Indian quake rattles ‘lost tribe’ of Bnei Menashe Jews

Indian quake rattles ‘lost tribe’ of Bnei Menashe Jews

Tremor of 6.7 magnitude that killed nine also causes damage to homes, property of Jewish community in Manipur

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Damage caused by a 6.7-magnitude earthquake in the northeastern Manipur state of India, which is home to the Bnei Menashe community. (Shavei Israel)
Damage caused by a 6.7-magnitude earthquake in the northeastern Manipur state of India, which is home to the Bnei Menashe community. (Shavei Israel)

An earthquake that struck northeastern India on Monday, killing at least nine people, also caused widespread damage to the Bnei Menashe community, a group believing itself to be descended from the ancient lost Israelite tribe of Menashe, community leaders said.

More than 90 people were injured in the 6.7-magnitude quake that hit the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.

The Shavei Israel organization, which aims to build ties between Israel, established Jewish communities, and far-flung groups that claim Jewish descent, immediately launched an emergency relief fund to help the Bnei Menashe community.

Local Shavei Israel representative Tzvi Khaute, who is a member of the Bnei Menashe, described how the tremor rattled the area.

“The earthquake struck early in the morning and buildings shook violently,” Khaute said. “Thank God no one among the Bnei Menashe was injured or killed. There is, however, extensive damage from the quake.”

Shavei Israel head Michael Freund said his group was in touch with the Bnei Menashe.

“We are in touch with the leaders of the Bnei Menashe community throughout northeastern India,” Freund said. “Miraculously no one in the community was harmed, but we are concerned by reports of damage to homes and property.”

The Bnei Menashe believe they are descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes, Jewish exiles from the Holy Land 2,700 years ago.

Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have immigrated to Israel, though they are required to undergo conversion to Judaism upon arriving in the country.

Another 7,000 remain behind in India, of whom 700 are waiting for approval from Israeli authorities to move to the Jewish state, Freund said.

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