The 102 Bnei Menashe
The 102 Bnei MenasheYehuda Schwartz/Shavei Israel

One hundred two members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community will officially join Israeli society on Monday, May 15.

The new Bnei Menashe immigrants arrived in Israel from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram in February. Mizoram borders Burma and Bangladesh and is home to the second-largest concentration of Bnei Menashe in India after that of the state of Manipur.

They are currently staying in a Kfar Hasidim absorption center run by Shavei Israel, and on Friday completed their formal conversion to Judaism and an intensive Hebrew course.

The new immigrants, who have received Israeli citizenship, will all settle in Nazareth Illit, which already has a flourishing Bnei Menashe community.

“This is an exciting day for all of us,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “After spending the past three months at the Shavei Israel Absorption Center, the Bnei Menashe immigrants will now settle in Upper Nazareth in the Galilee, where they will begin to build their new lives here in the Jewish state.”

“We will do everything we can to ensure that their integration into Israeli society goes as smoothly as possible. More than 2,700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the Land, the Bnei Menashe are returning home. Our task now is to ensure that they truly feel at home as well.”

The Bnei Menashe are believed to be descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. So far, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliyah thanks to Shavei Israel, including more than 1,100 in the past four years. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home to Zion.