10 couples from “lost tribe” Bnei Menashe, all of whom immigrated to Israel from Mizoram, India, married at Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim on Sunday.
The couples remarriage ceremony was part of their formal conversion to Judaism. The group, age from their 20s to their 70s, were among 102 new immigrants who arrived in Israel in late February. Their aliyah was facilitated by the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel, which tries to find lost Jews throughout the world.
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The Bnei Menashe (sons of Manasseh) are believed to be descended of the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire.
Their ancestors 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.
Throughout the time, Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity. And they continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.
“After realizing their dream of making Aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, the 10 Bnei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate,” said Shavei Israel Founder and 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.”
So far, some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made Aliyah, including more than 1,100 in the past four years. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home to Zion.