Churachandpur, India, April 24 – More than 1,500 members of the Bnei Menashe community from across northeastern India gathered today in the town of Churachandpur in the Indian state of Manipur to celebrate Israel’s 67th Independence Day. The special event, which was held at the B. Vengnom Community Hall, featured the theme “Next Year in Jerusalem,” and included prayers for the Jewish State and the Israel Defense Forces as well as the ceremonial raising of the Israeli flag. The Bnei Menashe participants sang the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah” and read Psalm 126, which expresses their longing for Zion.
Shavei Israeli Founder and President Michael Freund said that the ceremony embodies the hopes of the Bnei Menashe to move to Israel. “The Bnei Menashe love and support the State of Israel, and yearn to make Aliya,” Freund said. “With profound optimism and hope they celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in Manipur, but we join them in praying that next year they will do so in Jerusalem!”
The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have thus far made Aliyah and another 7,000 are still in India.