A group of 40 Bnei Menashe made Aliyah today from India, the first batch out of a total of 250 immigrants from the Lost Tribe that are slated to arrive over the coming month.
The immigrants, who hail from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, were brought to Israel by Shavei Israel, which received permission from the Israeli government last October to bring 900 Bnei Menashe to the Jewish state by 2015.
Earlier this year, Shavei Israel brought 160 Bnei Menashe on Aliyah from the Indian state of Mizoram.
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Menashe (or Manasseh), one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel which were exiled by the Assyrian empire after the death of King Solomon more than 2,700 years ago.
The immigrants were greeted this morning at Ben-Gurion Airport by Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, who led them in the recitation of the traditional Shehecheyanu blessing that is recited to give thanks to G-d on special occasions.
“Your arrival is part of the miracle, the miracle of Israel’s return to its Land,” Freund told the immigrants, while counseling them that “being an immigrant is not easy and you will face many challenges along the way. But always remember that the State of Israel is one of G-d’s greatest gifts to the Jewish people, and our generation is privileged to be living here.”
The new arrivals include Edna, a young woman who has been separated from her fiancé, Gamliel, for more than seven years since he made Aliyah. In 2007, after Gamliel and 230 other Bnei Menashe moved to Israel, the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert froze the community’s immigration. It was only restarted in 2012, after Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund succeeded in persuading Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to resume it.
Today’s flight was sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).
More than 2,200 Bnei Menashe now live in Israel; another 7,000 remain in India, all of whom wish to move to Israel.
All photos courtesy of Shavei Israel.