Bnei Menashe’s Moshe Devashaiym from Zion Tora center- Erode, India
Bnei Menashe’s Moshe Devashaiym from Zion Tora center- Erode, India Courtesy of Shavei Israel

Like Jews elsewhere around the world, the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India gathered this week to celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe offered a special plea to fulfill their age-old dream to make Aliyah to Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or 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 borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to yearn to return to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

“Even in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, the Bnei Menashe have continued to uphold the ancient tradition of building Sukkot in honor of the festival,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “We fervently hope that next year, they will be able to do so in Israel.”

Thanks largely to Shavei Israel, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have already made Aliya, while another 6,500 remain in India awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland. Of these, 722 Bnei Menashe will be immigrating to Israel over the coming 12 months.

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