The cabinet has voted to allow nearly 900 “lost Jews” from India to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel over the upcoming months.
The new immigrants-to-be are members of the Bnei Menashe, a group of Indian citizens who trace their roots to the Jewish tribe of Menashe (Manasseh) – one of the ten “lost tribes” exiled by the Assyrian regime over 2,700 years ago.
Hundreds of Bnei Menashe are already living in Israel, having made aliyah with the help of the Shavei Israeli organization, a group dedicated to finding “lost Jews” around the world.
A group of 274 Bnei Menashe immigrants arrived in Israel earlier this year. Shavei Israel helped them get established in Acre (Acco) and Migdal HaEmek in northern Israel.
The 899 expected new arrivals will come in multiple groups. The first group is scheduled to arrive in Israel in just six weeks, with subsequent groups arriving over the course of 2014.
In addition to its work in India, Shavei Israel has established Jewish communities in Portugal and southern Italy, and elsewhere, among the descendants of “anousim” – Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism. The organization also holds seminars for Polish youth from Jewish backgrounds whose families hid their Jewish roots due to the Holocaust.