In a remote corner on the Indian- Burmese border, in Mizoram state, thousands live a suspended life. Most have left their jobs and schools, some have even left their families. They wait in silence to return to the promised land, Israel.
Rivka or Rebecca has come to Aizwal in Mizoram for her father-in- law's funeral. She has now to get a tourist visa and an inner line permit (required by all non-Mizos) to enter the state.
Mizo jews have a transnational imagination and by placing themselves in Israel they are constructing a new identity for themselves which moves beyond the territorial construct of Northeast India, deterritorializing the region.
lost tribe of Israel
Have you started taking the photos.
I think we better start from the very beginning of how we came to be Jewish.
So in the year 1987, we contacted one of the Rabbi in Jerusalem
His name is Rev Avichail, Rabbi Iliyaho Avichail
So he also tried to come many times to visit us
At that time we were around 200 people in Mizoram
We had a community called Chinlung Bnei Meneshe
He also tried his best to come to us but he could not get the visa
Even when he got the visa to enter India, he could not get the Inner Line
Permit to enter Mizoram
So we talked to each other and he tried his best for our return home to
So we were in touch since then
Fortunately in the year 1989, he could make some visas
I think for 10 youngsters, 5 from Mizoram 5 from Manipur, So that was the
I also after getting married and with 2 children I made Aliyah
We say Aliyah it is a Hebrew word, it means returning home.
So I returned home in the year 2003 with my family.
Have you been here yesterday____
but as I told you I am the ladst group to return home to our home town,
So most of the people in Israel are familiar with the Bnei Meneshe.
Because you know we look very different
We have Mongoloid looks and they don\t
So, though we are the last group to return home from India, there is still
some.... not exactly problem but misunderstanding
I mean because of the way we look some people thought we are from Thailand
Some people thought we are from Philippines
Because many people from Philippines and Thailand are also in Israel as
workers, you know labour.
So because of that some people, some Israelis thought we are from Thailand
and Philippines or something like that.
But after the Gaza Strip was given back, since then through news in TV,
they came to know we are Bnei Meneshe
Ya we have some symbols you know this we call kova.
Married girls wear something on their heads.
Those from Philippines and Thailand dont cover their heads
and also the men wear a kipa
Because of that though we resemble people from Philippines and Thailand,
when they see the kipa and kova they come to know that we are Menashes
So I entered the Indian Embassy
There were many people applying for the Indian visa, Israelis, maybe Jews
from Bombay, as the looked like Indian
so he recognized me and called me Are you Rebecca
I said Yes"?
So I talked to him and filled up the form for the visa
I asked him if I could enter India with my Indian passport
He said No you are now Israeli you cannot enter India with the Indian
While we were talking one officer from inside the room came out and asked
me to give the Indian passport and also the Israeli passport
He asked me which one I like
If I wanted the Israeli passport he would cancel the Indian passport
If I the Indian passport he would cancel the Israeli passport
So I asked again if dual citizenship is possible
But he did not answer me
He took the Indian passport and cancelled it, tore it and returned it to me
Ya especially me, since childhood i am longing for the promised land
Because I have grown up with Judaism
My parents too observe Judaism practiced
Even before I saw the land you know in imagination I was really keen to
reach Israel So when I got the chance to go to Israel in the year 2003...
When we arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv
So immediately after entering the land when we first set foot in Israel we
just touched the ground, kissed it and cried
We also prayed to Hasem, to God
Everybody cried when we first entered the land
It was really impressive
It felt as if we were seeing our parents and home after a very long duration
Its a nice place