Lost Tribe of Israel

15 May


A group of citizens from India, the Bnei Menashe immigrants, who believe they are one of the “lost tribes” of Israel, have been granted permission by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to move to Israel following a five-year immigration halt. 

The Aliya will resume late August in which the first batch of 50 families will be brought to Israel to live as Israeli citizens and begin a new life.  Already, more than 1,700 Indian citizens have moved to Israel and the hope is that the remaining 7,000 will follow in the move.  The group believes they are the Bnei Menashe, the descendants of Manasseh, one of biblical patriarch Joseph’s two sons and a grandson of Jacob. 

The tribe comes from two states of Mizoram and Manipur, in which they claim they were exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire.  Although exiled and pushed towards the east settling in regions of China and India, many kept similar customs to those of the Jewish tradition including; observing Shabbat, keeping Kosher, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life and observing laws of family purity.  Although turned back by the Indian government and unable to immigrate to Israel in the 1950’s, many pledged to themselves they would one day move to Israel and now their prayers have been answered. 

Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, who is working on brining these immigrants to Israel believes the immigration of the Bnei Menashe to be bibal prophecy coming true, quoting from Isaiah 43:5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.”

Is it possible that this group of foreign immigrants is truly one of the lost tribes of Israel, and if so, what of their immigration and settlement in Israel?  If able to prove their Jewish identity, shouldn’t they also have the right of return as other Jews do, or is this only going to escalate the already much heated debate on “settlement building” to house more foreigners in an already tiny country?  The Federation wants to know what you think!

To read the full story, click here.


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