November 20, 2006 / 29 Cheshvan 5767
The force behind this week’s aliyah of a large group of the Bnei Menashe community is Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). “Aliyah is of utmost importance for the State of Israel,” says Rabbi Eckstein. “Immigration is an essential component of the vision of our donors.”
The Bnei Menashe claim descent from the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten tribes exiled from Israel over 2,700 years ago. They reside primarily in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.
Following a decision of the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Absorption to enable their aliyah, the IFCJ has contributed 1.5 million dollars towards their immigration and absorption. The Jewish Agency is facilitating the Bnei Menashe's transition into Israeli society.
Another group of the Bnei Menashe is due to arrive in the near future. “We’re happy to cooperate with the Jewish Agency in assisting with the Ingathering of the Exiles, and we’ll continue to support aliyah,” states Rabbi Eckstein.