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Israeli Government Allows 7,000 Bnei Menashe to Make Aliyah

Thanks to the efforts of Shavei Israel, government drafts plan to allow for more than 7,000 of the Bnei Menashe to arrive in Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/24/2011, 3:52 AM / Last Update: 6/24/2011, 6:15 AM

INN file photo

More than 7,000 members of the Bnei Menashe will soon arrive in Israel, CBN reported on Thursday.

The Bnei Menashe claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. They reside primarily in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their exile, and even after their one copy of the written Torah was lost, the Bnei Menashe have continued to observe Jewish traditions, including the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals, following family purity laws, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt.

Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based group which assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people, has helped bring many of the Bnei Menashe to Israel, and is helping facilitate this wave of aliyah as well.

Thanks to Shavei Israel’s efforts, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate officially recognized the Bnei Menashe in 2005 as being “descendants of Israel.” The organization has also helped publish a translation of the Book of Shemot (Exodus) into Mizo, one of the main languages spoken by the Bnei Menashe, in order to enable them to reconnect with their heritage and with the basic texts of the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel’s chairman, Michael Freund, on Monday briefed the members of the Knesset committee on immigration and absorption on the successful integration of some 1,700 Bnei Menashe, who immigrated to Israel earlier, into Israeli society.

He told them that an astounding 96 percent of the Bnei Menashe are employed, the majority of their sons chose combat units during their compulsory IDF service, many are enrolled in colleges and universities, and some have been ordained as rabbis.

Freund then told the committee members that “It is time for Israel to let the remaining Bnei Menashe come home.”

He told CBN that what had happened next was a “miracle”: The committee agreed to draft a resolution that would be presented to the cabinet for approval by the end of July.

The resolution, Freund told CBN, “means we are just one month away from an historic turning point, one that will restore 7,732 precious souls to the Jewish people.”

He predicted, “Soon enough I am sure the Bnei Menashe will cross the sea, reuniting with the Land and the people of Israel after a remarkable journey.”