(Laura Ben David/Shavei Israel via Israel21c)
Bnei Menashe

New immigrants from northeast India landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in a special operation to bring descendants of the Tribe of Menashe to Israel.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

On October 13, 235 more immigrants from the Bnei Menashe community landed in Israel after years of waiting to come home.

Hailing from Manipur in northeast India, they are descendants of the lost biblical tribe of Menashe and have preserved the Jewish tradition across 27 centuries of exile.

The latest group of Bnei Menashe to arrive was assisted by Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata and the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, following months of preparation in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, said more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe already live in Israel and have been integrated in the Israel society successfully.

“We still must not forget that 6,500 members of the community are still waiting in India and longing for the moment when they too will be able to come to Israel and it is our duty to do everything we can to make this happen,” Freund added.

The ancestors of the Bnei Menashe were part of the Assyrian exile. These families wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Tamano-Shata welcomed the newcomers. “It’s good that you are at home. For years you dreamed about returning to Zion and now we have managed to make the dream come true,” she said.

“According to the policy I lead in the ministry, we work to bring Jews to Israel from all countries of the world, regardless of race, gender, origin or income level.”