(February 4, 2019 / JNS) In the aftermath of Israel approving immigration flights from Ethiopia, the first group of 80 Ethiopian newcomers will arrive on Monday evening on flights organized by the Jewish Agency and funded by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).
Israel has not offered the Falash Mura citizenship per the Law of Return due to the group’s members being compelled to convert to Christianity in the 19th century, despite closely preserving Jewish traditions.
Nonetheless, the Israeli government unanimously approved a process in 2015 to allow those deemed eligible to reunite with their families in Israel under humanitarian conditions.
This nearly stopped in 2018. However, Israel’s cabinet gave the green light last October to permit another 1,000 Ethiopian immigrants and, as requested by the Jewish Agency, the ICEJ agreed to fund their flights throughout 2019.
“The Christian Embassy is excited to be a partner with Israel in this latest wave of Ethiopian aliyah,” said ICEJ president Jürgen Bühler. “We know this is going to make a lot of Ethiopian Jewish families very happy to be reunited after such a long and difficult time of separation.”
“We also are encouraged that the Jewish Agency’s new chairman, Yitzhak [Isaac] Herzog, has expressed such strong support for the renewed Ethiopian aliyah,” he added. “This is continuing his great family legacy, as it was his grandfather Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, the first [Ashkenazi] Chief Rabbi of Israel, who gave the initial rabbinic approval in 1953 for the return of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community to the people and Land of Israel.”
Since its beginning in 1980, the ICEJ has helped more than 142,000 Jews worldwide make aliyah, and is considered “the largest global pro-Israel Christian ministry, with branch offices in over 90 nations and a reach into more than 170 countries worldwide,” according to a statement from the organization.