During the First Temple era, Israel divided into two kingdoms. The Kingdom of Judah, in the south, consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, as well as Levi. The northern kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel, consisted of the other ten tribes, including Joseph’s son, Menasseh. This tribe is believed to be the Bnei Menashe, which we’ll discuss.
A Lost Tribe of Israel
In the 7th century BCE, the Assyrians invaded and conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel. Those ten tribes, either exiled or enslaved by the Assyrians, came to be known as the Lost Tribes. The Bnei Menashe (Hebrew for “Children of Menasseh”), a tribe living in the far northeastern corner of India, began to make aliyah nearly 15 years ago, with help from The Fellowship. At the time, Rabbi Eckstein had this to say:
Recently I returned to India to visit these dear people and reassure them of The Fellowship’s support. While my trip was short, it was encouraging nonetheless. I was able to visit Bnei Menashe synagogues, and felt privileged to be invited into their homes. In my private conversations with them, there were two recurring themes: Their gratitude to learn that American Christians are helping them return to Israel, and their intense and enduring desire to come home to the Holy Land.
Returning to Israel
Yes, Christian friends of the Jewish people played an important role in bringing God’s children home, just as you bring home God’s children today. And making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) is not even the hardest part of these precious people’s journey. No, as Rabbi Eckstein also pointed out:
Our commitment to Jewish immigrants extends far beyond simply bringing them to Israel. The klitah (resettlement) process includes a broad range of services to help the Bnei Menashe successfully establish their new life as full citizens in Israel and provide their basic needs, including language and job training, housing, schooling, and financial assistance to help them through this time of transition.
So, as we rejoice that these children of God have returned to their biblical homeland, we also thank Him for friends of the Jewish state and her people like you who continue to make possible The Fellowship’s prophetic work – through your gifts, through your prayers, and through our shared faith.Tags: Aliyah Bnei Menashe India Israel Lost Tribes Rabbi Eckstein