Photo Credit: Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel
Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot.

Like many Jews around the world, the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India is gathering to celebrate Sukkot this week.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe offered a special plea, to fulfill their age-old dream to make Aliyah to Israel during the coming year.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel
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“Even in the farthest reaches of northeastern India, the Bnei Menashe have continued to uphold the ancient tradition of building Sukkot in honor of the festival,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman, Michael Freund. “We fervently hope that next year, they will be able to do so in Israel.”

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors had done, including observing Shabbat, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals, and following the laws of family purity.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

They continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

Bnei Menashe communities of Manipur and Mizoram, in northeastern India, preparing for Sukkot. / Shlomo Kipgen, courtesy of Shavei Israel

So far, Shavei Israel has made the dream of Aliyah possible for more than 4,500 Bnei Menashe and plans to help bring more members of the community to Israel. Currently, 6,000 Bnei Menashe are awaiting their return to the Jewish homeland.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.