Welcoming Ethiopian Olim

By: David Parsons, Vice President & Senior Spokesman

Join the urgent efforts to bring Jews home from Ethiopia, India and Russian-speaking lands

This is turning into an amazing year for Aliyah. Over 18,600 new Jewish immigrants arrived in Israel in the first quarter of 2023 alone. That is a jump of 24% over the same period in 2022 – which was already the best year for Aliyah in over two decades. But the excitement over rising immigration to Israel is also tempered by concerns over several crises around the globe now driving the increase in Jews returning to their ancestral homeland.

Much of this surge in immigration to Israel has been sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the 15 months since that conflict erupted in February last year, over 100,000 olim (newcomers) have landed in Israel – more than 80% of them Russian-speaking Jews.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been actively involved in this urgent Aliyah, sponsoring hundreds of flights for Jews coming from Ukraine, Russia, the Baltic states and other former Soviet republics, while also assisting with rescue efforts in Ukraine, especially of elderly Holocaust survivors, as well as the critical integration phase for these war refugees.

So far this year, supporters of the Christian Embassy have funded nearly 1,000 Aliyah flights while also helping us assist another 1,500 Jewish immigrants with other stages of their move to Israel. This includes the ICEJ sponsoring a planeload of 155 Ethiopian Jews who arrived in March.

The Ethiopian Aliyah also is turning into a case of emergency Aliyah once more, as is the return of the Bnei Menashe community from northeast India.

Ethiopian Aliyah slowed by conflicts, delays
In 2015, Israel’s government decided to resume the Ethiopian Aliyah by agreeing to bring a final 9,000 members of this ancient Jewish community still stuck in transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar. So far, some 6,750 of these eligible immigrants have been flown to Israel, with the ICEJ sponsoring roughly half of those flights.

However, the Ethiopian Aliyah has often been slowed by unforeseen circumstances both in Israel and Ethiopia, such as the repeated elections in Israel, the coronavirus pandemic, and drought, famine and civil war in Ethiopia.

Welcoming Ethiopians

Recently, the Jewish Agency for Israel started bringing the next 1,000 Ethiopian Jews as part of its “Rock of Israel” airlift, with the ICEJ welcoming 155 of these newcomers on our latest sponsored flight in March. But Ethiopia’s government then stopped more flights due to the sudden civil war in neighboring Sudan. That delay is now over, and JAFI hopes to bring the rest of this group in coming weeks, while more of the remaining Ethiopian Jews could come over the next year or so.

However, latest reports indicate riots between Muslims and Christians have broken out in the Gondar region where many of these Ethiopian Jews are still living, and three men waiting to make Aliyah to Israel were just shot and killed – innocent victims of the spiraling violence. Another Ethiopian Jewish boy was wounded. Thus, the Israeli government is facing pressure to take urgent action by bringing the last Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

With your support, the Christian Embassy can be there to help bring these Ethiopian Jews home. We are giving high priority to meeting this urgent need and trust you will join us!

Bnei Menashe in sudden crossfire
Meantime, there are similar reports of recent clashes between Hindu and Christian tribes in northeast India that are endangering the Bnei Menashe community – who like the Ethiopian Jews have been recognised as “Sons of Israel” and thus are being allowed to make Aliyah.

Over the past decade or so, several thousand members of the Bnei Menashe community, a remnant of Chinese Jews who claim descent from the tribe of Manasseh, have immigrated to Israel. The ICEJ has assisted with many of their flights. The remaining community of around 5,000 Bnei Menashe are still awaiting permission to make Aliyah to Israel, but the ones in the Manipur region are facing violent attacks from Hindus lashing out at the Kuki ethnic minority, which consists mainly of Christians but also this small Jewish remnant.

Bnei Menashe caught in the crossfire

Caught in the crossfire of this ethnic/religious conflict, several Bnei Menashe have been killed and at least ten more are missing after fleeing into the forests. Two of their synagogues have been burned, and up to 180 Bnei Menashe families have lost their homes and belongings in the widespread fires and looting. Hindu rioters have even been heard yelling at them: “Go back to Israel where you belong!”

There are urgent calls in Israel for the government to rescue the Bnei Menashe from the midst of these violent riots in India, and plans are being drawn up to bring many of them over the coming months. The ICEJ stands at the ready to help with the soon return of this ancient Israelite community to the Land of Israel, which they have longed to reach over many generations. So, please partner with us in the urgent Aliyah of the Bnei Menashe.

The Time to Act is Now!
Whether it is the Russia-Ukraine conflict, religious riots in Ethiopia, or ethnic clashes in India, now is the time for Christians to stand with the Jewish nation and people by bringing these sons and daughters of Israel home as soon as possible.

Over the coming weeks and months, the ICEJ will be engaged in pre-Aliyah activities, ground transportation, rescue flights and urgent integration of Jews from Ethiopia, India and the former Soviet republics. We invite you to be a part of helping to regather these Jewish communities in Israel.

Please give towards the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts today! Donate at:  give.icej.org/aliyah