Excitement, Disappointment, Over Impending B’nei Menashe Aliyah
(October 8) Following a Jerusalem Post report this week that 722 B’nei Menashe will soon be making Aliyah from India to Israel under the auspices of Shavei Israel, Shavei’s chairman Michael Freund announced a corrected figure. Freund did so over a Zoom fund-raiser held to encourage donations to help pay for the group’s air fare. The actual number of olim, he said, will be 250, and he expects them to arrive in Israel sometime in November. According to Degel Menashe’s own sources, 109 B’nei Menashe will be coming from Mizoram and 141 from Manipur.
The B’nei Menashe community has greeted the news with mixed emotions. Excitement, disappointment, and frustration are some of them
No list of the group’s composition has been released. Nor, apart from those who have been informed that they are on it, does anyone at present know who they are, because those selected have been told by Shavei Israel not to reveal their identities.
A heavy mantle of secrecy has been cast over the entire operation. Shavei’s Manipur organizer Meital Singson has reportedly contacted each family chosen for Aliyah by telephone and told it to prepare itself. This means doing such things as acquiring passports and selling family property, including homes and fields. While it is hard to imagine that all this can be concealed for long, for the moment it remains under wraps.
Meanwhile, our Newsletter has learned, rumors have been flying and resentment has been building up as families not contacted realize that their Aliyah has been put off once again. Frantic attempts are reportedly being made to call Shavei officials and persuade them to change their minds, but most are unavailable. Meital Singson is said to be unreachable.
“Many B’nei Menashe in India have told us how frustrated they are by the total lack of transparency in all this,” Degel Menashe’s project manager Yitzhak Thangjom stated to our Newsletter. (See his editorial on our editorial page.) “Unfortunately, we can’t quote them by name because some of them still hope to be put on the list at the last moment, while others are afraid to be stricken from future lists if they complain. The whole procedure is unacceptable. It will be a wonderful thing if more of our brothers and sisters can soon be in Israel, but it mustn’t be allowed to happen this way again.”