Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The lost tribe.

Did you know there are African Jews in Israel ?
They are sometimes called Falashas (outsiders) a name given by the non-Jewish Ethiopians. Their origin has been debated. One idea is that they are descendants of the lost tribe of Dan, another is that they are the result of a love-story between King Salomon and the Queen of Saba.
The Falashas lived in Ethiopia for thousands of years and managed, against all odds, to keep their traditions, respecting Shabbat and the kashrout.
The community remained fairly isolated until the 20th century when things started to get bad. The Ethiopian Jews where no longer allowed to own land and in the beginning of the 80’s the practice of Judaism became prohibited .
Schools and synagogues where closed and students put into prison. While the world mobilised for the hunger in Ethiopia (Band Aid, Live Aid etc) Israeli government put pressure on the Ethiopian government to release the Ethiopian Jews.
In a huge operation Israel, together with the CIA and the Sudanese state security forces secretly transported 14000 Jews directly to Israel from the Sudanese border in only 36 hours.
When the news leaked out in media, Arab countries put pressure on Sudan not to “give away” the Jews to Israel and 15000 got stuck in refugee camps or in Ethiopia. Years later these people were saved in the Joshua Operation and brought to Israel in a very bad shape.
Israel had now almost 1000 orphans with their parents still in Africa and a third Operation completed the Ethiopian immigration by bringing the parents of these children.
I’v seen a beautiful film about this called “ Go ,live and become” that I really recommend.
Today there are 70 000 Ethiopians living in Israel.

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