First batch of members of the Bnei Menashe tribe may arrive in Jewish state by year-end
The stage is set for 899 Indian Jews from Manipur and Mizoram, all members of the “lost” Bnei Menashe tribe, to immigrate to Israel, with Tel Aviv giving the nod for their migration.
The Cabinet last week decided to allow the immigration of the community in multiple groups with the first batch expected by the end of the year.
The Bnei Menashe (literally meaning sons of Menashe) tribe trace their roots to one of the 10 “lost tribes” of Jews exiled by the Assyrian regime over 2,700 years ago. Hundreds of Bnei Menashe are already living in Israel, having made aliyah (immigration) with the help of NGO Shavei Israel, which is dedicated to bringing “lost Jews” around the world to Israel.
Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel organisation, said he wished to see the entire community to come to Israel soon. “Our goal is to bring all remaining members of the community here to Israel as quickly as possible,” he was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post ton Sunday. He said the Cabinet’s decision would allow 200 Bnei Menashe people to be brought to Israel by this year-end, 400 in 2014 and another the rest in 2015. All immigrants would be housed in a private absorption centre run by Shavei Israel and then settled around the country.
Their immigration to Israel was facilitated by the ruling of the former chief Sephardic Rabbi in 2005. He declared them descendants of Israel amid intense debate over their Jewish ancestry.