Time to Rescue the Ethiopian RemnantPublished on: 14.10.2021
By: David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman
Civil war, other crises bring urgency to Airlift of Ethiopian Jews
As we ring in the new year, the ICEJ is taking on an urgent challenge – assisting with a wave of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews being brought home to Israel.
Aliyah flights for these Ethiopian Jews started in December and will take several months to complete. The costs per person for bringing them home to Israel is currently higher than normal, but the Israeli government has decided to bring them as soon as possible. And the Jewish Agency is looking to the ICEJ to support this urgent Aliyah effort as much as we can.
The Ethiopian Jewish community can trace their heritage back to Moses, who married an Ethiopian woman (see Numbers 12:1-10). Some 135,000 now live in Israel, but thousands more have been left behind in Ethiopia because their ancestors were pressured to convert to Christianity several generations ago. There are still some 8,000 of these “Falash Mura” stuck in rundown transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar – many now living there for up to two decades in impoverished conditions. They have nothing to go back to, and they simply refuse to give up on their dream of being reunited with their families back in the Promised Land.
After much debate and many delays, the Israeli government finally decided in 2015 to allow them to come home. But the process has been slow and now their plight has worsened due to several developments:
1) Malnourishment: Ethiopia is suffering from a prolonged drought which has impacted the entire nation. Jewish and Christian groups (including the ICEJ) have helped feed and care for the Ethiopian Jews left in transit camps, but many are malnourished and need to be relocated to healthier surroundings.
2) Coronavirus: Much of Africa has been spared by COVID-19 so far, but Ethiopia has seen a high rate of infections and deaths.
3) Locust plague: There are currently massive swarms of locust devouring the land across Ethiopia and East Africa.
4) Conflict: A civil war has broken out between Ethiopian government forces and a regional rebel militia, with fighting reported near the Gondar transit camps.
The sudden insurrection in neighboring Tigray has been especially concerning to Israeli officials, as several rockets recently hit the Gondar airport and one of the Jews living in the camps died in a nearby border clash. He had been waiting for 24 years to come to Israel to be reunited with his 84 year-old grandmother, who lives alone in Kiryat Gat. In addition, reports have now surfaced that a local youth militia recently massacred 600 members of non-Tigrayan tribes in one village alone.
Thus, this latest wave of Ethiopian Aliyah has become an urgent humanitarian mission!
The ICEJ has flown over 2,300 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel in recent years, including 384 olim in the year 2020 – despite the Corona travel bans. Now the opportunity is here to help bring home several thousand more Ethiopian Jews who are desperate to reach Israel. It’s time for us to act!
Please consider a generous donation to help these very deserving people re-join their families in the Jewish homeland. May the Lord bless you richly as you donate towards this very urgent and worthy cause!
Give towards our Ethiopian Aliyah efforts at: https://int.icej.org/ethiopia