Bnei Menashe in India celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut

The Shining Kidz sing Hatikvah Photo by Yochanan Phaltual, courtesy of Shavei Israel

The Shining Kidz sing Hatikvah
Photo by Yochanan Phaltual, courtesy of Shavei Israel

More than 1,200 members from the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) and the resumption of their aliyah to Israel on April 17 with a festive celebration in the town of Churachandpur, India – in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.

The gathering, which was sponsored and organized by the Shavei Israel organization, was the largest in the Bnei Menashe community’s history, according to a press release. Just last October, the Israeli government lifted a five-year ban on the Aliyah of Bnei Menashe in a unanimous decision. Since then, more than 270 Bnei Menashe have been brought on Aliyah by Shavei Israel.

The Patlen Cultural troupe performs at the festival.  Photo by Yochanan Phaltual, courtesy of Shavei Israel

The Patlen Cultural troupe performs at the festival.
Photo by Yochanan Phaltual, courtesy of Shavei Israel

“This Yom Ha’atzmaut is particularly poignant for the Bnei Menashe,” Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund said. “With the resumption of the aliyah from India, the community’s dream of returning to the land of their ancestors is finally coming to fruition. In the coming months, with G-d’s help, we aim to bring another 900 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion,” Freund added.

“There has never been such a joyous event like this before in our community. We are celebrating in spirit with our Bnei Menashe brothers and sisters who have already made aliyah to Israel in hopes that we will be joining them very soon,” said Yochanon Phaltual, a Bnei Menashe member who organized the event. “To celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with the realistic hope of making aliyah soon fills my heart with joy. I was especially moved when we all stood up and sang Hatikvah. That was a very special moment for me and I really hope that we can all sing it together next year in Jerusalem.”

About Bnei Menashe:

The Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for “sons of Manasseh”) are descended 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 primarily 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.

 

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