Bnei Menashe aliya to resume this summer

Some 50 families, numbering around 250 people, expected to come before end of August with Interior Ministry approval.

young members of Bnei Menashe_370 (photo credit: Courtesy Shavei Israel)
young members of Bnei Menashe_370
(photo credit: Courtesy Shavei Israel)
For the first time in five years, a large group of Bnei Menashe immigrants from northeastern India is slated to make aliya this summer.
The Shavei Israel organization, which assists descendants of Jews to reconnect with their roots, is slated to bring the Bnei Menashe, who claim descent from the tribe of Menashe, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
Some 50 families, numbering upward of 250 people, are expected to come before the end of August with the approval of the Interior Ministry, to be followed by another group later in the year. The families will be settled in the Galilee in coordination with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
“The resumption of the Bnei Menashe aliya is long overdue,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, who is also a Jerusalem Post columnist. “The last time we were able to bring a group was in 2007,” he said.
More than 1,700 Bnei Menashe moved to Israel over the last decade, but former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government halted their immigration, even though the rabbinate had hitherto recognized the community as “descendants of Israel.”
Freund, who previously served as an aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, launched an intensive lobbying campaign which resulted in the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption’s decision last June to bring the remaining 7,232 Bnei Menashe to the Jewish state. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman headed the committee.
Shavei Israel is expected to cover the cost of transporting the immigrants to Israel as well as the initial period after their arrival, while the government will pay for their absorption.
“The return of this lost tribe to Zion more than 2,700 years after their ancestors were exiled by the Assyrian empire is nothing less than a miracle,” Freund said.