Aizawl, July 27 (IANS) — “It will take a few more days for the mikvah to be completed and after that the final process of conversion will begin,” Rabbi Hannock Avizedek, an Israeli preacher deputed by the Chief Rabbinate religious jurists, told IANS.
“A bath at the mikvah forms an important ritual in Jewish traditions and a holy dip is considered the final step towards becoming a complete Jew.” For a new convert, a divine dip at the mikvah is mandatory.
A similar ritual bath is also being constructed at Manipur.
The chief rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem in March that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites or one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.
The recognition by Israel came in the wake of piles of applications from locals here seeking to migrate to Israel, which they say is their “right to return to their promised land”.
According to Israeli law every Jew enjoys the “right of return” – or the right of abode in Israel.
“Leaders of the Rabbinical Court will come from Israel and find out who are the people who can take a bath at the mikvah. There are strict rules to be followed and it is not that anybody who claims to be a Jew can take a dip,” Rabbi Avizedek said.
“Once the rituals are over, it will open the gates for people from here to migrate to Israel.”
Although recognised as Jews, tribal people here will have to undergo conversion rituals as they have been not been strictly following Judaism as practiced in Israel.
At least 800 people from Mizoram and Manipur have migrated to Israel during the past decade, the last batch of 71 people leaving for Jerusalem in May 2003.
The local tribal Mizos and some people in Churachandpur area of Manipur are believed to have very many things in common with the Jews in Israel. Like in any Jewish home in Israel, Mizo Jews also place the mezuzah or a wooden box containing verses from the Torah at the entrance of their homes, besides wearing the kippah or headgear during prayers.
“I am convinced the Mizos are Jews. There are lots of similarities between the Israelis and the Mizos,” said Zaitthangchungi, a local researcher and author of a book “Israel Mizo Identity”.
For people like Yonathan Ralte, a young college student in Mizoram, a holy dip could be a passport to Israel.
“I am learning Hebrew and other aspects of Judaism so that I clear the test for conversion. I want to go to my Promised Land soon,” Ralte said while voluntarily helping in the construction of the ritual bath.
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