A total of 235 new immigrants from the Bnei Menashe community in India landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday as part of the Yom HaAliyah national celebration on Oct. 12-13.

Hailing from Manipur in northeast India, they have preserved Jewish traditions across generations. Their move to Israel is the result of a government decision promoted by the Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata and the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization.

“The olim who landed this morning join the more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe who already live in Israel and have been integrated into Israel society successfully, and I would like to congratulate each and every one of them for finally returning home, to the Land of Israel,” said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel. “We still must not forget that 6,500 members of the community are still waiting in India and longing for the moment when they, too, will be able to come to Israel and it is our duty to do everything we can to make this happen.”

The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel that were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. They continue to nourish the dream of one day returning to the Land of Israel.

Children from the Bnei Menashe community in India arrive in Israel on Oct. 13, 2021. Credit: Laura Ben David, courtesy of Shavei Israel.

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