16 February 2012 - 23 Shevat 5772 - כ"ג שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ב
China's Kaifeng descendants make aliyah to israel E-mail

By Staff writers and agencies

For the first time, a group of seven young adults, descendants of the Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, has moved to Israel.

The group arrived in October this year in an effort launched by Shavei Israel. This is a non-profit organisation founded by Michael Freund, who himself immigrated to Israel from the United States with the aim of strengthening ties between the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world.

The organisation is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnai Menashe of India, the Bnai Anousim in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the “Hidden Jews” of Poland from the Holocaust era and others.

Shavei Israel received special permission from Israel’s Interior Ministry to bring them home after negotiating with the government for the past two years.

The Interior Ministry agreed to issue one-year entry permits to the seven young adults, during which time they will study Hebrew at a kibbutz Ulpan and then undergo conversion to Judaism.

“I am very excited to be here in the Holy Land,” said Yaakov Wang, 23, one of the new immigrants said on his arrival, “This is something that my ancestors dreamed about for generations, and now thank God I have finally made it.” Wang added that he eventually hopes to become a rabbi, so that one day he can help other Kaifeng Jewish descendants to learn more about their heritage.

“This is a historic event,” said Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund, who greeted the seven immigrants at Ben Gurion airport.

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