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Jews in Mizoram offer prayers for Israel

Aizawl:  Mizo Jews called ‘Bnei Menashe’ (children of Manashe) in Mizoram have been offering prayers for the safety of the state of Israel.

Members of the Bnei Manashe included those in Mizoram and those in Manipur who had fled to Mizoram due to ethnic violence in Manipur.

Sources in Assam border Kolasib district said that there are around 250 people among the internally displaced people of Manipur taking shelter in the district.

The sources said that the Bnei Menashe members have been offering special prayers for Israel since October 8, the day after the Hamas attacked Isarel on the Sabbath by holding candle light vigil inside the relief camps.

They have been offering prayers and organised candlelight vigil in solidarity with victims of the Hamas attacks, safety of Israel, Israel Defence Forces and others safeguarding Israel.

Not only the IDPs, Bnei Menashe members in other parts of Mizoram and Manipur have also being offering special prayers for Israel which they regard as the ‘Promised Land’ or ‘Holy Land’.

Sources in Israel said that over 5,000 Bnei Menashe community who migrated to Israel from Mizoram and Manipur were safe till date. 

Shavey Israel Mizoram Chapter Secretary Asriel said that there are around 200 Bnei Manashe members serving in Israel Defence Force and more than 300 reservists who are engaged in a war with the Hamas.

The Bnei Menashe community in northeast India’s Mizoram and Manipur claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, who had visited Mizoram from Israel in 1986 and again in 1988-89 and 2004, named the Jews community of Zo-Kuki ancestry as Bnei Menashe, meaning descendants of Menashe. He gave the recognition after scrutinising the community’s account of their ancestral connection with Menashe, the largest of the 10 lost tribes mentioned in the Bible.

Avichail’s recognition of ethnic Mizos as the lost tribe of Israel was confirmed by Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in early 2005 triggering the mass exodus of people from Mizoram and Manipur. 

Bnei Manashe’s migration to Israel began in the early 1990s.

“Around 1500 people from Mizoram and 3500 people from Manipur have so far returned to the Holy Land,” said Asriel, adding that there are 800 to 900 people in Mizoram who are waiting for their turn to migrate. 

Candle light at Shavei Israel’s Synagogue

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