Photo: Dani Danosh
Pardes Hanna council head Haim Ga'ash
Photo: Dani Danosh
Menashe tribe members convert (Archives)
Photo: Ata Uwisat

Northern town rejects Bnei Menashe olim

Pardes Hanna council head speaks out against secret aliyah of northeast Indian Jews, says will take steps to ensure olim not brought to town

Some 200 Indian immigrants are expected to arrive at the northern town of Pardes Hanna within the next few days, much to the dismay of the town’s council head, Haim Ga'ash.


The immigrants are supposed to stay at a local religious high-school, Midrashat Noam, but Ga’ash, who does not intend on allowing the immigrants to settle in the town, said the move was not coordinated with him, and he would do all in his power to stop it.


Shavei Yisrael, an organization which locates and identifies long-lost Jewish communities, claimed the immigrants were part of the lost tribe of Menashe, and asserted that they would only be staying at Midrashat Noam temporarily.


“Immigrants are brought to the town and we aren’t even informed of who they are, what their needs are, or how long they are coming for,” Ga’ash protested.


'Strange phenomenon'

“It is a strange phenomenon. It seems these are foreign workers brought under a clever guise. No one shared information with us or coordinated anything with us. It’s not very logical for a group of olim to come to Israel in secret.


“I have spoken to the Immigration Absorption Minister Jacob Edery, and he said he didn’t know anything about it. The Immigration and Absorption Ministry’s branch in Hadera also said they didn’t know anything about it,” Ga’ash added.


The council head added that Pardes Hanna had already absorbed a large number of immigrants, but that he would fight against having to absorb the anticipated group.


“I intend on checking with the council’s legal consultant with regards to an injunction against bringing them to the town,” Ga’ash said. “I have informed Midrashat Noam that it was not permitted to house olim in its buildings. It is an educational institute, not an absorption center.”


Shavei Yisrael’s chief rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum said it was “impressive” that after 2,700 years, a part of the Jewish people were returning to their land. “People who were living well there have left their homes and properties, and are fulfilling the dream of returning to Israel,” the rabbi said.


“We are only asking to put up the Menashe tribe members in Pardes Hanna temporarily, and we aren’t asking the council for anything – not religious services, welfare services, or education services.


“They are arriving at Midrashat Noam, which is an educational institute, just like northern residents arrived there during the Second Lebanon War. They will only stay two or three months, and once they complete the education process, they will be sent to absorption centers in the north,” Birnbaum said.


According to Minister Edry’s spokeswoman, Orly Yehezkel, “The ministry was not in the loop regarding the immigration of the Menashe tribe members, and is not involved in bringing them or absorbing them.”


פרסום ראשון: 08.23.07, 11:36
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