The Bnei Menashe community in the remote northeastern Indian state of Manipur began preparing for Passover earlier this week, including by baking matzah at the Shavei Israel Hebrew Center in Churachandpur.

The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling in what is now northeastern India, along the borders of Burma and Bangladesh.

Throughout their sojourn in exile, they continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals and following the laws of family purity.

Israel has helped more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe make aliyah in the past two decades.

Freund said “we hope that after 27 centuries of exile, the remaining 6,500 Bnei Menashe still in India will be able to celebrate Passover next year in their Jewish homeland.”