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CNSNews.com is reporting that a “lost Jewish tribe” in India is soon to return to Israel.
More than 200 members of a “lost” Jewish tribe are set to immigrate to Israel next month from northeastern India in what some here say is nothing less than a miracle of biblical proportions.
“This is a project of national and historical and even theological significance,” said Michael Freund, chairman and founder of Shavei Israel, an organization that helps communities around the world return to their Jewish roots and to Israel.
He said the Bnei Menashe (children of Manasseh) were descendants of one of the 10 “lost tribes” of Israel.
“Their ancestors were exiled from the land 27 centuries ago, and despite wandering for so long and so far, they managed to preserve their sense of Jewish identity and now, just as the prophets foretold, we are witnessing their return. It is a miracle.”
Nearly 1,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel in a mere trickle through various conversion/immigration plans worked out over the last 15 years or so. Another 218 are scheduled to arrive in November. But there are 7,000 more still waiting to come to Israel.
The community in India always referred to themselves as Bnei Menashe (the children of Manasseh) and it was a central theme in all their ancient prayers and chants, Freund told Cybercast News Service.
According to their tradition, they spent several centuries in China until a despotic emperor persecuted them and seized their holy book. They then settled in India, Freund said.
Despite their compelling stories, immigration to Israel for the Bnei Menashe has been fraught with religious and bureaucratic stumbling blocs.
A breakthrough came in March 2005 when Israel’s Chief Rabbinate recognized the Bnei Menashe as descendents of the Jewish people.
The hurdles remained, however.
“In order to remove any question marks about their status, the chief rabbi decided that it would be best for them to undergo a process of conversion. And in practice what that means is no-one then can question their status as Jews,” said Freund.
“The Jewish people are all over the world. So each and every one has a part to play for the development of the State of Israel. It is a kind of a redemption process. The ingathering is starting now. It will take time but slowly, slowly [it will happen],” he said.
Could this be a fulfilling of prophecy?