Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. Nehemiah 9:32 (The Israel Bible™)
Fifteen couples from the Bnei Menashe (Sons of Menashe), who immigrated to Israel from Manipur, India, two months ago, were remarried in a festive ceremony. It was held at the nonprofit NGO Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, following the completion of the couples’ formal conversion.
The 15 couples comprised part of the 225 Bnei Menashe who immigrated to Israel in June, brought home as part of the efforts Shavei Israel to return the Tribes of Israel.
“After realizing their dream of making Aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, these 15 Bnei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate,” said Shavei Israel founder and chairman Michael Freund. “They have now been remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony which symbolizes the new lives they are building here in the Jewish state. We wish them a hearty Mazel Tov and much joy, health and success here in Israel.”
The brides wore white wedding dresses, while some of the grooms wore suits with traditional Bnei Menashe tribal designs.
Sharon Hangshing (79) and Hillel Hangshing (80) from Churachandpur, Manipur, who have a married daughter and grandchildren living in the Israeli town of Migdal Ha’emek, were one of the couples to be married. The couple arrived in Israel with a widowed daughter and her two sons, as well as an unmarried son. Despite their joy at being in Israel, they left a daughter-in-law and her children.
“I’m very excited! We wanted to see Israel with our own eyes but unfortunately our vision is weak,” said the groom Hillel. “I feel like we’ve come home! Israel is like coming to paradise on earth. It’s not comparable to any other place. My excitement is beyond all imagination,”.
“If only our grandchildren who we left behind could come here and experience this as well,” Sharon added.
The Bnei Menashe are thought to have left Israel more almost three millennia ago. As part of the Ten Tribes, they were separated from the rest of Israel by the Assyrians toward the end of the First Temple period (c. 701 BCE), 140 years before the Babylonian exile. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.