“It was like a dream come true for me. I couldn’t hold back my tears.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
In an emotional gathering, 550 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India visited the Western Wall for the first time on Wednesday.
They were joined by Chief Rabbi David Lau and other dignitaries in praying for their 5,000 family members in India to be able to join them in Israel.
“It was like a dream come true for me. I couldn’t hold back my tears. It feels like we are part of a prophecy being fulfilled,” Shmuel Manlun, a 40-year-old Bnei Menashe, told Israel National News.
The Bnei Menashe trace their roots back to the tribe of Menashe, which was one of the 10 tribes exiled by the Assyrian Empire as described in the Book of Kings II.
These families wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, eventually settling in what is now the northeastern Indian region of Manipur. which borders Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Despite their 2,700 years in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to observe the Sabbath and holidays, kashrut and family purity.
“Seeing and touching the stones of the Western Wall was an extremely emotional experience for the Bnei Menashe. For them, it was not only a symbolic and historic event signifying a people returning to their land, but also a powerful spiritual moment, unlike any they have experienced before,” said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, which promotes the aliyah of B’nei Menashe.
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