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Indian kickboxing champ moving to Israel, plans to represent his new home

Obed Hrangchal, 26, who won national martial arts medals in India, is a religiously observant member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community

Kickboxing champ Obed Hrangchal won national medals in India in several martial arts before moving to Israel. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel/via JTA)
Kickboxing champ Obed Hrangchal won national medals in India in several martial arts before moving to Israel. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel/via JTA)

JTA — A mixed martial arts and kickboxing champion from India is moving to Israel, and he plans to represent the Jewish state in international competitions.

Obed Hrangchal, 26, who has won national medals in India in several martial arts, is religiously observant and a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community. He is set to immigrate with his parents and sister right after the High Holidays.

“I have always dreamt of making aliya to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so,” he said in a statement released by Shavei Israel, an organization that helps lost communities of Jews or descendants of Jews to rediscover their roots and come to Israel.

Hrangchal said in the statement that he plans to serve in the Israeli army.

A girl belonging to the Bnei Menashe Jewish community arrives at Ben Gurion airport in 2017. (Laura Ben-David)

He and his family were the only Jews in the village of Thinghlun, in the state of Mizoram, before selling their home and farmland in 2013 to move to the capital city of Aizawl while awaiting the opportunity to immigrate to Israel.

The Bnei Menashe believe they are descended from the biblical tribe of Manasseh, one of the 10 Israelite tribes the Bible lists as having been exiled from the northern kingdom of Israel by the conquering Assyrians some 2,700 years ago. In 2005, then-Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar endorsed the Bnei Menashe’s claim to Jewish ancestry, but required them to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

More than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliya in the past two decades. Another 6,500 remain in India but want to move to Israel.

At a meeting in August, Israel’s Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, told Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund that she was moving ahead with approving the immigration of 722 members of the Bnei Menashe community, including Hrangchal and his family.

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