World Jewish News
More than 100 Bnei Menashe Jews from India are making aliyah
2700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the Land of Israel, more than 100 Bnei Menashe Jewish community from northeastern India are making aliyah. The first 30 of 102 members of the community arrived Tuesday at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.
They are being brought by Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that aims to strengthen ties between the Jewish people and descendants of Jews around the world.
The 102 new immigrants all hail from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, which borders Burma and Bangladesh and is home to the second-largest concentration of Bnei Menashe in India after that of the state of Manipur.
This marks the first time since Jan. 2014 that Bnei Menashe are making aliyah from Mizoram. Seventy-two more immigrants will arrive on Thursday. They all plan to settle in Nazareth Illit in the Galilee, which already has a flourishing Bnei Menashe community.
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. So far, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah thanks to Shavei Israel, including more than 1,100 in the past four years. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India.
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. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.
“We are excited to be launching Operation Menashe 2017 with the aliyah this week of 102 Bnei Menashe from Mizoram,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Over the course of the coming year, with G-d’s help, we will bring a total of more than 700 Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel – the largest-ever airlift in a single year.”
“After 27 centuries of exile, this lost tribe of Israel is truly coming home. But we will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make aliyah as well,” he said.