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5 Things to know about the last Jews of Ethiopia

by heartofisrael
July 2, 2018

WHO ARE THE LAST JEWS OF ETHIOPIA?

The last Jews of Ethiopia are often referred to as the Falash Mura. These Jews converted to Christianity under pressure in the late 19th and early 20th century, but since returned to their Jewish faith and yearn to come and live in the Jewish state of Israel.

Although these individuals would not officially be entitled to citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return, in the past these Ethiopians have been given special dispensation to come to Israel and then obtain citizenship after undergoing a conversion process. Between 1977 and the mid-1990s, more than 80,000 Ethiopians immigrated to Israel with the help of the Israeli government.

In 2015, the government approved the aliya of the last 9,000 members of the community for the purpose of family reunification, the large majority of whom have parents, siblings or children in Israel who obtained citizenship during previous rounds of immigration. However, only a little more than 1,000 Ethiopians have been brought over since then and the rest remain in impoverished holding camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa.

Although the claim has not been substantiated, there are those who believe Ethiopian Jews are descended from the tribe of Dan, one of the 10 lost tribes.

The late Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruled that the Falash Mura are indeed Jews and should be brought to Israel. Later, several other rabbinic figures, including some Ashkenazic rabbis, made similar rulings.

WHY HAS THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT NOT YET IMMIGRATED THE LAST ETHIOPIAN JEWS?

In November 2015, the Israeli government approved the entry of the last Jews of Ethiopia, then totaling around 9,000 people. Additionally, in April 2016, a deal reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset members provided a budget to absorb these last Jews between 2016 and 2010, including the cost of transporting them from Ethiopia to Israel, converting them and providing them the needed support to integrate into Israel society.

A first small group of this new wave of Jewish Ethiopian immigration to Israel arrived in October 2016. Another small group came about a year later, in November 2017.

However, the government’s decision to bring all the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel has still not been fully implemented. It is unclear as to why the government has not taken action.

IN WHAT KIND OF CONDITIONS ARE THE LAST JEWS OF ETHIOPIA LIVING?

The remaining Jews of Ethiopia live in extreme poverty, surviving on $3 or less per day. Most families reside in small, one-room mud huts with no running water or basic sanitation. When they do have food to cook, they prepare it on wood or coal open fires.

Watch this video to learn more about the plight of the Ethiopian Jews:

 

WHY SHOULD JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND OTHER PEOPLE OF THE BIBLE CARE ABOUT BRINGING THESE JEWS TO ISRAEL?

The ingathering of the exiles is part of the process of redemption, as promised in Deuteronomy, and in many places in the Prophets (Jeremiah 29:14; Ezekiel 11:17; Isaiah 56:8; Psalms 106:47). And today, after 2,000 years, Jews are returning to Israel from literally every corner of the globe.

Immigration to Israel is called aliyah, literally translated as “rising up.” While sometimes Jews choose to move to Israel and can make this transition on their own, other times Jews need the assistance of others.

According to Scripture, the nations of the world have an important role to play in the return of Jews to Zion. We read in Isaiah 49:22, that the nations will “Bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.”

Supporting immigration to Israel of these last Jews of Ethiopia is another step towards the fulfillment of the prophecy.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP THE LAST JEWS OF ETHIOPIA?

There are two ways to help the last Jews of Ethiopia. One is by giving much needed funds to support the day-to-day living of the last Jews of Ethiopia and/or to support Ethiopian immigration to Israel. These funds can be donated through The Heart of Israel and will be distributed effectively.

In addition, you can sign our petition to bring the Jews of Ethiopia home. This petition, when we reach 10,000 signatures, will be shared with the government of Israel to put pressure on the Prime Minister’s Office and the Minister of the Interior to bring the last Jews of Ethiopia to Israel.