The group is also extensively involved with emerging communities in Spain, Portugal, South and Central America and Mexico, seeking people whose Sephardic ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions in those lands. The descendants of these forced converts were known as Marranos, they are also known as crypto-Jews if they maintained their Jewish faith in secrecy, or as Anusim if later generations eventually embraced Catholicism and lost all connection with their Jewish roots.
Shavei Israel also helps people whose Judaism was lost through cultural assimilation, to reconnect with or return to Judaism.
Shavei Israel insists that it is not a missionary organization, but simply a group trying to reconnect people to their Jewish roots.
It offers various educational options in Israel, including Machon Miriam, the only Spanish-language conversion and return institute in Jerusalem. Dozens of Spanish and Portuguese crypto-Jews graduate from Machon Miriam each year, and proceed to undergo formal conversion by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.
It also helps people who have converted to Judaism make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) The organization has also published a series of books on Judaism in a dozen languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Mizo, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian and German. Plans are also underway to send rabbis to the remaining Subbotnik communities in Russia.