Unrest in Ethiopia puts Jewish community in life-threatening danger

by Phil Schneider

The Jewish Community in Ethiopia is a proud group of Jews who have lived there for thousands of years. Of all of the ingathering of Jews from the exile, the Ethiopian community is in many ways the most unique. First of all, nearly no Jewish group was less known than the Ethiopian community. There was even a debate as to the authenticity of their Jewish background. But in a landmark responsa, the Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ruled that the Ethiopian Jewish community is indeed a remnant of the ancient Tribe of Dan.

In 1984, the great drama of the rescue of tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews became a headline issue in Israel. Following weeks of trekking in the desert to unknown locations, thousands of Ethiopian Jews literally ran for their lives. Many did not succeed in getting on planes to bring them to Israel. They were turned back or stopped by warring sides of a terrible Civil War. This would come to be known as Operation Solomon. In 1991, this would be followed by another short rescue that brought thousands more to the Land of Israel. Nearly every single Ethiopian Jew who flew to Israel had never been on a plane before. For them, this was quite literally coming back to the Promised Land on the “Wings of Eagles.”

Today, the opportunity continues to rescue more Ethiopian Jews caught up in the crossfire. This is one of the most fundamental goals of the State of Israel’s existence, namely, to be a home for all Jews in need across the entire world. For the last 5-10 years, there has been a steady influx of Jews from France. They are looking for a brighter future for their children than the Muslim-filled France. Parts of the Ukraine have been mired in an on-again, off-again Civil War. Many Jews from the Ukraine continue to make their future in the Land of Israel also. This follows decades of Sephardic Jews from Arab Lands who have returned to the Land of Israel following centuries of exile. For some, the exile was a 2,000 year exile. Jews have returned from Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Lebanon. The present saga is yet another of a long line of proud accomplishments of the State of Israel.

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