Returning from afar

They remained true their ancestors' ways, observing Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating festivals, never forgetting where they came from.

Freund with a Bnei Menashe youth in India 311 (photo credit: MICHAEL FREUND)
Freund with a Bnei Menashe youth in India 311
(photo credit: MICHAEL FREUND)
We are living in extraordinary times. The hand of God in the affairs of man is evident, and there is no greater proof of this than the ingathering of the Jewish exiles from the four corners of the earth.
“Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth,” declares the Lord in Isaiah 43:6.
Over the past 60 years since the founding of the State of Israel, that is precisely what has been occurring, as Jews from Russia, Ethiopia and elsewhere have all heard the sound of the great shofar and come to Jerusalem.
But now, a very special community has also begun its long journey back.
In the farthest reaches of northeast India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh, live the Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for “the sons of Manasseh”).
They are descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, the tribe of Manasseh, which was exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrians some 2,700 years ago (see I Chronicles 5:26).
Throughout their wanderings, the Bnei Menashe remained true to the ways of their ancestors. They observed the Sabbath, kept kosher, and celebrated the festivals. They never forgot where they came from or who they are, and they remained true to the Lord.
And now, after so many centuries, God is rewarding them for their faithfulness and bringing them back.
Over the past decade, Shavei Israel has brought 1,700 Bnei Menashe to Israel, where they have been absorbed successfully into the Jewish state.
Another 7,232 remain in India, awaiting their chance to return.
Over the past year, Israel’s government has been deliberating whether to allow the rest of the community to make aliya. It is expected soon to pass a decision that will enable all the remaining Bnei Menashe to come home to Zion. This is a momentous development and a miracle of biblical proportions, which will help strengthen Israel both spiritually and demographically.
But just what does any of this have to do with Christians? The answer is everything, if you take the Bible seriously.
The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Gentile nations would play an active role in the historic return of the Jewish people to their homeland.
In Isaiah 49:22 the Bible says, “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the nations, and set up my standard to the peoples, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” Based on this, everyone has a biblical responsibility to facilitate the return of the Jewish people to Israel.
In these critical times, there can be no better way to bless Israel than by supporting the return of Jews from around the world to Zion.
Michael Freund is chairman of Shavei Israel (Israel Returns), which helps the Lost Tribes of Israel return to Zion. For more information, visit:, or write to: