Debating India

Are Mizos `lost’ Israeli tribes?

Monday 25 April 2005

Some say the rabbinical court’s pronouncement stems from a Jewish design

Jewish rabbis would be here to teach and formally convert the "Bnei Menashe," or the children of Menashe, "one of the lost tribes of Israel," from May.

AIZAWL: Moving across Aizawl, Israel Store and Zion Street are common sights and a newcomer to the State capital could be excused if he momentarily wonders if he is in any part of Israel.

For many among thousands of those living in Mizoram and Manipur, Israel is the promised land and believe they are the lost tribes of Israel.

They were overjoyed when the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar reportedly recognised them as "descendants of the Israeli tribes."

After the recognition and announcement on March 30, "Amishav Hebrew Centre," the institute for learning Hebrew language, Jewish religion and culture at Republic Veng locality here, was re-christened as "Shavey Israel Hebrew Centre."

While "Amishav" means "Return my people," and "Shavei" conveys that these people are now citizens of Israel, it is noteworthy that the Principal of the institute, Alenby Sela, and his family have already migrated to Israel after the announcement.

Veronica K. Zatluangi, landlady of the centre, told PTI that Jewish rabbis would be coming here to teach and formally convert the "Bnei Menashe," or the children of Menashe, "one of the lost tribes of Israel," from the first part of May.

Another Israel enthusiast, Zaithanchhungi, who has done extensive research in Mizoram and Israel on whether the Mongoloid stock of the northeastern people could be linked to the lost tribes of Israel, said she cried "Hallelujah"’ when she heard the decision of the Chief Rabbi.

The Chief Rabbi is head of the rabbinical court, the highest decision-making authority to determine who are the lost tribes of Israel, she said.

Zaithanchhungi, who was sceptical about Mizos belonging to Israel when she began her research, claimed she found that Mizo "prophets" like Chala of Buallawn village had declared way back in 1950 that Mizos were the lost tribes of Israel, the descendants of Menashe.

However, Dr. P.C. Biaksiama, a former bureaucrat and now a researcher in Christian theology, says Mizo people as a whole did not believe that they belonged to the lost tribes of Israel and alleged the decision of the rabbinical court has a Jewish design to convert Mizo Christians to Judaism. - PTI

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