MANIPUR, INDIA (ANS) -- Thousands of Indian Jews who claim to be descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel might soon have their permits ready to travel to Israel, the Promised Land.
Christian Today India, on its website, reported that the Israeli government was expected to give final approval in the next few weeks to allow the 7,200 remaining members of the Bnei Menashe (children of Manasseh) community in the India’s northeast states of Manipur and Mizoram to immigrate to Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has decided to bring to the Jewish state the remaining 7,232 members of this northeastern Indian community.
The Bnei Menashe is one of a group of more than 9,000 people from India's border states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim that they are the descendants from one of the "lost 10 tribes of Israel" who were exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the eighth century B.C.
During the exile, the tribe is believed to have traveled through Persia, Tibet, China and on to eastern India. The claim appeared after a Pentecostalist dreamed in 1951 that his people's pre-Christian religion was Judaism and that their original homeland was Israel.
Although many had converted to Christianity, in recent decades thousands are turning back to Judaism with the help of rabbinical judges from Israel. More than 1,700 members of Bnei Menashe, mostly Chin-Mizo-Kuki people speaking Tibeto-Burmese dialects, is said to have immigrated to Israel over the last decade.
For the forthcoming aliyah (the word that describes the return of the Jewish People from their exile in the Diaspora), two organizations have agreed to provide financial assistance to those immigrating to Israel.
It was studied through the source that Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based organization that works with “lost” Jews around the world, is likely to cover more than $20 million estimated costs of immigration.
The founder of the organization, Michael Freund, termed it a “historic breakthrough” which will allow the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe to return to Zion.
A Christian evangelical organization has agreed to cover some of the costs for transportation.
“We are absolutely dedicated to supporting this initiative,” Juergen Buehler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, was quoted saying.
Buehler's organization plans to gather funds for the immigration at an event that is expected to attract more than 5,000 evangelicals this month.
Members of the Bnei Menashe community have the benefit of applying for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return that requires no authorization from the country's Interior Ministry. However, this process applies to only those who have converted to Judaism.
James Varghese is a reporter for Masihat newspaper in India, and is also a freelance journalist working for ANS.
Publication date: November 2, 2011