Members of two “lost tribes” — 162 people from India’s Bnei Menashe and 69 from Ethiopia — arrived in Israel Thursday to reunite with family members and make new lives in the country.
Some 1,700 Bnei Menashe have settled in Israel over the past 15 years, with a further 7,000 waiting to immigrate.
The Bnei Menashe are Indians who claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
They say their ancestors were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago, after which they 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.
Warms the heart. So beautiful to be greeted like this.
The latest arrival of Ethiopian Jews — reputedly descendants of the Tribe of Dan — coincided with the two-year anniversary of a yet to be fully implemented government decision to bring the remaining Jews in that country to Israel.
Among those greeting the new arrivals at the airport were Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen, and Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening ties with descendants of Jews around the world.
The children will begin school in the next few days while the adults will start intensive Hebrew language lessons.