Eleven Bnei Menashe couples, all of whom recently made Aliyah (immigrated) to Israel from northeastern India, were remarried Wednesday in a festive and emotional group ceremony at Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Nordia, near Netanya, after completing their formal conversion to Judaism by the Chief Rabbinate.
The 11 couples were among 257 Bnei Menashe Olim (new immigrants) who arrived in Israel a few weeks ago through the efforts of the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel and Israeli Minister of Aliyah Pnina Tamano Shata.
The 11 couples hail from the northeastern Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram and plan to settle in the city of Nof HaGalil, in the north of Israel.
“We wish the couples a hearty Mazel Tov and much joy, health and success here in their new home,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “After realizing their dream of making Aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, these 11 Bnei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate.”
“Despite the pandemic, they have now been remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony which symbolizes the new lives they are building here in the Jewish state,” he added.
For the weddings, the brides wore traditional white wedding gowns while some of the grooms wore traditional suits with Bnei Menashe tribal designs.
Among the couples who remarried were Maccabi Hnamte (72) and Sarah Hnamte (70), who have been happily married for 49 years.
Their two children made Aliyah to Israel in 2003 and they had not seen them for more than 17 years until their arrival in the Jewish state two months ago.
“We’re very grateful to make Aliyah and very excited to join our children and grandchildren at last,” the Hnamtes said. “After 49 years we have had the privilege to dress up nicely and get married again, only this time under a Chupah (Jewish wedding canopy) here in the land of our ancestors, the Land of Israel.”
The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.
Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals, and following the laws of family purity.
They continued to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.
Shavei Israel has made the dream of Aliyah possible for over 4,000 Bnei Menashe and plans to help bring more members of the community to Israel.
Currently, there are 6,500 Bnei Menashe awaiting Aliyah to Israel.
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