A Falash Mura social welfare compound in northern Ethiopia that closed last week, following threats against its local leadership, was reopened on Sunday, after its director was released from jail, according to Ethiopian Jewry activists. The facility in Gondar, which provides food and education for some 10,000 members of the Falash Mura community, "functions as before, without any change," said Avraham Neguise, general manager of the Jerusalem-based South Wing to Zion advocacy group.
Neguise said Getu Zemene, director of the compound run by a local Bete Israel Association and supported by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, was released from jail in Addis Ababa after 48 hours of interrogation by police, on bail of 400 birr (about $48). He was not charged with a crime, said his attorney, Amsala Tsehye. Supporters of the Falash Mura (descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity a century ago) claim that dissidents who have been denied permission to immigrate to Israel have attempted to disrupt operations at the Gondar compound, forcing the closing of a facility in Addis Ababa last year.
"The community is still in danger of the agitators trying to close the compound," said Orlee Guttman, NACOEJ chief of operations. A court hearing for Zemene will be held in two weeks, she said.