A group of eighty-two Ethiopian Jewish immigrants landed at Ben-Gurion Airport last Thursday evening (21 December), bringing to 1,200 the total number of Jews from the East African country which the Jewish Agency has brought to Israel over the past year on aliyah flights sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
A total of 1,300 Ethiopian Jews are expected to arrive by the end of January as part of the first year of renewed aliyah for this ancient Jewish community. The Israeli government’s initial plan called for bringing 1,300 members of the community per year until all of the remaining 9,000 Falash Mura in Addis Ababa and Gondar are reunited with their families in Israel. A cabinet decision is still pending to approve the budget and other aspects for the second year of renewed Ethiopian aliyah flights in 2018. Once approved by the Israeli government, the Christian Embassy stands ready to raise the funds need to sponsor this second year of renewed Ethiopian aliyah.
The ICEJ invested $1.2 million in Ethiopian aliyah this past year, including additional monies to assist with the critical absorption phase as these Jewish communities adjust to the new language and culture of Israel. Christians from all over the world have been contributing to this humanitarian cause, including generous donations from African Christians.
“The great ingathering of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel is still continuing and it is a real privilege and joy for our organization to play such a central role in this historic return to Zion,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, President of the ICEJ. “We know that these latest arrivals from the Ethiopia community will never be the same as they rejoin their families and become fully part of the modern miracle of Israel. Some of these families have been separated now for over two decades, and so it a special honor for us to help bring them back together here in the Jewish homeland.”
In total, the Christian Embassy assisted more than 3,000 Jews to make aliyah in 2017, including from Ethiopia (1,200), Russia (1,100), Belarus (800), Ukraine (70), and India (50), among other countries. Since its founding in 1980, the ICEJ has helped nearly 140,000 Jews return to their biblical homeland, or roughly ten percent of all Jews who have made aliyah in that time period.
This represents an investment of over $50 million in aliyah efforts, with most of the assisted Jewish olim coming from the former Soviet republics but also thousands from Western Europe, North and South America, the Bnei Menashe from India, and the Kaifeng Jews from China. All of these efforts have been made in close coordination with the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod.