Israel’s interior minister on Thursday said he’d adopt a “liberal policy” to enable greater immigration and conversion of Bnei Menashe and Falasmura from India and Ethiopia, respectively.
Speaking to Haaretz at a ceremony marking the arrival of 80 new Bnei Menashe immigrants from northeast India, Silvan Shalom expressed “immense excitement” at welcoming the new arrivals.
“They’re returning here to the land of Israel after thousands of years, they’re also returning to Judaism, they’re reconnecting with the people of Israel and I will tackle this issue with the most liberal policy there is to bring people from everywhere around the world where people want to arrive,” Shalom said.
“I know that in the past there was a lot of opposition to bringing them here,” he said, referring to the disputed Jewish heritage of groups such as the Bnei Menashe, “but I will adopt a completely different policy.”
Over 3,000 members of the Bnei Menashe group, who claim Jewish roots but are not Jewish according to halacha, have immigrated to Israel thus far.
The mass aliyah of the community was put on ice for a number of years before being restarted in 2013. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe live in India, according to Shavei Israel, an organization working to promote immigration.