In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe offered a special plea, asking to fulfill their age-old dream to make aliyah to Israel during the coming year.
Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund said, "The Bnei Menashe are anxiously waiting for Israel's government to pass a decision to allow them to come to Israel. We hope the New Year will bring good news and that the dream of the Bnei Menashe to come to Israel will soon become a reality”.
Photo courtesy of Shavei Israel
The Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for "sons of Manasseh") claim descent from one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. They live in India's northeastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram.
Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.
Throughout their exile, the Bnei Menashe nonetheless continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.
In recent years, Shavei Israel has brought some 1,500 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion, including 450 in the past three years who settled in the Upper Galilee. Another 7,000 still remain in India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel and the Jewish people.