[Field Report] The Aliyah movement, abandoning Jesus and converting people to Judaism… “pouring cold water” to missionary works
▲ “Shavei Israel” to help Christians convert to Judaism and immigrate to Israel. Picture: Provided by Jungha Won

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Visiting the stie of the “Aliyah Ministry” in the Indian Jewish Repatriation Operation (5, the final episode)

In Manipur, India, descendants of the Kuki tribe, who belong to the tribe of Manasseh, who inhabited the northern kingdom, and who are believed to be “B’nai Meneses,” reside in Manipur, India. Some Korean churches are putting a considerable amount of financial and effort into the “Aliyah Ministry” to help them return to their homeland according to the words of the Bible. We listened to the reaction of location Christians about them. <Editor>

Shavei Israel Hebrew Centre Visit

After visiting Soomchinboom sect of the Kuki tribe, and after the Sunday worship at the Kuki Baptist Convention Centre Church where we had the interview the other day, we went to a synagogue 2 to 3 minutes away on foot.

In fact, the purpose of this interview was not to meet Kuki Jews, but to meet Christians. Thus, I just wanted to take a picture if I could go in. It was also because I was worried that if I asked for a formal interview to the Jews inside, there might be a disadvantage. Therefore, I tried my best not to take picture of people there.

▲ The person with a light blue T-shirt was an Indian Jewish woman who obtained Israeli citizenship. Picture: by Jungha Won

A person who opened the synagogue door was a woman who had already received Israeli citizenship and had visited her hometown for a while. She explained everything that she knew to us, but all the other women who live there just smoked cigarettes and stared at us. Their expression seemed to say, ‘There were a lot of foreigners like you.’

The women were all wearing some kind of turban. In fact, turbans were not worn by everyone in Israel, but Manipur Jewish women always wore them as a kind of uniform. The men were all wearing kappa (Jewish traditional hats), but since they had black kappa pinned to their black hair, it was hard to tell if they were wearing a hat unless you looked closely.

Inside was very small. On the first floor, the family of those called “Dabai (?)” who are synagogue managers (synagogue deacons) lived. And in one corner, there was a “room where menstruating women are isolated.”

▲ The room where menstruating women are isolated. Picture: by Jungha Won

On the second floor, there was a synagogue that barely fit 50 to 100 people. The stairs leading to it were divided into two, one side for women and the other side for men.

The inside of the synagogue was divided into a place similar to the Holy of Holies where the Torah is installed, the central altar reading the Torah and a place where women can only hear voices through the curtains.

▲ A wall facing Jerusalem, containing the Torah (the Pentateuch). Picture: by Jungha Won
▲ The front part is the men’s worship room, and behind the curtains is the women’s worship room. Picture: by Jungha Won

Their attire and the synagogue structure were very conservative. I’ve been to Israel, but even in Israel, there were less people who wore kappa or women’s head coverings.

I asked if there was a rabbi only for women, but I heard that a woman cannot be a rabbi and men’s work and women’s work are separated. I told them I had been to Israel and that there were female rabbis among the reformists, but they said flatly “We are not that kind of people.”

Adhered to the outer wall of the building were some stone tables, which were the Hebrew calendar with years over 5000 years old.

Brother Jerry, Dave and missionary Chao asked what the year represented, or what the structure of that synagogue meant. However, the woman guiding us couldn’t answer at all. When I told them about that the curtain similar to the Holy of Holies of the synagogue (where the Torah is kept) is in the direction of Jerusalem and that the Hebrew calendar originates from the year Moses and the people celebrated the first Passover, she was surprised.  As I talked, there were many things that the people there did not know about Jewish tradition.

I asked if there was a rabbi. She said that a rabbi from Israel only comes once in a while. I also asked if there were any Manipur Jews who became rabbis, and she said there are five or six with their names, but they all seemed to live in Israel.  As a result, at that time, there seemed to be no synagogue with a rabbi in Manipur. Even though I heard that in Mizoram, there are synagogues for the Mizo or Chin tribes, the exact situation is unknown.

It seemed that there is no point in talking to them any longer. I got a lot of information from the previous interview, and there wasn’t much to hear from these people. Further, it occurred to us that those who spoke with us might suffer great harm from the Israeli government or the Manipur Jewish community when the contents of the interview were made public, and thus I stopped the conversation. We came in and out the synagogue as if we were one of usual foreign Christian tourists.

I only took a picture of the back of one person. Since the person in the picture has been an Israeli citizen for a long time and there was not much information given to us, I thought that there would be no major damage to her.

Ending the research trip

This episode is the final episode of the Manipur ㅡ Churachandpur reporting trip. Lastly, there are things I want to deliver to those who are interested in the “Aliyah movement.”

