JTA – One hundred and two members of the Jewish community in India, who trace their heritage to one of Israel’s lost tribes, are moving to Israel this week.
The immigrants, who hail from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram — home to the second largest concentration of the country’s Bnei Menashe community, as they are called — will arrive in Israel on Tuesday and Thursday. The move is being facilitated by Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that seeks to connect “lost” and “hidden” Jews to the Jewish state.
The group plans to live in the city of Nazareth Illit, where other members of their community have already settled. Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in recent years, with another 7,000 remaining in India.
Their move represents the first time in three years that members of the Bnei Menashe community from Mizoram have moved to Israel, according to a statement by Shavei Israel.
“After 27 centuries of exile, this lost tribe of Israel is truly coming home,” said Shavei Israel founder Michael Freund. “But we will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make aliyah as well.”
Freund, a conservative writer and former aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said his organization was hoping to bring more than 700 Jews from India to Israel this year.
In December, as they have in years past, thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe community gathered to celebrate Hanukkah in the town of Churachandpur, in the northeastern state of Manipur.