“Operation Menashe 2017” reached a high point Thursday morning when 162 members of the “lost” tribe of Bnei Menashe arrived in Israel.
A special welcoming ceremony featuring Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri, Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund, and Deputy Minister of Finance Yitzhak Cohen received the new olim (immigrants).
“I promise that we will make all of you feel at home. Our heart is big enough and has room for each of you. When a Jew meets a Jew, there is an immediate connection,” said Deri. “I promise you that the Interior Ministry, under my leadership, will do everything it can to help every Jew – wherever he is in the world – get the appropriate approvals so they can make aliyah to Israel.”
The Bnei Menashe, descendants of the tribe of Menasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, will make their new homes in Tiberias, Israel. They came to Israel thanks to the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel, which has made the dream of aliyah possible for over 3,000 Bnei Menashe over the last 15 years and plans to bring more members of the community to Israel. Currently there are 7,000 Bnei Menashe awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland.
After the welcoming ceremony, the members of the Lost Tribe gathered at the airport for an emotional reunion with family members already living in Israel. One such reunion included the Lhouvum family. Janglhai Lhouvum, 77, one of the new olim, cried with joy after reuniting with her daughter, son and four grandchildren, whom she hadn’t seen since they made aliyah in 1997.
“This is an exciting day for all of us,” said Freund. “After spending time at the Shavei Israel Absorption Center, the Bnei Menashe immigrants will settle in Tiberias, where they will begin to build their new lives here in the Jewish State. We will do everything we can to ensure that their integration into Israeli society goes as smoothly as possible. More than 2,700 years after their ancestors were exiled from the Land, the Bnei Menashe are at last returning home to Zion.”