'Lost Tribe' of India Jews Return to Israel

Bnei Menashe say they were banished in 8th century BC

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 24, 2012 12:32 PM CST

(Newser) – Dozens of Jews who claim to be the descendants of a lost biblical Jewish tribe have emigrated to Israel from their village in northeastern India. The Bnei Menashe say they are descended from Jews banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century BC. An Israeli chief rabbi recognized them as a lost tribe in 2005 and about 1,700 moved to Israel before the government stopped giving them visas.

Israel recently reversed that policy, agreeing to let the remaining 7,200 Bnei Menashe immigrate. Fifty-three arrived today. Nearly 300 others are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Twenty-six-year-old Lhing Lenchonz arrived with her husband and 8-month-old daughter. She said that "after waiting for thousands of years, our dream came true."

Relatives bid farewell as a Bnei Menashe Jewish woman leaves Churachandpur, India, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The Bnei Menashe claim to be descendants of one the 10 lost tribes of Israel.
Relatives bid farewell as a Bnei Menashe Jewish woman leaves Churachandpur, India, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The Bnei Menashe claim to be descendants of one the 10 lost tribes of Israel.   (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A Bnei Menashe boy prays in a synagogue during a prayer ceremony before he leaves for Israel from Churachandpur, India, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.
A Bnei Menashe boy prays in a synagogue during a prayer ceremony before he leaves for Israel from Churachandpur, India, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.   (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
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