THOUSANDS OF ETHIOPIAN JEWS RETURN TO ISRAEL AFTER WAITING FOR DECADES
The Jewish Agency commenced the Rock of Israel program in an ongoing effort to help thousands of Ethiopian Jews join their Jewish families in Israel.
Picture: Flag of Israel
CBN News visited the only synagogue in Gondar, Ethiopia where, hundreds of Ethiopians, who consider themselves Jewish, attend regular prayer services. All want to go to Israel, and some have been in the process for 20 years or even more.
“The Jews in Ethiopia are internally displaced refugees. They left their villages on an average of 17 years ago in the hopes to get to Israel and they’ve been stranded since,” Jeremy Feit, President of SSEJ told CBN News. The Jewish Agency opened a center in Gondar in 1992 to process those immigrating to Israel. Currently, the agency is in the process of facilitating 3,000 Ethiopians to Israel this year.
“I feel the words of the prophets coming to life that 2000 years ago. Jeremiah and Ezekiel saw this. There was a united Israel with all of the tribes in Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed and the tribes were dispersed, and these prophets said, don't lose faith. They'll be reunited,” Eckstein told CBN News. Eckstein says her organization helps to bring around 5000 Jews home to Israel each year.
The origins of Ethiopian Jewry are unclear. Many believe that they are part of the biblical tribe of Dan, that migrated south during the time of the destruction of the First Temple whiles a fraction say they are descendants of the Queen of Sheba who reportedly bore a son for King Solomon. Regardless of the origin, the government of Israel has acknowledged them as Jews and has carried out several operations since 2015 to carry them into Israel.
Picture: Ethiopian Jews returning to Israel
Those who have successfully made the transition from Ethiopia to Israel expressed their joy and gratitude to the Jewish Agency and the partners.
“We’re so excited. We waited for long. I couldn’t describe really how I’m feeling. It’s really tremendously, amazing, extremely exciting. We’re all happy,” Biniyam told CBN News as he arrived. “We’re going to be reunited with all of our family members.”
At the airport, the new immigrants received their paperwork and a small amount of cash. From there were taken to centers where they’ll live for two years, study Hebrew, and be trained in Judaism as well as receive help in finding an apartment in Israel and a job.
Though it’s unclear how many Jews remain in Ethiopia, however the Jewish Agency and its Christian supporters stand ready to help fulfill God’s word to bring his people back home.