web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Columns »

Bring The Bnei Menashe Home To Israel

Share Button

Several time zones away, in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, live thousands of men and women longing to rejoin the Jewish people.
 
Scattered throughout the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, they follow Jewish law, observe the Sabbath and festivals, and even pray in Hebrew, turning their faces, and dreams, toward Zion.
 
Known as the Bnei Menashe, they trace their ancestry back to the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes that were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian empire more than 2,700 years ago.
 
Despite centuries of wandering, the Bnei Menashe clung to their Jewish heritage and preserved their traditions. They never forgot who they were or where they came from, or to where they dreamed of one day returning.
 
In 2005, the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, formally recognized the Bnei Menashe as “descendants of Israel” and encouraged their return to Israel and the Jewish people.
 
Over the past decade, more than 1,700 members of the community have made aliyah to Israel thanks to Shavei Israel, the organization I chair.
 
All have undergone formal conversion by the Chief Rabbinate to remove any doubts regarding their personal status and have been granted Israeli citizenship.
 
But another 7,232 remain in India, anxiously awaiting their chance to make aliyah. The time has come to put an end to their waiting.
 
Over the past year, I have been intensively lobbying Israel’s government on behalf of the Bnei Menashe, and I am optimistic that a breakthrough is near.
 
Both the chief rabbi and Interior Minister Eli Yishai have expressed their support for bringing the remaining members of the community to Israel. All that is needed now is for the Israeli government to take the courageous and historic decision to reunite this lost tribe with our people.
 
The Bnei Menashe will be loyal citizens and good Jews. They are kind and soft-spoken, with strong family values and a deep abiding faith in the Torah. Nearly all are religiously observant, with a profound and passionate commitment to Zionism.
 
Only four percent of Bnei Menashe immigrants are reliant on social welfare benefits, which is less than half the percentage of veteran Israelis. They are hard-working and earnest people, and the arrival of thousands of them will be a true blessing for the Jewish state.
 
Several members of the community in Israel have received rabbinical ordination and now work in outreach, while another is a certified religious scribe whose quill has produced beautiful Scrolls of Esther.
 
Dozens of others have served in elite combat units, risking their lives in defense of the country.
 
Simply put, they strengthen us both quantitatively and qualitatively, demographically and spiritually.
 
Moreover, the Bnei Menashe are part of the extended Jewish family, and we owe it to them and their ancestors, as well as to ourselves, to bring them home.
 
According to their tradition, after their forefathers were expelled from the Land of Israel, the Bnei Menashe wandered eastward toward China before settling in what is now northeastern India, where they continued to practice biblical Judaism. This included observing the Sabbath and the laws of family purity, circumcision on the eighth day after birth, levirate marriage and sacrificial rites tantalizingly close to those of ancient Israel.
 
This would not be the first time a lost tribe has been found. Take, for example, the Ethiopian Jews, whose aliyah to Israel was nothing less than a modern-day miracle. When the Chief Rabbinate ruled in 1973 that they were Jews, the decision was based in part on the belief that the Ethiopians were descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Dan.
 
Since that historic ruling, tens of thousands of Ethiopians have come to Israel, bolstering the country and adding some much-needed demographic reinforcements to its Jewish population. There is no reason for the Bnei Menashe to be treated any differently.
 
Recently, the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs issued a historic decision calling on the Israeli government to bring home the Bnei Menashe remaining in India.
 
I testified before the committee, and was delighted when its chairman, MK Danny Danon, declared that “it is the Israeli government’s duty and responsibility to bring the rest of the Bnei Menashe home as soon as possible.”
 
No matter how one looks at it, the story of the Bnei Menashe is testimony to the power of Jewish memory, to that unquenchable pintele Yid (Jewish spark) that dwells deep in the heart of each and every Jew.
 
Israel, of course, faces many challenges, and the government is busy grappling with various diplomatic, political and security issues.
 

But the time has come to bring this 2,700 year-long saga of dispersion to an end.  The time has come to bring Manasseh’s children home. The time has come to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel.

 

 

Michael Freund is chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.

Share Button

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Bring The Bnei Menashe Home To Israel”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab rioters hurl objects at Israeli security personnel who use pepper spray to quell the violence emanating from the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Arab Violence Closes Temple Mount to Visitors Again
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Bob Grant

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

Camelot-112213

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who scored the first basket in the history of the league that evolved into the National Basketball Association, died last week at age 94.

It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/bring-the-bnei-menashe-home-to-israel/2011/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: