Among the 8,000 Ethiopians still waiting at camps for permission to make Aliyah to Israel — some for 20 years — 82 Jews of the Falash Mura community were brought to Israel on Monday and were finally reunited with their families.
The Falash Mura are a group of Ethiopian Jews who converted under pressure to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries, but maintained their Jewish customs and have since converted back to Judaism. According to Israel’s ministry of Interior, however, they are not eligible to make Aliyah.
But the Israeli government approved a plan to bring over the 8,000 (some estimates are 9,000) awaiting Aliyah who already have close relatives in Israel. In 2015, the Israeli government unanimously approved a plan to allow those found eligible to reunite with their families in Israel on humanitarian grounds. About two years ago, a group of 1,300 Falash Mura arrived in Israel, but sadly, the process slowed to a near halt in 2018.
Despite the Jewish Agency flight sponsored on Monday, for some it was too late. Zauditu Tanasa, 26, who made Aliyah to Israel alone eight years ago, was waiting for her mother. But Anakiya, 50, died of a serious illness a few days before the flight.
“I can’t stop crying,” Zauditu said. “My mother will not get to see her two grandchildren who were born here in Israel. My children were so excited to meet their grandmother here in Israel, but it won’t happen now.”