JERUSALEM, Israel - If everything goes as planned, more than 7,000 members of a lost tribe of Israel will soon call the land of their forefathers home.
Helping to facilitate this aliyah (immigration) is Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Yisrael, an organization devoted to helping "lost Jews" -- descendants of Israelites exiled from Israel centuries ago -- return to their biblical homeland.
For years, Freund has labored to bring the remaining Bnei Menashe (the sons of Manasseh) living in northeastern India to Israel. Many believe their forefathers -- the tribe of Manasseh, one of Joseph's two sons born in Egypt -- were exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 2,700 years ago.
"Just as the prophets foretold, Manasseh's children are at last coming back. And all one can say is: thank God," Freund wrote in his blog, Fundamentally Freund. Click here to read the blog.
The Bible says the patriarch Jacob blessed Joseph's sons, Menashe and his brother, Ephraim, including them in the patriarchal line of the 12 tribes of Israel.
"And now the two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." (Gen. 48:5)
On Monday, Freund briefed members of the Israeli governmental committee on immigration and absorption on the successful integration of some 1,700 Bnei Menashe, who immigrated to Israel earlier, into Israeli society.
An astounding 96 percent of the Bnei Menashe are employed, Freund told committee members. The majority of their sons chose combat units during their compulsory military service in the IDF -- Israel Defense Forces. Many are enrolled in colleges and universities; some have been ordained as rabbis, he said.
By anyone's standards, the Bnei Menashe have experienced an extraordinarily successful absorption into Israeli society.
"It is time for Israel to let the remaining Bnei Menashe come home," he told the committee.
What happened next Freund describes as a "miracle."
The committee, chaired by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, agreed to draft a resolution that would be presented to the cabinet for approval by the end of July.
"This means we are just one month away from an historic turning point, one that will restore 7,732 precious souls to the Jewish people," he said.
While there will be a few more hurdles to overcome, Freund asked "all people of faith and goodwill, Jew and Christian alike, to pray for this undertaking to succeed."
"Soon enough," he predicted," I am sure the Bnei Menashe will cross the sea, reuniting with the Land and the people of Israel after a remarkable journey."