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Thousands of Ethiopian Jews still waiting to emigrate to Israel

Posted on 4/3/2014 by Ariel Rudolph in Falash Mura Ethiopian Jews Beta Israel immigration

According to the Israeli Ministry of Interior, en-masse aliyah from Ethiopia ended in the summer of 2013. In reality, there are still thousands of Ethiopian Jews in Gondar and Addis Ababa who are waiting to immigrate to Israel, says Avraham Negosa, a representative of the Ethiopian community in Israel.

For centuries the global Jewish community was not aware of the existence of the Ethiopian Jewish population. Their existence was discovered only in 1769, when the Scottish explorer James Bruce stumbled upon this isolated community during his search for the source of the River Nile. Although the authenticity of this community is still disputed, it is locally known under the name "Beta Israel”, which means the "House of Israel".

Despite centuries long isolation of the "Beta-Israel" from the rest of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, Ethiopian Jews have nevertheless managed to retain their adherence to Judaism. For several centuries, this community has been persecuted. They had no inheritance rights to land unless they converted to Christianity. They were enslaved and were forbidden to practice their religion. In the middle of the 20th century, under the brutal Ethiopian regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam about 2,500 Jews were murdered and 7,000 Jews who survived the genocide were uprooted and became homeless. It was only in 1977 that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin succeeded to persuade Ethiopian President Mengitzu to allow Ethiopian Jews to emigrate to Israel. The largest modern exodus took place during Operation Moses when more than 7,000 Jews were brought to Israel.

The massive rescue of Ethiopian Jews has lasted for four decades. Since the establishment of the State of Israel more than 125,000 Ethiopian Jews have been
repatriated to Israel.

By Ora Shapiro
Credit: Israel National News