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Bnei Menashe stuck in India one week closer to home in Israel

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Posted on: 
11 Jun 2021
Bnei Menashe stuck in India one week closer to home in Israel

Last week we reported about 115 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India who were on their way to Israel but were stopped in transit in New Delhi after a number tested positive for coronavirus. Thankfully, we can now update you that many donors responded to the ICEJ’s urgent appeal for help with housing, feeding and caring for these families until they can finally leave for Israel.

The group was among the 275 Bnei Menashe immigrants who were scheduled to board a specially chartered emergency flight for Israel last week arranged by The Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy. We were grateful that 160 of those new immigrants managed to arrive in Israel on time, with 99 sponsored by the ICEJ. Unfortunately, this joyful moment was dampened by the news that the other 115 Bnei Menashe were held back after several dozen tested positive for COVID-19, thereby delaying their homecoming.

It has been a difficult experience as they were all so eager to reach Israel after 27 centuries of exile from their ancestral homeland. They had already been approved for immigration, and many had closed their businesses and sold their homes in anticipation of the move. But suddenly, they were stopped and placed in quarantine, and told they would have to remain there until Indian and Israeli health authorities agree it is safe for them to travel on to Tel Aviv.

"It's like a one-time opportunity, a golden opportunity to get such a chance", one of the Bnei Menashe told a local Indian newspaper.

They had no means to pay all the costs of their housing, food and medical care, and thus were totally dependent on the mercy and generosity of others. This was a dilemma we could not ignore. And thanks to everyone who responded, the ICEJ was able to cover the expenses for their first week of staying in New Delhi. And we are hopeful that we can continue to help meet this urgent need for another week or so, until they are able to complete their journey home to Israel with a good bill of health.

Since Israel allowed the resumption of the Bnei Menashe Aliyah in 2012 over 2,400 have arrived in the second wave and almost half of them have been sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

But the Bnei Menashe community has approximately 6,000 members still living mainly in Manipur and Mizoram, in northeast India. They were officially recognized as “sons of Israel” in April 2005, when [Ashkenazi] Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that the Bnei Menashe come from Manasseh, one of the ‘lost tribes’ exiled from the northern kingdom of Israel some 2700 years ago.

Our support for the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to gather the Jewish people back in the historic Land of Israel, and in this particular case to “bring your descendants from the east” (Isaiah 43:5).

So let us who have begun this good deed complete it to the end. Give your best gift today to support the journey home of this ancient tribe of Israel.



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