Immigrants from the Jewish “lost tribe” of Bnei Menashe landed at Ben-Gurion Airport this week to build a new life in Israel.

Hailing from northeast India, the Bnei Menashe community is said to be descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel – specifically the tribe of Menashe — that scattered across the globe after being exiled at the end of the First Temple period in the eighth century BCE.

The 252 new immigrants who made their way to Israel this week with the help of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Shavei Israel organization joined the 3,000-strong Bnei Menashe community already in the country. Some 7,000 more community members await immigration in northeast India.

Some 50 families, 24 single individuals, 43 children and 19 seniors land in Israel after a much-anticipated wait. Photo by Eleonora Shiluv/Courtesy of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration

This week’s immigrants include 50 families and 24 single individuals, four infants under the age of two, 39 children aged 12 years old or younger and 19 seniors aged 62 years or older. They underwent a quick absorption process at the airport and were sent to quarantine according to Covid-19 regulations.

The new Bnei Menashe immigrants undergo a quick absorption process at the airport. Photo by Eleonora Shiluv/Courtesy of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration

“As we celebrate the festival of Hanukkah and the miracle of the flask of oil, the aliyah [immigration] of the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe after 2,700 years of exile is itself a modern-day Hanukkah miracle,” says Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel.

“The story of this unique community that maintained its connection to the Jewish people and the land of Israel down through the generations is powerful and inspiring and I fervently hope that we will soon see all the remaining Bnei Menashe make aliyah as well,” he added.