Friday, 25 April 2014

Bijoyeta Das | India's Jewish Tribe

Photo © Bijoyeta Das - All Rights Reserved- Courtesy Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera's In Pictures blog features non-news photo essays, and these occasionally are of ethnic minorities that are infrequently showcased on other similar mass media blogs. It has recently featured "Indian Jewish Tribe Heads Home" about the Bnei Menashe tribe who live in India’s northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur.

Around 7000 of these Bnei Menashe members claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel; ten lost tribes refers to the ten of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel that were deported from the Kingdom of Israel after it was conquered by Assyria in about 722 BCE.

Most historians consider the Lost Tribes as nothing but a myth, and DNA studies have found no evidence of any lost tribes. Yet their emigration to Israel is supported and sponsored by a non-profit organization that aims to reconnect "lost and hidden Jews" with the people and state of Israel. Skepticism and debate over their ancestry and faith abound in Israel and India, and view this as nothing more than opportunism, and a desire to improve their living conditions.

Bijoyeta Das is a journalist and photographer. She has reported from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and USA and holds a masters degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, and a photojournalism postgraduate diploma from Ateneo de Manila University.