August 25, 2007
JERUSALEM, Aug, 25 (UPI) -- More than 200 members of the Indian Jewish sect Bnei Menashe began arriving in Israel this week to begin the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship.
The Bnei Menashe claim to be descended from the Menashe, one of the 10 exiled tribes of ancient Israel.
IsraelINN.com said Saturday that the immigrants are the vanguard of as many as 5,000 members of the group living in India.
The group sent 200 members to Israel last year; however, the process was halted because India does not allow its citizens to convert to Judaism. Because conversion is required for Israeli citizenship, the government had to come up with a new plan, IsraelINN.com said. The new process has the Bnei Menashe entering Israel on tourist visas and then undergoing conversion. They are then cleared for full citizenship.