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'Lost Jews' from northeastern India wants to migrate to Israel
Bnei Menashe, descended from the Menasseh tribe, who departed Israel in the eighth century B.C. want to return back to Israel.

A tribe in northeastern India claims they are the descendants of a lost tribe in Israel and want to migrate to Israel. 

Currently domiciled in Manipur, it claims that it belong to a group called Bnei Menashe, who traces their ancestry to one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. 

Jeremiah Hangsingh, nicknamed "Pau," is one of the Manipuri Jews who dreams of migrating to Israel. His family, including father Abel and mother Sharon, follow Judaism devoutly. 

The Bnei Menashe - comprising the Kuki-Mizo-Chin tribes of northeastern India -- think they are descended from the Menasseh tribe, who departed Israel in the eighth century B.C. 

The tribe reportedly migrated eastward along the Silk Route for centuries before ending up in the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram, the reported. 

Stephen Epstein, writing in, noted that "evidence of their Jewish roots is very strong, with customs such as performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth, honoring levirate (where the brother of a dead man must marry his brother's widow) marriages, offering sacrifices on altars and wearing shawls that resemble the Talit (prayer shawl)."

For the Kuki, Judaism holds much appeal as a haven for outcasts. "It is a dream come true," said a Kuki man named David. "This [Manipur] is not the land that we belong to. We are not a part of India. We want to connect to Israel. We want to return," quoted him as saying.

Under Israel's "Law of Return," anyone who can prove they are Jewish can migrate to Israel (aliyah) and settle there with full citizenship.

The report citing Al-Jazeera data said that about 7,000 Bnei Menashe currently reside in India, while about 2,000 have already settled in Israel. 

An Israeli nonprofit group called Shavei Israel has helped hundreds of Jews from India move to Israel over the past few years. This year, about 900 of them will receive Israeli citizenship. Last month, another 160 Jews from Mizoram, arrived in Israel, the report said. 

In 2005, Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi, Shlomo Amar, recognized the Bnei Menashe as true descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, allowing for their lawful transit.

Source: India Today
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