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Welcome Home: 82 Ethiopian Jews Finally See Israel for the First Time

02-05-2019

JERUSALEM, Israel – More than 80 Ethiopian Jews entered Israel for the first time Monday evening, sparking joy and celebration.

They are the first of approximately 1,000 members of the Falash Mura community who were approved to enter Israel under a cabinet decision made last year. The Falash Mura are Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors were pressured to convert to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"After years of waiting, the dream of Aliyah has come true for 80 Ethiopian immigrants (Olim) who landed at Ben Gurion Airport tonight. This is the first group of immigrants to come from Ethiopia following the Israeli government's decision last October," The Jewish Agency for Israel wrote on Twitter.

Only Falash Mura members with family already in Israel are allowed to immigrate. They are allowed to bring their partners and any unmarried and childless children.

"The Operation Yehudith campaign to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel is a very moving moment, and all of Israel welcomes you," said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog at a special reception Monday night at Ben Gurion Airport.

Herzog added that the agency will help the new immigrants make Israel their home.

"The Jewish Agency will absorb, assist and accompany you for the next two years in everything that is needed in order to be able to successfully integrate into Israeli society, to build your home, your future, and the future of your family here in Israel," continued @Isaac_Herzog

There are approximately 7,000 Falash Mura members still waiting for their turn to arrive in Israel.

Representatives for the Ethiopian Jewish community are disappointed in the government's decision to bring only 1,000 of the Falash Mura community to Israel.

"We are happy that an end is being put to the suffering of 1,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community, but we are far from satisfied with this partial implementation of a decision," they told Kan in a statement. "The government and its leader chose to play with the lives of people, and arbitrarily chose 1,000 out of the remaining 8,000."

Because the Falash Mura converted to Christianity years ago, the Interior Ministry does not view them as Jewish. Therefore, they cannot immigrate under the Law of Return and must get special permission from the government to move to Israel.

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