TEL AVIV - One-hundred-seventy-four people from a group of thousands in India that believes it is one of the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel landed here this week, fulfilling for many a life-long dream of returning to what they consider their homeland. Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based organization led by American Michael Freund, hopes to bring to the Jewish state the remaining 7,000 Indian citizens who believe they are the Bnei Menashe, the descendants of Manasseh, one of biblical patriarch Joseph's two sons and a grandson of Jacob. The tribe lives in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they claim to have been exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire.
"I truly believe this is a miracle of immense historical and even biblical significance," Freund told WND as the group of 174 arrived here earlier this week. "Just as the prophets foretold so long ago, the lost tribes of Israel are being brought back from the exile," said Freund, who previously served as deputy communications director under former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Another planeload of 57 Bnei Menashe is slated to touch down in Israel tomorrow. The group, which has preserved ancient Jewish customs and rituals, has been trying the past 50 years to return to Israel. Over the last decade, Freund's Shavei Israel, at times working with other organizations, brought about 1,200 Bnei Menashe members to the Jewish state. Many settled in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. About 80 lived in Gaza's slate of Jewish communities, which were evacuated by the Israeli government in 2005....
The new immigrants will spend the next few months studying Hebrew and Judaism at a Shavei Israel absorption center in northern Israel... "As much as we might think that Israel is helping the Bnei Menashe, it is the reverse that is true. It is they who strengthen us - with their faith, with their commitment and with their undying love for Zion," said Freund.
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