December 16, 2020
Bnei Menashe arriving in Israel. (Eleonora Shiluv)
After many years of waiting, hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community of India are to make Aliyah in a special operation, and will arrive in Israel this Tuesday morning.
Israel's Minister of Aliyah and Absorption, MK Penina Tamano-Shatta stated: "I am delighted to have the honor of bringing members of the Bnei Menashe community to Israel, after many years of waiting. This follows the unanimous approval of a special government decision that I promoted for the immediate Aliyah of around 250 new Olim."
The new arrivals hail from north-east India, where they have preserved their Jewish traditions for generations. The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, supported MK Tamano-Shatta's proposal to bring them to the country, as did the Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, and the Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi.
MK Tamano-Shatta also noted that, "The Bnei Menashe community is close to my heart. Upon assuming the position of Minister, I made expediting the Aliyah of the Bnei Menashe community a top priority. I will continue to act on behalf of the Bnei Menashe community to ensure and expedite the Aliyah of the remaining members of the community in India. We are blessed to see their arrival to Israel during the festival of Hanukkah — this is a tremendous source of light for us all. We will accompany and help all the Olim throughout their process of absorption and we will do everything we can to support their successful integration into Israeli society."
The momentous Aliyah of hundreds of members of the Bnei Menashe community follows months of preparation spearheaded by the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, in collaboration with the Shavei Israel organization.
Michael Freund, founder and chairperson of Shavei Israel, stated: "As we celebrate the festival of Hanukkah and the miracle of the flask of oil, the Aliyah of the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe after 2,700 years of exile is itself a modern-day Hanukkah miracle and for that we thank Minister Tamano-Shatta. The story of this unique community that maintained its connection to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel throughout the generations is powerful and inspiring and I fervently hope that we will soon see all the remaining Bnei Menashe make Aliyah as well."
Among the hundreds of Olim who will be arriving in Israel are some 50 families and 24 single individuals, four infants under the age of two, 39 children aged between 2 and 12, and 19 seniors aged 62 years or above. The Olim will undergo a quick absorption process at the airport, and from there they will be sent into quarantine according to Ministry of Health restrictions, under the supervision of the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption and the Home Front Command.
Since 2003, 2,437 members of the Bnei Menashe community have made Aliyah, although only 24 members of the community made Aliyah in 2019. Tomorrow, 252 more Olim from the Bnei Menashe community will have the opportunity to fulfill the Zionist dream and build their homes in Israel.