The man who returns the lost souls

Allison Josephs interviews Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei Israel.

Allison Josephs ,

Michael Freund
Michael Freund
Michael Freund

72 new immigrants from the Bnei Menashe Jewish community in India arrived in Israel for the first time last month.

They joined 30 other members of the Bnei Menashe community who were brought to Israel by the Shavei Israel organization this week, in cooperation with the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. The immigrants came from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram.

All 102 immigrants will reside in Nazareth, which is already home to hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community.

Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, the olim (immigrants to Israel) recited the Shema prayer for the first time in the land of Israel.

Shavei Israel Founder and CEO Michael Freund said that the arrival of the 102 olim marked the start of Operation Menashe 2017.

The group is now settling in to their new (temporary) homes at Shavei Israel’s Kfar Hasidim absorption center. The Bnei Menashe will stay in Kfar Hasidim for the next three months while they learn Hebrew, Judaism, and the basics of life in the modern Jewish state. They will then move to Upper Nazareth in the Lower Galilee.

Bnei Menashe (sons of Manasseh) claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.