Photo courtesy Shavei Israel
Special to Israel InSight
Churachandpur, Northeastern India — In celebration of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, children of the Bnei Menashe community from Churachandpur in the Indian state of Manipur marched through the streets with blue and white flags. Thus far, more than 5,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliya to Israel in the past two decades, thanks largely to the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel. Another 5,000 remain in India, all of whom wish to make their home in the Jewish state.
“Each year, members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeastern India celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with a mixture of excitement and pride as they pray that they will soon be able to make Aliyah to the country they love so much,” said Rabbi Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. Throughout their exile, the Bnei Menashe 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. They have always nourished the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.