Indian Jews join Israeli military

By Dan Lavie/Special to The Santiago Times

TEL AVIV – Pvt. Baruch Chayim Gangte and Pvt. Yotam Singson are part of a group of 12 members of India’s Bnei Menashe Jewish community who immigrated to Israel in 2014 and recently enlisted in the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces.

The new recruits’ immigration was organized by the Shavei Israel group, headed by Michael Freund, which helps Bnei Menashe Jews immigrate to Israel.

Gangte said, “As a Jew, I felt a strong need to make aliyah to Israel and fulfill my role in protecting my homeland as part of the Israel Defense Forces.”

Singson added, “I love being in the army. All of my friends with whom I made aliyah (immigration to Israel) are with me in the same platoon. We are all dealing with the same challenges and going through this new period in our lives together, knowing that we are doing something significant and meaningful.

“As the days go by, my friends and I are getting to be more and more familiar with Israeli culture and the Hebrew language, which helps us to successfully integrate into Israeli society. There is no doubt that army service is a huge milestone for us in this process,” Singson said.

Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, said, “Thus far, Shavei Israel has been blessed to bring more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India, and I truly hope that in the near future the new Israeli government will allow us to bring the rest of the community on aliyah, as well.”–ISRAEL HAYOM