On November 11th, Ben Gurion airport was the scene of a prophecy taking place. 250 Jews from Bnei Menashe returned to Israel, in fulfillment of God’s promise that “Thy children shall return to their own border.”
Bnei Menashe, descendants of the lost tribe of Menashe, come from North East India where they were exiled from Israel by in 721 B.C.E. Over the past 30 years, the group has rediscovered their ancestry and have begun practicing Judaism.
After many years of dreaming to return to Israel, this past year Israel Returns, an organization that reaches out to lost and hidden Jews, has brought over 650 members of Bnei Menashe on aliyah. On this flight alone, 250 new immigrants joined their family upon their return to the land.
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky and Member of Knesset Nissan Slomiansky greeted the new immigrants upon their arrival. At the airport was also Michael Freund, founder and Chairman of Israel Returns. In an address to the group, Michael explained “After 2,700 years you have come to the land of your ancestors. You are about to fulfill the commandment of yishuv eretz yisrael (returning to the land of Israel.”
Yeshivat Ashreinu, a post high school program for American students, attended the welcoming of Bnei Menashe to Israel as well. With guitars, singing and dancing they greeted their brothers with joy.
In a quote from an interview, Rabbi Morrie Wrubble of Yeshivat Ashreinu, exclaimed “I felt I was watching history taking place and witnessing a miracle of Jewish return to the land of israel.” Rabbi Wrubble went on to say that “they have sacrificed a lot more to come here and I think it’s up to the rest of us to learn from them, to realize that we can finally bring everyone home and bring the Messiah.”
Dovit Oretz, also from Yeshivat Ashreinu, explained what it was like to witness the arrival of the new immigrants. “Three times a day I pray about the gathering of exiles and to actually see it in real life really puts meaning to the words that I say everyday.”
After their landing, the new group of Bnei Menashe immigrants were taken to absorption centers established especially for them by Israel Returns. Later, they will settle in northern communities in Israel and will join their family members who have already immigrated this past year.