ICEJ: Bnei Menashe

Delayed Group of Bnei Menashe Reach Israel

By Anastasiya Gooding, ICEJ Staff Writer

ICEJ: Bnei Menasher

A group of 114 Bnei Menashe who were stuck in transit for the past month in New Delhi due to some having coronavirus finally landed in Israel on Sunday as part of an emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem serving as a main sponsor of this urgent Aliyah operation. In total, the ICEJ sponsored flights for 131 out of the 274 Bnei Menashe who were brought to Israel over the past month. We also covered the delayed group’s housing and meals for about one-third of their four-week stay in New Delhi.

The arrival of new olim to Israel is always a very touching and emotional event. Batya Misao, along with her four children, were among the 114 immigrants who arrived in Israel on Sunday night. The Aliyah story of this Israelite family is nothing short of a heart-rending journey.

Batya has been dreaming about making Aliyah to Israel for as long as she can remember. Once she married her husband Samuel and they started a family, the dream grew to include their children – twelve-year-old Ellan, nine-year-old Leah, five-year-old Zohar, and three-year-old Nuriah.

It is difficult to imagine what a blow this family experienced as they were full of bright hopes when tragedy struck last year. Samuel died in a devastating car accident. After that, it seemed that all of Batya’s plans, her hopes and dreams, had collapsed overnight.

However, Batya managed to put the pieces of their life back together. As a single mother now, she always kept a positive attitude, still waiting for the day when she could bring her family to Israel to fulfill their dream, carrying the memory of her husband Samuel home with her to Zion. She knew that even in the midst of darkness, there is always room for a ray of hope.

Due to a major surge in coronavirus deaths and infections in India, the Israeli government decided earlier this year to speed up the Aliyah process for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India already approved to immigrate to Israel. Descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh, half the group were about to make their dream come true, including Batya and her children. A specially chartered flight was arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy, to bring the first 274 of the pre-approved group in an emergency airlift in May.

But right before they were about to depart on the final leg from New Dehli, about three dozen people in the group tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to stay behind, along with their families. This meant the Misao family had to wait not knowing when they could finally reach Israel. It ended up another 27 long days and nights of waiting before everyone recovered and the entire group could fly on to their desired destination. Thankfully, the ICEJ stepped in to assist with their urgent need for help with housing, food, and care for these families until they could finally leave for Israel.

What a joy for the Misao family to finally be back in the land of their ancestors after 27 centuries in exile and an extra four weeks in New Delhi.

The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” claim descent from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Their ancestors were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian Empire some 27 centuries ago and wandered throughout the East until they reached what is now northeast India, between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Despite their wanderings and isolation, they kept their ancient traditions alive, such as honoring Shabbat and refusing to eat pork. Most of all, they kept alive their dream of one day returning to the Land of their forefathers.

The next airlift of the second group of 274 Bnei Menashe is expected in early September, so please join with us in helping with their prophetic return to Israel. Give generously today to the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!