The Bnei Menashe claim descent from the ancient Israelite tribe of Menashe (Manasseh), one of the storied 10 Lost Tribes exiled from the land of Israel by Assyrian conquerors 27 centuries ago. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate affirmed in 2005 that these people are, indeed, of Jewish ancestry, but required that they undergo formal conversion before they can be deemed Jewish under rabbinic law — and thus qualify for immigration rights, in such areas as subsidies and citizenship, under Israel’s Law of Return. In the meantime, they must manage their resettlement on their own.
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