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More Mizo Jews may migrate to Israel in 2012



AIZAWL, February 10 (Agencies): A group of Bnei Menashe (Mizo Jews) from the northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur are expected to migrate to Israel, the 'Promised Land' for the Jewish community this year. Jeremiah L Hnamte, a Bnei Menashe leader hoped that at least a few hundreds, if not all, would be able to 'go home' this year from Mizoram. He said the Israeli government had agreed to the migration of 7,232 Bnei Menashe members to the 'Holy Land' last year, but a number of obstacles had prevented them from leaving India.
"Some of the community members are extremely poor. So, the Israeli government will have to provide financial assistance and bear the travel expenses of the families," Hnamte said. One leader of the Bnei Menashes, however, attributed the delay in the migration of the Mizo Jews to the decision of the Israeli government to first take back the Ethiopian Jews before concentrating on the Jews living in India. Following acceptance from the chief Rabbi and the Israeli government, it is believed that the Bnei Menashes are the descendants of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel and they were destined to migrate and live permanently in the Holy Land. The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman and absorption minister, Sofa Landver had thus proposed the migration of the remaining lost tribes from northeast India, a source said.
A leader of the Mizo Jewish community said the Bnei Menashes were baptized at the 'Mikveh' (Jewish spiritual baths) situated in the Zuangtui industrial estate near Aizawl by a team of rabbis from Israel and formally converted to Judaism. Four rabbis from Israel including the first and only Mizo rabbi, Gurion Sela, who came to Aizawl recently, are still helping the Bnei Menashe members to prepare for their migration to the 'Promised Land'. According to a historian, the Chin-Kuki-Mizos of Manipur and Mizoram began to claim that they were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel only after they were converted to Christianity. With their introduction to the Bible, the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes saw a similarity in their pre-Christian traditions and those of the ancient Israelites. In 1951, Challianthanga, the head deacon of the United Pentecostal Church in Mizoram's Buallawn village, had a vision of God telling him the Mizos were descendants of the Israelites.

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