FW: [SERMLIST] India Jews
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>Amar: Bnei Menashe are Descendants of Ancient Israelites
>By Yair Sheleg
>Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar decided on Wednesday to recognize the members of
>India's Bnei Menashe community as descendants of the ancient Israelites.
>Amar also decided to dispatch a team of rabbinical judges to India to
>convert the community members to Orthodox Jews. Such a conversion will
>enable their immigration to Israel under the Law of Return, without
>requiring the Interior Ministry's authorization.
>The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews (IFCJ), a group that
>raises money among evangelical Christians for Jewish causes, has undertaken
>to finance the process of converting the Bnei Menashe community and
>bringing them to Israel.
>The Bnei Menashe community consists of close to 7,000 members of the
>Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribe, which lives in northeast India near the border of
>Myanmar (formally Burma). For generations they kept Jewish traditions,
>claiming to be descended from the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten lost
>Israeli tribes that were exiled by the Assyrians in the eighth century
>B.C.E. and have since disappeared.
>At the beginning of the 20th century, the tribe's members converted to
>Christianity, but about 30 years ago, some of the community began moving
>back to Judaism and set themselves apart from the rest of the tribe.
>A number of researchers who visited the group over the years got the
>impression that their traditions are authentically Israelite in origin.
>Two genetic studies carried out over the past year have attempted to
>examine the issue. The studies compared DNA samples taken from several
>hundred members of the Kuki tribe to a DNA Jewish profile and to a general
>Middle Eastern profile.
>A study performed by scientists in Kolkata concludes that while the
>masculine side of the genetic profile has no affiliation to the nation of
>Israel, the feminine side has a certain family relationship to the genetic
>profile of Middle Eastern people. The difference between the masculine and
>feminine sides may be explained by the marriage of one of the mothers of
>the tribe, who came from the Middle East, to a local native.
>A second genetic study is still being conducted by the Technion in Haifa.
>About 12 years ago, the Interior Ministry allocated an annual quota of 100
>immigrants from the Bnei Menashe tribe. So far some 800 of them have
>immigrated and undergone conversion in Israel. The majority of them live
>in settlements in the territories, including 250 people in Gaza's Gush