Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bnei Menashe Move To Israel: Indian Jews From 'Lost Tribe' Arrive In Holy Land

Dozens of Jews who claim to be the descendants of a lost biblical Jewish tribe emigrated to Israel on Monday from their village in northeastern India, celebrating their arrival after a five-year struggle to get in.

The Bnei Menashe say they are descended from Jews banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century B.C. An Israeli chief rabbi recognized them as a lost tribe in 2005, and about 1,700 moved to Israel over the next two years before the government stopped giving them visas.

Israel recently reversed that policy, agreeing to let the remaining 7,200 Bnei Menashe immigrate.

Fifty-three arrived on a flight Monday. Michael Freund, an Israel-based activist on their behalf, said nearly 300 others will arrive in the coming weeks.

"After waiting for thousands of years, our dream came true," said Lhing Lenchonz, 26, who arrived with her husband and 8-month-old daughter. "We are now in our land."

Not all Israelis think Bnei Menashe qualify as Jews, and some suspect they are simply fleeing poverty in India.

Avraham Poraz, a former interior minister, said they were not linked to the Jewish people. He also charged that Israeli settlers were using them to strengthen Israel's claims to the West Bank.

When Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized the Bnei Menashe as a lost tribe in 2005, he insisted they undergo conversion to be recognized as Jews ... Read the full story by Lauren E. Bohn in Huffington Post

Author: Lauren E. Bohn│Associated Press
Photo: Jewish immigrants of the Bnei Menashe tribe reunite with relatives at the Ben Gurion airport on December 24, 2012 near Tel Aviv, Israel. Fifty members of Bnei Menasche are emigrating to join the 1,700 already resident in Israel, following a 2005 ruling in which they were recognized by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar as being the descendents of the Manasseh, a lost biblical Jewish tribe. An estimated 7,200 Bnei Menasche remain in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur are eligible to emigrate should ...

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