The first group of Bnei Menashe, 218 people, has completed aliya, the first since Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar confirmed the group’s halachic status.
Mizoram is one of the easternmost states of India, along the border with Burma. As noted by the JPost:
the Bnei Menashe trace their ancestry back to Menashe, one of the 10 tribes of Israel exiled by the Assyrians some 27 centuries ago.
Despite wandering in exile for so long, they managed to preserve a strong sense of pride and Jewish identity, keeping Shabbat, following the laws of family purity, circumcising newborn males on the eighth day and passing down across the generations a deeply held belief that they would one day go home again to Zion.
There are about 7,000 Bnei Menashe in Mizoram and the neighboring state of Manipur. Haaretz adds:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews had wanted to bring the entire group to Israel in a sensational event, but was pressured to cancel the plan by the Foreign Ministry after it became clear the Indian government was not pleased with the idea.
I then checked to see if one of the major papers of India, the Hindustan Times, was covering the story. Not at all. In fact, the only search result on “Bnei Menashe” is one from August, 2005, at the time of the evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza. That report noted there were about “146 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe [in Gaza], who immigrated to Israel from Manipur and Mizoram during the past decade.”
Remarkably, the Bnei Menashe still must undergo “conversion” before making aliya in order to be accepted as Jewish by Israel’s keepers of who is and is not a Jew.