Government approves new aliya from Ethiopia

Decision will allow around 250 Jews from Ethiopia to arrive in Israel each month, some after waiting for more than 10 years.




In a drive to expedite what has been touted as the historic final chapter in mass aliya from Ethiopia, the government on Sunday approved an additional budget of NIS 17 million, which will speed up the entire process and also see the opening of a new absorption center here.

Ethiopian Jews (illustrative) - Photo: Ruth Eglash

Ethiopian Jews (illustrative) – Photo: Ruth Eglash

The goal is to ensure the arrival in Israel of some 2,200 new immigrants before the end of March 2014. All of those set to come here over the next two years have already been approved for aliya by the Interior Ministry. However, because of lack of living space here, most continue to live in dire poverty in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Many have been waiting to make aliya for more than ten years.

Sunday’s decision follows months of pressure and criticism from members of the Ethiopian community in Israel and their supporters worldwide about the slow pace of aliya from Ethiopia, despite an announcement in February that rate of aliya would be increased.

The most recent decision comes within the framework of a government declaration in November 2010 to continue the flow of aliya from Ethiopia, allowing roughly 8,000 to come to Israel within three years. To date, 6000 Falash Mura — Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago — have been officially approved for aliya and half of those have already arrived here. Hopefully, the new decision will now allow some 250 Falash Mura to arrive here each month.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar officially recognized the Falash Mura as part of the Jewish people in 2002 and they are allowed to make aliya under a special clause in the Law of Entry. However, upon arrival, the immigrants must also undergo a conversion to Judaism.


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