INDIA’S BNEI MENASHE JEWISH MMA & KICKBOXING CHAMPION SET TO MAKE ALIYA
Obed Hrangchal hopes to represent Israel in international competitions
Obed Hrangchal, 26, is an Indian MMA and Kickboxing champion who 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 religiously observant and a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community from northeastern India, descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Together with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister, Lucy, Obed is slated to fulfill a life-long dream after the Jewish High Holidays and make Aliya (immigrate to Israel) thanks to Shavei Israel. Obed and his family are set to reside in the city of Nof HaGalil, after they complete their absorption process in Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim.
“I have always dreamt of making Aliya 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 and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and Kickboxing competitions,” Obed said.
“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 on Aliya 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.
Thus far, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliya to Israel in the past two decades, thanks largely to Shavei Israel. Another 6,500 remain in India, all of whom wish to make their home in the Jewish state. At a meeting in August, Israel’s Minister of Aliya and Absorption Penina Tamanu-Shata told Freund that, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry, she was moving ahead with the Aliya of 722 Bnei Menashe, including Obed Hrangchal and his family.
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 Aliya. Without the family farm, Gabriel, Obed’s father, has been left without a proper profession. Being Jewish makes it more difficult to find steady work since they do not work on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. While taking leave these days they often find that they are replaced.
Despite these difficulties, Obed has succeeded in garnering widespread recognition and has won awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sports 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 6 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.”
Obed is excited about his upcoming Aliyah to Israel and, like other young people from the Bnei Menashe community, he doesn’t just want to be in Israel, rather he would like to contribute to the country. He would like to continue his MMA training and competition in the Holy Land, with the hope of competing on behalf of Israel and representing his homeland.
The Bnei Menashe, sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh. Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. They continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel. Thus far, Shavei Israel has made the dream of Aliyah, immigration to Israel, possible for over 4,000 Bnei Menashe and plans to help bring more members of the community to Israel. Currently, there are 6,500 Bnei Menashe awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland.
About Shavei Israel:
Shavei Israel is a nonprofit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in more than a dozen countries and provides assistance to a variety of communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to by the derogatory term “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal, and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others. For more information visit: www.shavei.org
New York Jewish Guide