Indian Jews from 'lost tribe' of Bnei Menashe arrive in Israel
An Israeli chief rabbi recognized them as a lost tribe in 2005 and about 1,700 moved to Israel before the government stopped giving them visas; now that Israel has reversed that policy, 7,200 more are expected to immigrate.
Dozens more Jews who are believed to be the descendants of a lost biblical Jewish tribe immigrated to Israel on Monday from their village in northeastern India.
The Bnei Menashe say they are descended from Jews banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century B.C. An Israeli chief rabbi recognized them as a lost tribe in 2005 and about 1,700 moved to Israel before the government stopped giving them visas.
Israel recently reversed that policy, agreeing to let the remaining 7,200 Bnei Menashe immigrate. Fifty-three arrived on Monday.
Nearly 300 more members of the community will arrive in the coming weeks, said Michael Freund, of the non-profit organization Shavei Israel, and an activist on their behalf.
The community, which lives in India's northeastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram have been practicing Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity.
"After waiting for thousands of years, our dream came true," said 26-year-old Lhing Lenchonz, who arrived with her husband and 8-month-old daughter.