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Prophecy Fullfilled in India

Please read this important message from our friend in Israel, Michael Freund, as he explains to us a headline development in Israel today:

I want to share with you some very important news - the L-rd has answered our prayers and is bringing His lost sheep home to Zion!

There has been a momentous, even historic breakthrough, in my efforts on behalf of the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, who are descended from a Lost Tribe of Israel.

For the past 12 years, I have lobbied and cajoled, nudged and pressed the Israeli government to open the gates and to allow the entire Bnei Menashe community to return to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel. Now, at last, just as the prophets foretold, this dream may be about to come true.

As the attached article from today's Maariv newspaper indicates (see the translation below), Prime Minister Ehud OImert has acceded to my request and has agreed to bring the remaining 7,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community on aliyah. Clearly, the L-rd has put it in his heart to speed up the ingathering of the Exiles.

But the move is already coming under attack, as various critics seek to persuade the Prime Minister to cancel his decision.

And that is where I need your help.

Please take a moment and send a quick, congratulatory e-mail to Prime Minister Olmert thanking him for his decision to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel and encouraging him to move forward with their aliyah. E-mails should be sent to him at his assistant's address: avi.widerman@it.pmo.gov.il.

Here is a sample text that you can cut and paste:

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Prime Minister Olmert -

I applaud your decision to bring the 7,000 Bnei Menashe to Israel. This is a true act of Zionism, and it will strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I encourage you to press forward and to bring the Bnei Menashe home as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

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Also - please spread this message to as many friends and mailing lists as you can. We need your prayers and we need as many people as possible to write to the Prime Minister and encourage him on this path.

The fate of 7,000 Bnei Menashe men, women and children now hangs in the balance. We can not miss this opportunity to bring them home to Zion and to Israel - so please take a moment and voice your support for this important initiative.

Sincerely,

Michael Freund
Chairman, Shavei Israel
http://www.shavei.org/

Translation of article in Maariv, August 20, 2008

Olmert Decides: Thousands of Bnei Menashe will come to Israel
by Eli Bardenstein

In a historic decision, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided that all 7,232 members of the tribe of Bnei Menashe who are living in northern India will be allowed to make Aliya.

Olmert and his office took the decision a short while after they decided to put a stop to the aliya of the Falash Mura from Ethiopia.

The decision came a short while after Meir Shitreet, Minister of the Interior, who had lead the opposition to their Aliya, removed his objections.

After Rosh Hashana, Shitreet, together with Eli Afflalo, Minister of Absorption, will fly to northern India, where the Bnei Menashe reside, and will meet with them. Upon the Ministers' return, the decision will be brought to the Prime Minister for formal approval. Their Aliya will take place, in all probability, with a monthly quota system of a few hundred Olim per month, with the anticipation that within two years, the entire group will be brought over to Israel. The agreement in principle regarding their Aliya was reached in a small meeting that took place last Wednesday in the Prime Minister's office.

The decision to bring over the Bnei Menashe is first and foremost an achievement for one man- Michael Freund, Chairman of the Shavei Israel Organization. Freund has been working since the mid 90's to convince the Prime Minister of the authenticity of the Jewishness of the Bnei Menashe. He has established centers for Jewish education and training in the two northeastern Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram, where the Bnei Menashe are situated. The educational activities extend from the centers all the way to the villages where the Bnei Menashe live. In addition, the organization encourages them to complete their education and does not push them to leave their villages with false hope.

Until 2003, only 100 of the Bnei Menashe made Aliya each year, and completed their conversion in Israel. In that year, Avraham Poraz, then Minister of the Interior, decided to freeze their Aliya until the topic was clarified. In the meantime, Freund succeeded in convincing Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to visit India, and at the end of his visit, he concluded that in fact they are an offshoot of the Nation of Israel. Following his visit, Rabbi Amar sent representatives of the Rabbinical Court to convert 218 of the Bnei Menashe. The episode caused resentment within the Indian Government, because the Israeli government performed conversions in their country.

That group made Aliya in 2006, and another 232 made Aliya in the context of a secret agreement that Freund reached with the head of the office of the Interior Ministry at the time, Ram Balinkov.

In the past year and a half, a number of parties tried to convince Olmert and various governmental authorities of the rights of the Bnei Menashe to make Aliya. In addition to Freund, who took the lead in this endeavor - he lobbied governmental authorities, ensured that letters from the community members would reach Olmert's desk, and even enlisted several Knesset members for the cause - the Jewish Agency was also involved together with the Keren Yedidut.

Recently, Shavei Israel undertook a precise census of all the Bnei Menashe from which they prepared a closed list of names that strictly defines those who can make Aliya. The government and the Jewish Agency will be involved in their Aliya, in order that a similar situation will not arise as with the Ethiopians, where it seems that their Aliya will never end.

The Israeli government is aware of the sensitivities of the Indian Government with regard to the emigration of thousands of Bnei Menashe from their country within a short period of time. Therefore, their Aliya will take place over an extended period, with the quota system. Of course they will undergo conversion in Israel with the assistance of the Shavei Israel organization.

Joy Among the Immigrants in Israel: I Waited For This News for a Very Long Time
by Eli Bardenstein

"I am thrilled that the government has decided to allow all of the Bnei Menashe to make Aliya from India. We waited for this news for a very long time, and it is difficult for me to describe how happy I am", said Uri Paltiel who made Aliya with his wife from India a year ago.

"For so many years we dreamed of coming home", explains Paltiel. "I believe that our return to Israel is part of the greater Divine plan that returns all Jews in the "End of Days" to Israel. It may be a sign that the Messiah is coming, and therefore we should all be here for his arrival". According to this recent Oleh, "We are part of the Jewish tradition and history. We love Israel and want to be part of our Jewish country and contribute to it. I want to raise my year-old child that was born here as well as my children that are yet to be born in a religious atmosphere, and I want them to become Israelis.

Paltiel lives with his wife and baby in Maalot. After they underwent conversion they began to attend Ulpan in order to learn Hebrew. "The people here in Maalot have helped us tremendously" said Paltiel. He continued "The parents of many of these people were new immigrants themselves and are aware of all the difficulties that arise in the first few years in the country. They provide assistance to us wherever we need it". Paltiel plans to start learning a new profession after the holidays. "I may train to become a chef, or perhaps I'll study computers", he concluded.