Ethiopian aliyah

For the first time since the early 1990s, a planeload of Jews from Ethiopia is scheduled to arrive in Israel this weekend.

In November 2015, the Israeli government approved the aliyah of 9,000 Ethiopian Jews after a halt in immigration from the African country for almost two decades. The first group of 64 among 1,300 is scheduled to arrive Sunday evening at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The approved immigrants are mostly being united with family already in Israel.

Ethiopia is currently experiencing an upsurge of violent anti-government protests, particularly in the Oromo and Amhara regions. Gondar, in the Amhara region, is home to the Ethiopian Jewish community.

“According to Amnesty International, at least 100 people have been killed in protests this summer, and Ethiopian authorities have arrested human rights activists and journalists, both local and international. The government has shut down internet access for all or part of the country in an effort to hinder protest organizers ability to amass large crowds,” Times of Israel reported.

Aliyah Largely Funded by Christian Embassy

A significant portion of the money for the operation to bring over the 1,300 Jewish Ethiopians is coming from the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, which has transferred NIS 2 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel and also plans to subsidize absorption costs.

The remaining 9,000 Jews in Ethiopia primarily consist of Falash Mura, the descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Christianity generations ago. Therefore, they are required to undergo conversion, as did many of the million or so Russian Jews who made aliyah in the 1990s.

Back in May, Kes Aviyahu Azariya, an Ethiopian spiritual leader in Israel, called on the Israeli government to monitor the immigration process from his native country, warning that among those approved are Christian missionaries, Arutz-7 reported at the time.

Azariya maintains that many Christians pose as Jews in order to come to Israel and proselytize.

According to a letter he sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several other government ministers, quoted by Arutz-7, “unfortunately, people who don’t even have a bit of information and understanding regarding Ethiopian Jewry are the ones who are deciding who is eligible for Aliyah and who is from Jewish roots.”

As a result, he continued, “Christian missionaries are making Aliyah to Israel and after a conversion to Judaism they return to Christianity. Those with Jewish roots have become a bargaining chip and hostages of organizations with a clear interest in bringing Christians to Israel.”

In a related historic development, two female Ethiopian-Israeli lawyers were appointed as judges last week. Adenko Sebhat-Haimovich was named to the magistrates’ court, and Esther Tapeta Gardi to the traffic court.

By: United with Israel Staff

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Source: United with Israel