(JNS.org) The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), a Christian Zionist organization based in Jerusalem, has co-sponsored, along with Michael Freund and Shavei Israel, the immigration of another wave of members of India’s Bnei Menashe “lost tribe” to Israel, reuniting them with their families and ancestral homeland.
The Bnei Menashe is a community located in northeastern India whose members claim to descend from the tribe of Manasseh, one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. While some have doubted their connection to Judaism, in 2005, Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi recognized the group as descendants of one of the lost tribes, paving the way for them to immigrate to Israel under the Right of Return law. But due to their long interruption from Judaism, they were required to undergo conversion.
“We have been waiting eagerly to come home to our ancestral lands,” said Elyashiv Khupchwang, a young Bnei Menashe father. “I am so proud of this moment and feel such peace about finally making it home.”
According to the ICEJ, the recent wave of Bnei Menashe began arriving in late December. The final of four flights of Bnei Menashe arrived on Monday morning, carrying an additional 40 people, putting the recent total at 160.
David Parsons, the media spokesman for ICEJ, explained that once the immigrants finish Hebrew-language classes and the conversion process, they will be moved into their own apartments in the Galilee.
“The Bnei Menashe have shown incredible patience and determination in their desire to rejoin the Jewish people back in the Land of Israel. It is our privilege to assist them in realizing the hope of so many generations to return to Zion,” Parsons told JNS.org.
The ICEJ said it expects to be able to bring another 300 Bnei Menashe later this year or next. Some 2,000 Bnei Menashe are living in Israel now, with about 7,000 Bnei Menashe are still awaiting immigration.