In March 2005, after two years of investigation and research, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Amar shlita, recognized the affiliation of the Bnei Menashe to the Torah and to the People of Israel and ruled that they must be assisted in their return to the fold of the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

Several individuals of the Bnei Menashe community had begun immigrating to Israel already in 1982. By 2003 approximately 1,250 community members had come to Israel with the approval of the Ministry of Interior, as tourists and in small groups. Only after completing the conversion process through the Rabbinate were they given the status of a new immigrant, with all the rights that derive from that status, but this made it difficult for them to settle in the center of the country. Therefore, at the outset they settled in communities such as Kiryat Arba, Beit El, Ofra and Gush Katif.

These immigrants did not undergo the regular absorption process. They did not learn Hebrew in ulpans (study centers) and were not given vocational training and, as a result, worked in occasional jobs and with low pay. Several families were also compelled to live together in one house and some took a year or two to complete the conversion process, after which they were awarded Israeli citizenship and recognized as new immigrants.

To date, the Bnei Menashe community is distributed around Israel in Kiryat Arba, Nitzan, Beit El, Afula, Maalot, Sderot, Ofra, Carmiel, Jerusalem, and in several other communities, totaling 1,720 people.

With a forward looking approach, the State is currently considering the immigration of another 2,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community and we believe that about 300 people will immigrate to Israel in the coming months, and another 1000 in the next few years.

“And they shall come that were lost in the land of Assyria, and they that were dispersed in the land of Egypt; and they shall worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Isaiah, 27:13).

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