Coloring the Bnei Menashe in orange?
Jerusalem Post News Editor and award-winning blogger Amir Mizroch, together with Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours and Eretz Ahavati, travels to North East India with the aim of meeting the alleged dispersed descendants of Menashe and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph. The 12-day journey will cover the border area between Burma, India and Bangladesh, to the states of Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, and then continue to the northern plains of the state of Uttar Pradesh.
KOLASIB, AND SHIFIR, Mizoram - We drive north to south through the Chin mountains into Mizoram. We're climbing along a ridge road which naturally winds from left to right in wide arcs, so every few minutes we can see the view from the right side of the mountain into the valleys below, and then the same from the left side. Even this far up the terrain looks tropical - lush jungles, this is because of the monsoons which bring over 2,000mm of rain annually [Israel has something like 300mm]. We're headed into Kolasib district, northern sector of Mizoram. And we're headed to Aizwol, the largest city in the state. Mizoram is roughly the size of Israel: 21,000 km squared in length, and it has small pockets of confused Jews. That's where the comparison ends.
We stop just several hundred meters away from the Mizoram - Assam border at the home of the local Bnei Menashe community leader, Reuven Pachuan.
I notice that everywhere we go people are chewing something that they spit out from time to time and makes their teeth red. I am told it is the Pan fruit, which is found at the top of the tall trees here and is mildly narcotic. Colonel Auja, who is our fixer on this trip, sends one of the local boys to climb one of the tress across the road to show us the fruit. The trees are exceptionally tall, like coconut trees, except they bear the Pan fruit. The boy climbs up a tree with while his feet are bound by rope, and then on his way down he swings like a monkey, from one tree to another, showing off.
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