaders of the Bnei Menashe community, a group of Jews from eastern India, saying they had written to every prime minister since the inception of the State of Israel, asking to come home.
Since, Shavei Israel has invested millions of dollars in strengthening the Jewish education and the eventual aliya of this remote Indian community.
In addition to its work in India, Shavei Israel has opened and operates centers all over the world, including El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Sicily, China and Russia.
Freund’s goal is to find all those who descended from generations that suffered under the Inquisition and forced conversions, to bring them back into the fold and welcome them to Israel.