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May 23, 2014 3:07 pm

Bnei Menashe Couple Reunite Upon Arrival in Israel After 7 Years Apart

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Bnei Menashe community members praying in India. Photo: Screenshot / Dawn.com

Bnei Menashe community members praying in India. Photo: Screenshot / Dawn.com

Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport was the site of a heartwarming reunion on Thursday as 40 Bnei Menashe Jews from Manipur, India, including a young woman reuniting with her fiance after seven years, immigrated to the Jewish state.

A total of 250 Bnei Jews are expected to arrive in Israel this month to make Aliyah, Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, the group that has been at the forefront of bringing Israel’s Lost Tribes to the Jewish state, told journalists at the airport, CNN-India Broadcasting Network reported on Friday.

Among the olim was Edna, finally reunited with fiance Gamliel, who had migrated to Israel in 2007, shortly before a freeze was placed on the community’s immigration.

“Her reunion with Gamliel is the first time they have seen each other in seven years. They were both very emotional,” Freund said. “As he stood with her, [Gamliel] said to me he felt like the forefather Jacob who waited so long to marry Rachel.”

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India’s Bnei Menashe are considered to be descendants of the tribe of Menashe, or Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel which were exiled by the Assyrian empire after the death of King Solomon. In 2005, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recognized the Bnei Menashe as descendants of Menashe, opening the door to their immigration to Israel.

The immigration of the Bnei Menashe restarted in 2012 after Freund, who once served as an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, persuaded the government to resume the program.

In October 2013, his group received permission from the government to help bring 900 of the lost Jews to Israel by 2015. Earlier this year, the organisation brought 160 members of the Bnei Menashe community from Mizoram.

Among others overjoyed after being reunited on Thursday, Freund said a grandfather, who arrived with the group, met his four Israeli grandchildren, while a brother and sister embraced after a long 21 years apart.

“So it was just an incredibly powerful experience, and it was a tangible reminder of the miracle that is the State of Israel,” Freund said.

More than 2,200 members of the Bnei Menashe community today live in Israel, while some 7,000 are still in Manipur and Mizoram waiting to immigrate to the Promised Land, CNN-IBN reported.

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