Nine couples of the Bnei Menashe community were wedded under Jewish law Wednesday in a joint ceremony at an absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, near Haifa.
The couples all arrived in Israel from northeastern India last month as part of a group of 162 immigrants, with the help of Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that seeks to connect “lost” and “hidden” Jews to the Jewish state.
“After realizing their dream of making aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, these nine Bnei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate,” said Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund.
“They have now been remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony which symbolizes the new lives they are building here in the Jewish state. We wish them a hearty Mazel Tov and much joy, health and success here in Israel.”
Yehudit Touthang, 45, said “We are so excited and happy to be getting married in the Promised Land after waiting for more than 25 years to make it here with the eight other couples.”
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.