The Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India will celebrate Sukkot this year thanks to the support of the Shavei Israel organization, which sent hundreds of sets of Lulavim and Etrogim from Israel to India prior to the onset of the holiday.
In their festival prayers, the Bnei Menashe will turn to face Jerusalem and offer a special plea to finally be allowed to make aliyah during the coming year.
About Bnei Menashe: The Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for “sons of Manasseh”) claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. They live in India’s northeastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram.
Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh. Throughout their exile, the Bnei Menashe nonetheless continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel. In recent years, “Shavei Israel” has brought some 1,700 Bnei Menashe back home, including 450 in the past three years who settled in the Upper Galilee. Around 7,300 still remain in India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel and the Jewish people.
image: Bnei Menashe children Yehudah Baite, 11, and Barukh El Baite, 8, in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur; courtesy Yochanan Phaltual.