Rabbi Michael Freund
What is the main focus of your activities today?
Seeking out the lost tribes of Israel and other hidden Jewish communities and helping them to return to Zion in accordance with Biblical prophecy
How long have you been doing that?
Over 20 years
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
With G-d’s help, Shavei Israel has brought more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe on Aliya from India, as well as several thousand others including Bnei Anousim from Iberia and South America, Chinese Jews from Kaifeng, China, Subbotnik Jews from the former Soviet Union and Hidden Jews of the Holocaust from Poland. This is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, the Ingathering of the Exiles from the four corners of the earth.
How did you get to where you are today?
There’s an old Yiddish expression: “man plans and G-d laughs”. After making Aliya in 1995, I went to work for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his first term of office as Deputy Communications Director. In the spring of 1997, a small, crumpled orange envelope arrived addressed to the premier. It contained a letter from the leaders of the Bnei Menashe community in India, whom I had never heard of before, asking to be allowed to return to Zion after 2700 years of exile. I answered the letter and then arranged for large numbers to start making Aliya. That set me off on my journey to find and restore lost Jews to our people and our Land. It certainly wasn’t what my nice Jewish mother had in mind for me when I went to Princeton and then got an MBA at Columbia. Nor was it what I had expected to do with my life. But as I said at the beginning, man may plan as much as he wishes but it is G-d’s will that always prevails.
What is your “testimony”?
I grew up in New York in a very Jewish bubble. My first social interaction with non-Jews was only in college. Like many Ashkenazi Jews, I had an instinctive fear of Christians because of what happened to my family and my people during the Holocaust. But after moving to Israel and becoming involved with bringing back the Lost Tribes, I quickly saw how enthusiastic and supportive Christians were for Aliya. Initially, I didn’t understand why. But then I came across a verse that opened my eyes: Isaiah 49:22, where G-d says that the nations of the world will carry our sons and daughters back to the Land. This verse is both descriptive and prescriptive and suddenly I realized that there is a Biblical mandate for Christians and Jews to partner together in the restoration of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland. As I got to know more Christians, I saw the sincerity and devotion with which they dedicated themselves to helping Israel. I also began to write about this topic in my weekly column in the Jerusalem Post in the early 2000s, when I was among the first to call upon Jews and Christians to work together. Since then, I have come to view Christians as friends, comrades and brothers in the cause to strengthen Israel and defend her. And I pray this newfound relationship will continue to grow and prosper until the Redemption.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
We are living in a very special time when Jews and Christians are standing together and partnering with one another to fulfill the Divine plan. This is something that would have been unthinkable even 50 or 100 years ago. After 19 centuries in which the Church perpetrated horrific acts upon the Jewish people, the Lord had touched a growing number of Christians who are proudly and openly expressing their love and support for the Jewish state. And it is a worldwide phenomenon! There is no rational explanation for this phenomenon other than the miraculous. The wounds of past centuries are being healed through acts of kindness, prayer and solidarity.