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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 12:54 GMT
Indians start new life in Israel
Inside the Manipur synagogue
A Bnei Menashe synagogue in Manipur, India
About 50 Indians who were recognised as Jewish last year have arrived in Israel to start new lives there.

The immigrants are among some 6,000 Bnei Menashe tribes people from the north-eastern India states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim Jewish ancestry.

At least 150 more members of the tribe are expected in Israel later this week after receiving help in special educational centres on life in Israel.

The great majority of Bnei Menashe tribes people follow Christianity.

Some 800 Menashe Jews had moved to Israel some years ago, but emigration was then complicated after Israeli government officials said in 2003 that they did not regard the Menashe as being genuinely Jewish.

That led to the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar visiting north-eastern India to meet the Menashe who say they are descendents of one of the 10 tribes that was exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BC.

The chief rabbi ruled last year that they were indeed Jewish, thus clearing the way for them to emigrate to Israel.

The new arriving members were handed immigration cards at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday and taken to an absorption centre in northern Israel, the AFP news agency reports.

An Israeli organisation, Shavei Israel, has been running educational centres in India to prepare the community for life in Israel, teaching them Hebrew, Jewish rituals and traditions.

The organisation also lobbied the Israeli government to treat their immigration as a priority, AFP says.




SEE ALSO
Israeli 'tribe' faces another move
12 Aug 05 |  South Asia
Rabbi backs India's 'lost Jews'
01 Apr 05 |  South Asia
India's 'lost Jews' wait in hope
18 Aug 04 |  South Asia
Mizo 'Jews' seek Israel visas
23 Dec 03 |  South Asia
Israel to expand settlement
02 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Q&A: India's violent north-east
21 Nov 03 |  South Asia

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