Israel marked an aliyah (immigration) milestone Thursday with the arrival of the 2,000th member of the Bnei Menashe community. Eighteen-year-old Mirna Singsit arrived in Israel along with 53 other members of the community, including her parents and three siblings.
The Bnei Menashe live in the Manipur state in northeastern India. They claim descent from the Biblical tribe of Menashe, one of the ten “lost tribes” exiled when the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel.
The community is now returning to Israel under the auspices of the Shavei Israel organization, a group that encourages communities of “lost Jews” around the world, including descendants of Jewish converts to Catholicism.
Shavei Israel director Michael Freund gave Singsit a certificate naming her the 2,000th arrival. Singsit told him that her arrival in Israel is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
“It’s hard to express in words how excited and happy I am right now,” she said. “This isn’t just my dream from the day I was born, it’s been my community’s dream for thousands of years, and now it’s finally coming true.”
She plans to complete a degree in political science that she began in India, and then work as a teacher. Her family will start its life in Israel in an absorption center, but Singsit says she hopes to someday move to Jerusalem, “the holiest place on earth.”
The arrival of the 54 new immigrants was “unforgettable,” Freund said. “After 2,700 years, the tribe of Menashe is coming home,” he declared.
The government allowed immigration from Manipur to resume last October after a five-year freeze. Since then 275 members of the Bnei Manashe community have come to Israel as new citizens. The latest arrivals will live in an absorption center in Givat Haviva, and are then expected to move to Akko and Migdal Haemek in northern Israel.