- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
Manipuri Jews have a very interesting origin. They are supposed to be descendents of the Tribe of Manasseh, which is one of the ten lost tribes of Israel and who were exiled by the Assyrians around 8th Century BC. Manipur is in the North East of India, close to Myanmar. Linguistically they belong to the Tibeto Burman stock, but over the centuries they held on to their Jewish traditions. India's North Eastern states are predominantly Christian, largely due to the aggressive proselytizing by Christian missionaries. In the19th century, many of the members of the Jewish community who belong to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribe were converted to Christianity. However in the 1970's a Pentecostal by name Chalianthanga had a dream that God had ordered him to return to his original faith, which he believed was Judaism. In 1979, Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, came to know of this tribe, and he visited India several times. It was during one of his visits, that, he named this community Bnei Menashe. This was because; the community's Mizo ancestor had the name Manmasi, which could possibly be the same as Menassah son of Joseph. It was Avichail's organization AMISHAV which began the process of reconverting them to the Orthodox religion prior to their migration to Israel. It was only in 2005 however that Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who is one of Israel's two chief rabbis, recognized Bnei Menashe community as the descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel. Over the last two decades around 1700 of them have migrated to Israel.