Five women from Bnei Menashe to make aliyah in New Year

After being processed by the Aliyah and Absorption Ministry, the sisters will enter quarantine in line with Health Ministry guidelines for new arrivals.

Members of India’s Bnei Menashe Jewish community (photo credit: LAURA BEN-DAVID/SHAVEI ISRAEL)
Members of India’s Bnei Menashe Jewish community
(photo credit: LAURA BEN-DAVID/SHAVEI ISRAEL)
Five women from the Bnei Menashe Jewish community in northeastern India will make aliyah to Israel on Sunday, despite the country-wide lockdown placed on the Israeli public amid rising infection rates.
Sisters, Rut (28), Dina (21), and Avigail Lhanghal (13) from Manipur, in addition to Malka Zote (37), and Tiferet Renthlei (33), will be making aliyah from Mizoram, following the absorption of 252 other Bnei Menashe members who made the journey to Israel two weeks prior.
From left to right: Malka Zote; Tiferet Renthlei; Rut Lhanghal; Dinah Lhanghal; Avigail Lhanghal. Photo Credit: Assaf Renthlei. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)From left to right: Malka Zote; Tiferet Renthlei; Rut Lhanghal; Dinah Lhanghal; Avigail Lhanghal. Photo Credit: Assaf Renthlei. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)
Their immigration was advanced by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata as well as the Shavei Israel organization, which has promoted their case for immigration to the Jewish state. The sisters will be housed at Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Nordia with the other 252 immigrants from the Indian community who arrived the weeks prior.
After being processed by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the sisters will enter quarantine in line with Health Ministry guidelines for new arrivals.
"We are happy to start 2021 with the aliyah of five more Bnei Menashe to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel, where they will join their family members who already live here,” said Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund. “We are confident that 2021 will prove to be a significant year for the continued aliyah of the Bnei Menashe, as we are planning to bring more than 500 new immigrants from the community to Israel, which is double the number we were able to bring in 2020.”
The Bnei Menashe ethnic group is said to number at around 10,000 total, and is believed by many to be descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes, specifically that of Menashe. They were recognized as members of a lost tribe in 2005 by then-Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Atar, though he did specify they would need to formally convert.
To date, more than 4,000 members of the community have made aliyah to Israel - some 6,500 still live in India. Within their "exile," the community observes and practices Jewish tradition (i.e. observe the sabbath, keep kosher and celebrate the holidays on the Jewish calendar).
The claim of the Bnei Menashe to be descendants of the tribe of Menashe, exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire, has aroused criticism in the past.
The Chief Rabbinate initially did not consider the Bnei Menashe to be Jewish, and their immigration was halted at the beginning of the 21st century.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.