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Arrival of Yemeni Jews 'Highly Significant' in Israel's History

03-21-2016

Arrival of Yemeni Jews 'Highly Significant' in Israel's History

Concluding what was called a "complex covert operation," the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency said it had secretly rescued some 200 Jews from Yemen during the last few years, including several dozen in recent months.

In this last round, a family of five arrived from the capital Sanaa (currently under rebel control). The husband's father was murdered in 2012 in an anti-Semitic attack, the Jewish Agency said.

Fourteen more Yemeni Jews arrived from Raydah, including the community's rabbi. The rabbi brought a Torah scroll with him that is believed to be at least 500 years old.

At the airport, he opened the scroll to the story of the Exodus from Egypt. He also said a Jewish blessing for special occasions.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky called the final arrival a "highly significant moment" in the history of Israel and immigration (known by the Hebrew word "aliyah").

"From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, The Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close," Sharansky said in a statement.

Most of the more than 51,000 Jews of Yemen immigrated to Israel during the secret Operation Eagles' Wings (also known as Operation Magic Carpet) in 1949 and 1950. American and British transport planes made about 380 trips to Aden to pick up the Jews of Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea.

The name "eagles' wings" comes from two scripture references in Exodus 19:4 and Isaiah 40:31.

"This chapter in the history of one of the world's oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry's unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel," Sharansky said.

Civil war in Yemen as well as an upsurge in attacks against Jews since 2008, have caused the Jewish community to feel in danger.

In 2008, a Jewish teacher was murdered Raydah. In 2012, another Jew was murdered in Sanaa and a young Jewish woman kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim.

There are about 50 Jews left in Yemen who have chosen to stay. The Jewish Agency said it would continue to help any Jew who wanted to come to Israel.

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