Why The Delay In Ethiopian Jewish Aliyah?
Tue, 12/27/2011

Imagine if during the emigration of Soviet Jewry, in the 1980s and ‘90s, it became known that Israel chose to slow the pace, for no convincing reason, of those coming out of a land of persecution and hardship seeking new lives in the Jewish state.

There would have been an outcry throughout the diaspora, accompanied by highly charged demands for speeding up the process, or at the very least, calls for an explanation for the change in plans.

Yet the recent decision by Jerusalem to delay for an additional year the deadline for the last remaining 4,500 or so Falash Mura approved for aliyah, who are seeking to reunite with more than 49,000 relatives and friends and settle in Israel, has attracted relatively little attention.

Despite an agreement reached in November 2010 between the Israeli government and a number of advocacy groups on behalf of Ethiopian Jewry to bring this last group out at a rate of 200 a month — so that everyone on a list determined to be Jewish would be out by March 2014 — the government has reduced the monthly number to 110, extending the completion date to March 2015.

“Making these people, many of them children, wait as long as three years to leave Gondar, under terrible conditions, is an appalling injustice without precedent in Israeli history,” says longtime advocate Joseph Feit of the North American Conference for Ethiopian Jewry, “not to mention the additional cost to Israel and the American Jewish community in supporting them.”

He charges that a government committee “seized defeat from the jaws of victory” by making the determination based on a possible shortage of beds in Israeli absorption centers. But the Jewish Agency for Israel and others say there is no shortage, that in fact there are more than 1,000 empty beds at the centers now and hundreds more expected to be empty in 2012.

Why the delay, then, and where is the call from an American Jewish community that has taken legitimate pride for its efforts to rescue the remaining Jews in Ethiopia?

The emigration of Ethiopian Jews has been filled with both pride and controversy. It has included dramatic moments of euphoria among Jews in Israel and around the world, most notably in May 1991, when in a 36-hour mission known as Operation Solomon, Israel flew more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to safety and a new home in the Jewish state. There was a sense that Israel was fulfilling its Zionist mission as a haven for Jews anywhere in the world, regardless of race or color. But since then, the continuing effort to bring the rest of the community out of lives of poverty, deprivation and periods of persecution has seen numerous delays, and disputes over the authenticity of their Jewishness. That applies particularly to the Falash Mura, who are Ethiopians with Jewish roots but who lived as Christians for many years to avoid persecution.

This last group of several thousand men, women and children has been approved by the Israeli government for aliyah eligibility and is regarded as Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate. We urge our readers to make their voices heard in speeding up, rather than stalling, the final chapter in the redemption of the last members of this ancient community in Ethiopia so that they can begin new lives in the Jewish homeland.  

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Comments

Shalom,i'm one of ethiopian jews and want to share u what's going on around us.but'd like u to give me the address of 'why the delay in ethiopian jewish' can u do that?

The Ethiopian and Arabian Jews got 100% realer stock,
Than any Yiddish speaking European could possibly have...Europeans don't even have a Semitic
Mother toungue...strange how the people who speak
Arabic which is Semitic and geez, which is similar
To the Semitic language family are considered questionable...sorry but Europeans have
No real cultural tie to the Semitic part of the world....
Yiddish is a made up language that uses Hebrew alphabet..its broken German...what's Semitic
About that....

That falasha and Arabian Jews are in our prayers

A wonderful editorial about a terrible, tragic situation.
Eastern European Jews by the hundreds of thousands were welcomed to Israel under the Law of Return-- even those who are proud Christians, feel very little loyalty to Israel, and import pork by the ton. Yet those recognized by almost all Jewish authorities as Jews, who love Israel and long to make aliyah and improve their Hebrew and serve in the IDF, languish in Ethiopia, checked one by one for their mothers' mothers' Jewishness (in a country where most people have no 'papers'; some of the Russians and Ukranians just counterfeit them). Wonder if there isn't a bit of racism in this disgusting difference in treatment? (And what about the Jews now left behind in Addis Ababa because they couldn't sufficiently prove their lineage? Kulanu is helping them, but they suffer).
I visited Ethiopia in 1999 and went to the refugee compounds in Addis and Gondar. Some of the people I saw in the North are STILL THERE!
For shame.

This is typical 'yellow journalism;' first you state: "...so that everyone on a list determined to be Jewish would be out by March 2014..." and then you write: "...where is the call from an American Jewish community that has taken legitimate pride for its efforts to rescue the remaining Jews in Ethiopia?" So, you automatically assume that ALL the Falash Mura are bona fide Jews when this is not clear at all. The Ethiopian Jews that were originally flown into Israel in operation 'Magic Carpet' were declared Jews by Rabbi Avadia Yoseph, then Chief Sefardic Rabbi, previous to their aliya and subsequent to thorough investigation. Perhaps instead of rousing the American Jewish community to act hastily in a matter not directly concerning them, you'd do better by encouraging them to transport their very own bodies, minds and money to us here in Israel, where they could then legitimately join us in pressuring our government to heed to their wishes.

The delay was caused by the lack of money for the mortgage assistance grants for the Ethiopians. Soon the rate will be increased to 150 per month.

i have been an avid follower of the migration of the etheopian jews back to israel for nearly 40 years. up to know i ahve marveled at the events that took place when in a couple of days thousands of the benei menasha where transported to israel. this is not the moment to tire of this task of liberation and return to israel.

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