Lost tribe’s immigration to resume after five years
The Times of Israel: The government has quietly decided to approve, after a five-year hiatus, continued immigration of the Bnei Menashe, a tribal group based in north-eastern India and in Burma that claims descent from the lost tribe of Menashe.
On Tuesday, Army Radio reported that a flight of 274 new immigrants is scheduled to arrive within a few weeks.
About 1,700 members of the tribe already reside in the country, mostly in West Bank settlements, especially in Kiryat Arba. There are an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 Bnei Menashe remaining in India and Burma. In 2005, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that the tribe had Jewish roots but members must still undergo a conversion process to be eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return.
Introduction to the Bnei Menashe
In 2007, immigration was effectively halted by a change in government policy, which required issues of mass immigration and conversion to be approved by cabinet decision, instead of just the Interior Ministry.
MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), who was interior minister in 2007, and who opposes renewed immigration for the community, said Tuesday that it endangered the Jewish identity of the state.