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The B'nai Moshe (Hebrew: בני משה, "Children of Moses"), also known as Inca Jews, are a small group of several hundred converts to Judaism originally from the city of Trujillo, Peru, to the north of the capital city Lima.
Most B'nai Moshe now live in Israel, mostly in Kfar Tapuach along with Yemenite Jews, Russian Jews and others. They are in the process of absorption into the wider Jewish Israeli population, itself the in-gathering of a multitude of diverse Jewish ethnic divisions from around the world.
While Inca Jews is not the community's official designation, it is popular outside the community and is derived from the fact that they can trace descent from Peru's indigenous Amerindian people, although mostly in the form of mestizos (persons of mixed Spanish and Amerindian descent, though none with any known Spanish Jewish ancestors) and the association of that country's native population with the Incas.
The community was founded in 1966 by a local man of Trujillo named Villanueva, who faced great exclusion and prejudice in his native city as a result of his decision to convert from the Catholic Church to Judaism. Villanueva had visited Spain for a time, learning from the local Sephardic community, and upon his return, taught around 500 disillusioned former Catholics in Trujillo about Judaism, igniting a spark which would ultimately lead to their conversion to Judaism and joining the Jewish people.
Conversion and aliyah
In 1985, Villanueva made contact with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who sent Rabbi Myron Zuber to Peru to help with their formal conversions. In 1988, Zuber arrived in Peru and aided the converts in matters such as how to properly observe kashrut and Shabbat.
As a result of the Lima community's continuing reluctance, it was eventually decided that the B'nai Moshe could not reach their full potential in Peru, and decided that they make aliyah (emigration) to Israel once converted. A Beit Din initially performed formal conversions for about 300 members of the community in 1991, almost all of whom emigrated to Israel, who were followed by an additional 200 several years later. A community of around 30 B'nai Moshe moved to Lima at the same time, although they continued to face discrimination from the Ashkenazi community. Another 84 were formally converted in 2001.