The prophet Isaiah talks about the Jews in the whole world when he unfolds the plan of the Lord: “I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west, I will say to the north: Give them up! And to the south: do not hold them back, bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…” (Isaiah 43:5,6)
Today Jews from the whole world come to Israel, to their Home. From the east and west, north and south. Today there is a special focus on the Jews from the south, in Ethiopia, Africa. In 1984 preparations were made in deepest secrecy to bring 7,000 Ethiopian Jews (called Falashmura) via Sudan and Europe to Israel, under Operation Mozes. In 1991 the world’s attention was captured by Operation Salomon, in which 36 planes brought 15,000 Falasha’s to Israel within 36 hours. During this operation 7 babies were born. And in the summer of 2005 the last phase of the aliyah of the Falashmura commenced: within only 2.5 years the last group of Falashmura’s – 20.000 people – will be brought to Israel. The Falshmura are originally Jewish, but were forced a few decades ago to convert to Christianity.
Far in the south of Israel plans were made to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel through the operation Moses. In the deepest secret preparations were made to bring 7,000 Ethiopian Jews (called Falasha) via Sudan and Europe to Israel. And suddenly they were there – surprising the whole world. In May 1991 something similar happened. The arrival of 15 000 Ethiopian Jews in the Operation Salomon drew the attention of the whole world. Within 36 hours, 36 planes took each 1,250 young and old Ethiopian Jews to Israel. During this unique operation seven babies were born. A twelve year old Ethiopian Jewish girl lives in Safed, in the north of Israel. “I am born in Israel,” she says, “but my older brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. We belong to the tribe Beit Israel, which means House of Israel. And this is how we Ethiopian Jews call ourselves. Until a hundred years ago nobody outside Ethiopia had heard of us. I go to school together with many other Ethiopian and Israel children. There they call me by my Hebrew name, which is Lidor, but when I am at home, my name is Elimove, my Ethiopian name. I always ask my parents to tell me a lot about Ethiopia and the journey to Israel. My mother says that in Ethiopia we were always called Falasha, which means ‘outsider’. That is because we are different from other Ethiopians. We were considered strangers. We always remained individuals and kept the Jewish commandments.”
Lidor (or Elimove) is born in Israel, but many other children come directly from Africa and have had to integrate into Israeli society. Instead of their own language they have to learn two new languages, Hebrew and English. They have to learn a profession to earn their money. Somebody who experienced this is Rabbi David Portowicz of the Jaffa Institute in Jaffo (near Tel Aviv), Beth Shemesh and Jerusalem. Portowicz: “In our institute we have had about thousand children from Ethiopia. Here they receive full schooling. A few years ago we got 28 boys who came right from the rural villages in the desert of Ethiopia. We gave them some basic history, to understand that the society is much more advanced in Israel. But at the same time they had to learn what it means to go shopping, or to go to a bank or a post office. As big as they are, they are often for the first time in their lives in a school. But what does it mean to sit in a class? What does it mean, paying attention, remember, write things down, and being able to retrieve it? Doing homework? Some of them have never seen a book, or a calculator, or a computer in their lives. Nevertheless some of them changed in a few years from a simple shepherd into a computer-specialist! And while you are reading this, still thousands of other Ethiopian Jews are coming home. Their family demonstrated in 2005 in front of the house of the prime minister in Jerusalem, shouting (3,000 people): “Father!”, “Mother!”, “Brother!”, Sister!”, to show that they were tired of waiting for their families in Ethiopia, and to ask the government to enlarge the number of Falashmura coming to Israel from 300 to 600 monthly. They succeeded, and by the end of 2007 the families will be complete. These people are known as Falashmura and are from origin Jewish. Many years ago they were forced to convert to Christianity. Most of them – not all – still are. The board of Christians for Israel decided to support this project financially, together with other Christian organisations in the west. Join us!