Ministry Sets New Course On B’nei Menashe Aliyah
Updated: Dec 15, 2023
(April 20, 2023) At a meeting held with Degel Menashe’s chairman Hillel Halkin and managing director Yitzhak Thangjom at the Jerusalem office of Israel’s Ministry of Immigration and Absorption on April 17, the ministry’s Deputy Director Moshe Pines informed the organization of a new approach it intended to take toward B’nei Menashe Aliyah.
Until now, the lists of B’nei Menashe chosen for Aliyah have been drawn up exclusively by the Jerusalem-based NGO Shavei Israel and submitted to the ministry and to Israel’s Chief Rabbinate for their approval. B’nei Menashe denied a place on these lists had no court of appeal. In recent years, many have turned for help both to Degel Menashe and to the B’nei Menashe Council of Northeast India, but during the administration of Minister of Immigration Pnina Tamano-Shata of Israel’s National Unity Party, which ended with last December’s formation of a new government, their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Now, Deputy Director Pines told Halkin and Thangjom, the ministry, currently administered by the National Religious Party, has decided to do things differently. Degel Menashe and the B’nei Menashe Council will be asked to submit to it their own list of Aliyah candidates, and it will then collate this with Shavei’s lists, review the candidates with the participation of all the organizations involved. and produce a final, comprehensive list of its own.
“It’s my objective to bring all B’nei Menashe to Israel,” Degel Menashe’s leaders were told by Pines, who lives in the village of Nitzan in southwestern Israel, where there is a sizable B’nei Menashe population. “I live with B’nei Menashe in Nitzan, know many of them personally, and have heard from them of the loved ones – parents, children, brothers, sisters – who have been left behind in India. They won’t feel truly at home in Israel until everyone in their family who is eligible is brought home, too. I want to make sure that this happens.”
“This is a day of celebration for the entire B’nei Menashe community,” Yitzhak Thangjom told our Newsletter. “We can now finally look forward to the B’nei Menashe’s Aliyah process being a truly fair and transparent one. Degel Menashe has informed the B’nei Menashe Council of the ministry’s decision, and the BMC is already at work compiling a list of B’nei Menashe who wish to be represented by it. There are many questions still to be answered regarding how the new Aliyah process will work, and we hope to be in touch with the Ministry about them all. Meanwhile, a welcome fresh start has been made.”