The oldest and largest synagogue in Manipur, and possibly the only functioning synagogue here, “Shavei Israel Hebrew Centre” was built in 1976.

▲ The oldest church in Manipur, built in 1901. Picture: by Jungha Won

However, the oldest church in Manipur was built in 1901, and the Kuki people who began to speak of their Jewish identity in the 1950s, also established churches since 1914.

If they were real Jews, synagogues must have been built hundreds of years before churches.  In fact, there are not a few such old synagogues in western and southern India, including Mumbai, where I minister, as well as Pune and Cochin.

However, the Jews of Manipur are 100% converts from a Christian background. Therefore, sending these Jews to Israel is scientifically (please refer the DNA test) inappropriate, anthropologically (intra-tribal Jewish tradition, etc.) inappropriate and most of all for the missionary purpose inappropriate.

From 2020 to 2021, there was a serious Covid-19 catastrophe in India. This was the world’s second largest Covid-19 infected area, and bodies in black bags were piled up in every national hospital. In the meantime, my fellow missionaries from six cities in India visited Red Zones (infected areas) every day. We shared food, masks, medicined and soap along with evangelistic-purpose comic booklets.  Our Mumbai team alone knocked on the doors of 37,500 slums over 11 months and risked their lives to minister. The figure is presumed to be relatively accurate, given the number of orders for the relief package. In the end, our team’s leader, Pastor Suraj Bangera, even died of Covid-19 infection.

However, in that same year, when I found out that more money was spent converting the Christians of Manipur to Judaism than all the finances from Korea combined for the emergency relief work of the six city mission teams (Mumbai, Deli, Pune, Senapati, Bangalore and Chennai), I was absolutely devastated. If anyone had spent only 3 million won(₩), or less than 1% of the budget exceeding 300 million won(₩), on a field trip, the valuable offering could have been saved.

They may say that they have not been able to come because they were afraid of Covid-19, but even at that time, there were missionaries who risked their lives to work in India by any means. If you are a servant of Christ, you must have that level of determination and the guts to execute the offerings of the saints. I also invested more than 1 million won(₩) and 7 days this time in order to prevent many beloved Christians in India from converting to Judaism due to the fault of the Korean churches.

▲ In the Manipur Christian History Museum. Picture: by Jungha Won

Perhaps even among the Sunday Christians in Korea, if the Sunday Christians were invited to convert to Catholicism, etc., with the US citizenship and settlement support funds, as well as settlement training, there will be many Sunday Christians in Korea who will be tempted. South Koreans should be aware of this. The difference in life between Israel and third world countries such as Manipur of India, Ethiopia, and Ukraine (especially a country at war) is indescribable. Perhaps that is why, most of those who went to Israel through the Aliyah movement are third world people.

Weren’t there Christians from Eastern Europe, Orthodox from Tewahido, Ethiopia and Orthodox from Ukraine who turned to Judaism to become the target of “Aliyah” because of their low faith, due to the Aliyah movement of Korean believers? We are talking about those with little or no Jewish blood. Weren’t there any families split because of the Aliyah movement?

In Manipur, that certainly happed, apparently the money of the Korean believers was spent converting Christians to Judaism. Are there institutional arrangements to ensure that this (a movement such as the Aliyah movement) does not happen in the future?

Even if someone sent 10,000 Jews to Israel through the Aliyah movement, if that led a single person deserting Jesus and converting to Judaism, I don’t see the movement as appropriate. Those who participated in the Aliyah movement must tear their clothes and feel contrition, and sincerely apologize to local pastors and missionaries, as well as to families that have been divided between Judaism and Christianity (I, who had nothing to do with the Aliyah movement, also had to apologize everywhere I went). Even then, it will cost much less effort and money than practicing “Aliyah.”

“Spiritual simulation” is not equal to “grace.”  And creating a heart-throbbing romantic issue and paying for it is not missionary work. The cross is blood red, not pink. We are to be simple servants of God’s bidding, not great men who fulfill prophecies in God’s strategic meetings.

Sharing Jesus with non-believers, teaching the words in the Bible to those who already believe and extending unconditional love to the poor. Our life time is not long enough to do those things.  I hope you no longer be seduced by provocative subjects, but join us on the path of simple and holy missionary works. <The End> [Gospel Prayer News]

Jungha Won | Indian local correspondent

Related article
[Field Report] Are there Jews of the tribe of Manasseh in India?
[Field Report] There are no churches or mission agencies that preach the gospel to Jews in India
[Field Report] Poor Christians are converting to Judaism to survive
[Field Report] How should we see the Korean churches’ operation to repatriate Jews

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