Israel allows 899 Indian Jews to immigrate
Jerusalem: Israel has allowed 899 Indian Jews from Manipur and Mizoram, the members of the "lost" Bnei Menashe tribe, to immigrate to the Jewish state.
The cabinet last week decided to allow the immigration of the Indian Bnei Menashe community to Israel in multiple groups with the first batch expected by the end of the year.
Bnei Menashe (literally sons of Menashe), a group of indigenous people from north-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram, trace their roots in one of the ten "lost tribes" of Jews exiled by the Assyrian regime over 2,700 years ago.
Hundreds of Bnei Menashe are already living in Israel, having made aliyah (immigration) with the help of an NGO, Shavei Israel, dedicated to bringing "lost Jews" around the world to Israel.
Michael Freund, the founder and chairman of the Shavei Israel organization that lobbied for their aliya, said he wishes to see the entire community come to Israel soon.
"Our goal is to bring all the remaining members of the Bnei Menashe community here to Israel as quickly as possible," he was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post today.
Freund said the cabinet's decision will allow 200 Bnei Menashe people to be brought to Israel by the end of the year, 400 in 2014 and another 300 in 2015.
All of the immigrants will be housed in a private absorption center run by Shavei Israel and will then be settled around the country.
Their immigration to Israel was facilitated by the ruling of the former chief Sephardic Rabbi in 2005 who declared them descendants of Israel amid intense debate over their Jewish ancestry.
Some 274 members of the northeastern Indian Jews arrived in Israel earlier this year.