19 Jews from Yemen smuggled to Israel

Members of a group of 19 Yemenite Jews who were brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Credit: Arielle Di-Porto/The Jewish Agency for Israel.

(JNS.org) The Jewish Agency for Israel undertook what it called a “complex, covert operation” to smuggle out 19 Yemenite Jews and bring them to Israel.

"Nineteen individuals arrived in Israel in recent days, including 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sanaa," the Jewish Agency said in a statement, adding, "The group from Raydah included the community's rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old.” 

Yemenite Jews are considered to be part of one of the world's oldest Jewish communities. According to the Jewish Agency, there are 50 more Jews who have chosen not to immigrate to Israel and remain in Yemen, despite the fact that Jews have become increasingly targets of harassment and violence by Muslims in the country.

The Yemenite Jews who arrived in Israel brought with them a Torah scroll thought to be between 500 and 600 years old. Credit: Arielle Di-Porto/The Jewish Agency for Israel.

In 2008, Jewish teacher Moshe Ya'ish al-Nahari was murdered in Raydeh because he was Jewish. His widow and children moved to Israel four years later. In 2012, another Jewish leader in Raydeh, Aaron Joseph Zindani, was also murdered. His coffin was later brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency.

Zindani’s son, who was among the 19 Jews brought to Israel, told Israel’s Hebrew-language NRG news website that Israel “is our country. We have to come here. Today I finally felt that I am in country where I don’t have to be afraid. I stayed in Yemen until now because of the trial of the murderer of my father, who was stabbed to death in the market because he is Jewish. The trial hasn’t ended yet but I decided to leave. There is war in Yemen, there is no just trial and everything is bad.”

Jewish Agency sources cited the assistance of the American Jewish community in the endeavor.

“This is a relatively large group of people, so the decision to get them out was not easy,” a source told Yedioth Ahronoth, “but certainly the current situation in Yemen and the war contributed to the decision. We must thank the Jewish rabbis in the United States who worked to bring these Jews to Israel.”

Posted on March 21, 2016 .