Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bene Menashe migrating to Israel

THE BENE MENASHE are coming to Israel:
After three millennia in exile, Bnei Menashe lost tribe heads home

James Hider in Jerusalem (London Times)

When Tzvi Khaute landed at Tel Aviv for the first time, he wanted to kiss the earth. Alas, the modern airport was all tarmac and stone, so he kissed the first soil he came across, in a flowerpot. Thousands of diaspora Jews from around the world make aliyah — the migration to Israel — every year, but for Tzvi and his fellow Tibeto-Burmese immigrants from the far northeast of India, the journey was particular freighted with symbolism. They believe they are descendants of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel, sent into exile by the Assyrians almost 800 years before the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem.

About 1,700 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe — the Sons of Manasseh, one of the original 12 biblical tribes of Israel — have migrated to Israel, completing what they believe is an extraordinary, 2,700-year exile that took them from the Middle East seven centuries before the Christian era, through Afghanistan, China, Burma and India, before they heard that a new state of Israel had been created 62 years ago.

I've mentioned the Bene Menashe earlier here, here, and here. As I've noted before, there's no evidence for the claim that they go back to the Assyrian exile in the 700s BCE, although their genetic profile does seem to indicate some connection with the Middle East. This 2005 BBC article sums up the evidence.