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(30 September) Our Newsletter has learnt that some 270 B'nei Menashe from Manipur will be leaving for Israel on the 14th October. Although no official announcement has been made, the prospective immigrants have all been informed by Shavei Israel, a private Jerusalem based organization that has been put in charge of B'nei Menashe aliya.

The group of immigrants is comprised of the last of the 722 men, women and children who were on the 2015-16 list of candidates for aliya approved by Shavei Israel and the Rabbinate. With their arrival in Israel, all B'nei Menashe approved for aliya will have made it. This leaves over 5,000 B'nei Menashe still waiting for their turn. Upon being informed of their upcoming aliya, the heads of all families involved were summoned to Shavei Israel office in Churachandpur. There they were made to pay a fee of Rupees 500 per person to have their photos taken and required to sign an oath of loyalty to Shavei Israel. In this oath, those of them who had signed the petition last February asking the Israeli government to put an end to Shavei's monopoly on B'nei Menashe aliya were made to declare that their names were put on the petition without their knowledge. No room was left for doubt that whoever refused to sign such a statement would be struck from the aliya list. Virtually all of the petition signers complied with this ultimatum. "Even though my family knew this was not true, we signed anyway because we were afraid to lose our chance for the aliya," we were told by a B'nei Menashe who asked to remain anonymous. "I would like to state clearly that I stand by my beliefs and I, like everyone else I know whose name was on the petition, signed it willingly and with full consent."

One sign of the imminent aliya was the departure from Israel for Manipur on the 29th September of Tzvi Khaute, Shavei Israel's Coordinator for B'nei Menashe affairs. Khaute was sent from Israel to make the final arrangement and supervise the proceedings.

According to informed sources, the immigrants will spend a period of time in an absorption centre in Israel where they will undergo formal conversion to Judaism, after which they will be given housing in the northern city of Nof HaGalil (Upper Nazareth). In this, they will join the two previous groups from the 2015-16 list who are now living in Nof HaGalil, too.

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