by: Itamar Eichner
Tuesday, 22 September 2020 | An Indian–Jewish MMA [mixed martial arts] and kickboxing champion who has won a host of prestigious competitions is set to make aliyah [immigrate] to Israel where he hopes to compete for the Jewish state.
Obed Hrangchal, 26, has already won two gold, seven silver and two bronze national medals in wushu, kickboxing, Muay Thai and karate. But what makes Hrangchal’s story unique is that he is an observant Jew and part of the Bnei Menashe community.
The Bnei Menashe say they are descended [from] Jews from a lost biblical tribe, banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century [BC].
Together with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister Lucy, Obed is set to fulfill his lifelong dream shortly after the Jewish High Holidays and immigrate to Israel, where they want to settle in the city of Nof HaGalil in [the] northern part of the country after they complete their absorption process.
“I have always dreamt of making aliyah to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so. If possible, I would certainly like to join the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and kickboxing competitions,” Obed said.
The athlete hopes to complete the immigration process with the help of Shavei Israel, an Israeli-based Jewish organization that encourages people of Jewish descent to strengthen their connection with Israel.
“We are very proud of Obed and his impressive accomplishments and we look forward to welcoming him and his family here in Israel along with the 700-plus other Bnei Menashe, whom we will be bringing in the coming year,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Obed is another outstanding example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society and I hope that we will soon see him ascending the stage and winning medals for Israel worldwide,” he added.
Originally from the village of Thinghlun in the Indian state of Mizoram, the Hrangchals were the only Jewish family in town. In 2013, they sold their home and farmlands to move to the capital city of Aizawl in order to join the local Jewish community while awaiting the opportunity to make aliyah.
Without the family farm, Obed’s father was left without a job, and being Jewish makes it more difficult to find steady work since Jews do not work on Shabbat [Sabbath] or Jewish holidays.
Despite the difficulties, Obed has succeeded in garnering widespread recognition in the sporting world and has won awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sport Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Association, which are affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I started practicing martial arts from a very young age, about six years old, but without proper instruction,” reports Obed Hrangchal. “As I grew up, I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014, when I competed in Chinese kickboxing or wushu and won second place. That same year, I began to study Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) under an instructor.”
Thus far, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah to Israel in the past two decades, thanks largely to Shavei Israel. Another 6,500 remain in India, all of whom wish to make the Jewish state their home.
Some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, Israel’s prophets spoke of a day when God would return the Jewish people to their own land. As we see the prophecy being fulfilled, Bridges for Peace partners with God to help bring His people—including the Bnei Menashe—home.
Over the past months, we have been praying with Rabbi Michael Freund of Shavei Yisrael for a breakthrough to allow the Bnei Menashe to come to Israel. We rejoiced together when that breakthrough came, with the new Minister of Immigration and Absorption MK (member of Knesset/Parliament) Pnina Tamano-Shata vowing to bring home the members of the Bnei Menashe community in India. Rabbi Freund asked for our help to make the homecoming a reality. “I would be grateful if you would pray over this request and consider partnering with Shavei Israel in this historic return of the Lost Tribe of Manasseh to its ancestral homeland. More than 25 centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah (11:12 NIV) foretold that the Lord ‘will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel.’ We are now witnessing those words come to pass.” It costs US $1,000 to bring one person home to Israel, and thousands are waiting. Do you want to be part of God's plan to bring them home? Your gift, no matter how large or small, will help us accomplish that.
Posted on September 22, 2020
Photo Credit: M Freund/shavei.org
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