Thousands of members of the Bnei Menashe community from across northeastern India gathered on Tuesday night to light candles for the first night of Hanukkah.
“The story of the Maccabees’ heroic determination to preserve their Jewish identity resonates strongly with the Bnei Menashe, who – against all odds and with tremendous effort – have managed to cling to their faith and that of their ancestors through the centuries,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Even in far-off India, the flame of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly.”
Freund added: “We pray that this will be the last Hanukkah they celebrate in India. Next year in Israel!”
The Bnei Menashe are descendants 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. Some 3,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) over the past 15 years, including more than 250 this year. Another 7,000 Bnei Menashe remain in India waiting for the chance to return home.