Over 200 new immigrants came from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur to Israel.
The state, which is on the border with Burma, is home to the largest concentration of Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manassah) in India.
The new immigrants plan on settling in the Galilee, where many Bnei Menashe immigrants have made homes. They initially will reside in Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, where they will formally convert to Judaism.
Upon arrival, the new immigrants will immediately begin preparing for Passover.
“This is very exciting for all of us. We are witnessing a modern day Exodus from India a week before these new olim will celebrate their first Passover in Israel. After 27-centuries of exile, this lost tribe of Israel is finally making its way home,” said Shavei Israel founder Michael Freund. “We will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make Aliyah as well.”
“I’m so happy that I don’t know how to express my feelings,” said Mr. Yoel Haokip, who was reunited recently with his parents, brothers, and sister. He had not seen them in three years. They were introduced to their granddaughter, Revital Haokip, for the first time. “We have waited many years for this. This year in Jerusalem!” In addition to eighteen-month-old Revital, Mr. Haokip traveled with his older daughter Emunah, and his wife Nurit.
The Bnei Menashe believe they are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. They came to Israel, thanks to Shavei Israel, which has made the dream of Aliyah possible for over 3,000 Bnei Menashe over the last 15-years, including more than 1,100 in the past four years. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home to Zion.
Shavei Israel reaches out to and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. It works with various groups around the world, such as the Bnei Menashe, the Bnei Anousim (“Marranos”) of Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and the “Hidden Jews” of Poland from the time of the Holocaust. The organization also engages in the absorption of new olim in Israel, including providing assistance with housing, employment, and professional training.