Over the past few weeks an influx of aliyah [immigration to Israel] has taken place, fulfilling an ancient biblical prophecy.
For the lost tribe of the Bnei Menashe in India, the wait to return home to Zion has been a story 2,700 years in the making that is finally reaching its happy ending and creating a new beginning for the immigrants who are set to make a new life in Israel.
Last week, 43 member of the Bnei Menashe, believed to be descendants of the biblical lost tribe of Menashe which had been expelled during the reign of Sennacherib (705-681 BCE), immigrated to Israel from India. The community of the Bnei Menashe have kept alive their traditions and holidays since their expulsion and have never forgot their heritage or lost their identity despite numerous persecutions and communal upheavals.
However, this dream would not have been possible without the team-work and partnership created between Israel Returns, an organization devoted to helping fulfill the ingathering of the exiles and identify the lost tribes of Israel, and two Christian organizations, Bridges for Peace, and the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ).
“Bridges for Peace has contributed significantly to help cover absorption costs of the Bnei Menashe. The organization has donated funds and everyday tangible items like appliances and beds for the Bnei Menashe, and we say thank you to them for their contribution that helps to make this possible” said Chairman of Israel Returns Michael Freund.
Freund pointed out that the significance of the partnership between Christian and Jewish organizations is what has made the recent wave of immigration possible.
“It is a great blessing for us to see how Christians are involved in the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Fifty or one hundred years ago such a thing would have been unattainable,” Freund told Breaking Israel News. “It is a sign of the times that we are living in that Jews and Christians are partnering together to facilitate the return to Zion. This is prophecy unfolding before our eyes.”
With this most recent influx, over 250 members of the community have immigrated to Israel in the past month, reuniting with loved ones and members of the community who immigrated previously. This past year, 410 Bnei Menashe in total returned to Zion and another several hundred group are expected in the fall.
Freund, who has made the return of displaced Jews from around the world to Israel his life’s work, expressed his gratitude to the christian partners who helped facilitate this wave of immigration.
“We are very grateful to Christian organizations such as Bridges for Peace and the ICEJ who have raised us up in prayer and provided funding towards the immigration and absorption of the Bnei Menashe. Their assistance is the fuel that keeps the engine of aliyah going,” he explained.
Becky Brimmer, the International President and CEO of Bridges for Peace, spoke to Breaking Israel News about the ground-breaking work and importance of Israel Returns.
“We have been working to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews for many years now, and one of the ways we decided to do that was by helping Jews fulfill the biblical prophecy and commandment of settling the land of Israel,” Brimmer explained.
Bridges for Peace, whose headquarters is located in Israel, is an international organization that is dedicated to raising awareness about Israel amongst Christians around the world, and to improve relations between Christians and Jews.
“We would like to break the cycle of negative action between Christians and Jews, and we would like to see the day when Christians and Jews can work together and live together in peace. We see this effort as part of that goal,” Brimmer said about the organizations efforts.
“We have known Michael Freund since the time he worked under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government, and we have been helping Israel Returns for the past four years. Once Michael told us what he was planning I decided that we need to be financially involved with this, as it is fulfilling biblical prophecy in our time. It is quite amazing to hear that people who consider themselves one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Menashe is coming back to Israel, that is not something you see everyday.”
Brimmer took part in the most recent welcoming ceremony of the Bnei Menashe, meeting them at the airport as they got off the plane and into Zion for the first time.
“It was very moving,” said Brimmer. “To hear the names of their children all named after places in Israel or people from the Bible. How can it be that people so disconnected for so long have such a strong connection? To see them kissing a giant mezuzah at the airport and falling on the necks of their loved ones who had already made the trip and whom they had been separated from was incredibly emotional. It gives a real sense of destiny and taking part in something much bigger than one’s self, and I am happy that both I and Bridges for Peace were able to participate.”
In addition to financially partnering with Israel Returns to facilitate the immigration,Bridges for Peace provides food via kosher food banks to many communities of immigrants primarily in the north of Israel, as well as providing the Bnei Menashe with pots and pans, bedding and other household items that they may need once they move out of their temporary residences into more permanent.
David Parsons from the ICEJ, the second Christian organization that partnered with Israel Returns, explained to Breaking Israel News the reason why his organization has been so dedicated to helping Jews from all over the world, and in specific the Bnei Menashe, to immigrate to Israel.
“We believe in the Jewish return to the Land of Israel, as God keeping his promise for the Jews to return to the land. The passages in Isaiah 49, which mentions gentiles helping Jews return to the land of Israel, is very real for us. We are fulfilling a prophecy in a positive way, and we are trying to change Christian-Jewish relations,” Parsons said.
“We are happy to sponsor the Bnei Menashe in any way we can. We are expecting another 500 Bnei Menashe by the end of the year and we are very excited about it,” he added.
There are still approximately 7,000 members of the community in India, centralized around major cities like Manipur and Mizoram, awaiting their chance to fulfill their dreams of one day making Israel their home.
“Israel Returns hopes to bring another 500 Bnei Menashe to Israel by the end of the year but,” Freud added a caveat, “that is entirely dependent on available funding. If we are able to raise the necessary funds then we can bring them home. If not, then we can’t.”
Freund called upon Jews and Christians worldwide to help fulfill the biblical prophecy of all Jews one day returning to Zion. “Join us in this endeavor and help us bring this miracle about by supporting the aliyah of the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe from India to Israel.”
To learn how you can help the Lost Tribes return to Israel, click here.