by: Ilse Posselt
Friday, 17 February 2017 | They are known as Bnei Menashe (sons of Menashe). This small community living in north-eastern India, on a patch of land pocketed between Myanmar and Bangladesh, has been exiled from Israel and separated from their people for nearly three millennia. Yet their faithful Judaism is not the result of adopting a new religion through a conversion process. The Bnei Menashe, the descendants of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel, the tribe of Menashe, have merely returned to the faith of their forbearers.
According to the community’s website, the Sons of Menashe trace their lineage back to the Assyrian exile from the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 BC across the silk route before finally settling down in India and Myanmar. Now, following 2,700 years in exile, 102 sons and daughters of Menashe came home to the Promised Land this week.
“After 27 centuries of exile, this lost tribe of Israel is truly coming home,” explains Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel, a non-profit organization that works to return “lost” and “hidden” Jews to Israel. “But we will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make aliyah (return to Israel) as well.”
The past few years have seen some 3,000 Bnei Menashe return to the Promised Land. A further 7,000 remain in India awaiting their homecoming. The current group of new immigrants will live in Nazareth following in the footsteps of other Bnei Menashe who have already settled in the central Israeli city.
According to Freund, this week’s arrivals mark the launch of Operation Menashe 2017. “Over the course of the coming year, with God’s help, we will bring a total of more than 700 Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel—the largest-ever airlift in a single year.”
This week’s happy homecoming also held a hint of sadness. Among the group of new immigrants were Mizmor Sharon and her two children. Her husband died two weeks ago after a long battle with cancer.
“My children and I are heartbroken that their father did not live to see his dream of making aliyah come true,” said Sharon. “But we are excited to be making this journey and to honor his legacy by building our new lives in the Jewish homeland. I am sure that he will be with us in spirit with every step that we take on the holy soil of Israel.”
Editor’s Note: Bridges for Peace works closely with Shavei Israel, providing funds for transportation and other expenses to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel. Once they are in the Land, we provide them with practical assistance to help them establish new homes. Please consider joining us in this effort with a donation (click here).
Posted on February 17, 2017
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 17 February 2017)
Photo Credit: Shavei Israel
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