Hugs at the airport
Photo: Yaron Brenner
And more hugs
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Indian immigrants: Israel is our home
Fifty members of Bnei Menashe tribe arrive in Israel Tuesday

Sara Menashe, 78, arrived in Israel from India on Tuesday with 49 other members of the Bnei Menashe tribe.


"I am happy to be finally in the Land of Israel. Since I was a child they told me about the family's dream to immigrate to Israel," said the new immigrant.


Sara was welcomed at the Ben Gurion International Airport by her daughter who lives in Kiryat Arba. Five of Sara's children live in India.


Arbi Kanta, 18, immigrated alone. She told Ynet: "The first thing I want to do is to visit the Temple Mount to place notes given by friends and family. After that I want to study. I want to become a nurse."


"I feel rather lonely," she admits, "but this is my home. That's my land and my country. In Mizoram, everyone loves Israel. We learnt Judaism and Hebrew there and converting was not difficult."


The immigrants were welcomed by Zvi Khaute, coordinator for the Bnei Menashe community in Israel on behalf of the Shavei Israel organization which "reaches out" to people of Jews roots who wish to live in Israel.


Lost tribes 

"The security situation and the economic problems in Israel are not a problem for us. So long we are alive in Israel, that's our dream and that of our fathers. We are luck to be allowed to immigrate. The most important thing now is to bring all 7,000 of our brothers who remain there."


In the coming days 166 new immigrants are set to arrive from India.


Bnei Menashe is one of 10 Israeli tribes who were exiled by the Assyrians 2,700 years ago.


About 7,000 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe live in the eastern Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram. One thousand members of the community immigrated to Israel over the last few years.


Immigrants undergo a seminar in Mumbai before making aliya.


The 50 newcomers will be housed in Nazareth Ilit and Carmiel. USD 1.5 million have been donated to assist in the program of relocating Bnei Menashe tribe members in Israel.


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