Apparently bowing to pressure, the government of Israel announced Sunday that it would resume checking 3,000 Ethiopian Falash Mura who claim they are entitled to make aliyah.
The action came after the government announced earlier this year that it would no longer carry out the mass immigration of Ethiopian Falash Mura, whose descendants had been forced to convert from Judaism.
Orlee Guttman, director of operations for the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, said the government decided to limit its checks to those Ethiopians who were previously registered and who had been living in Gondar, Ethiopia, for at least one year.
Israeli officials pointed out that since 1990 a total of 90,000 Ethiopian Jews and Falash Mura have immigrated to Israel.
Jerome Epstein, executive vice-president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, had called upon Israel to process the 8,700 Falash Mura remaining in Gondar. This week he said Israel’s move was a “tremendous step forward” but that he was still concerned about the thousands of others who would not be checked.
Until May when Israel decided to end the mass immigration drive, the UJC had been spending $68,000 each month to provide food and operational costs for the Falash Mura in Gondar. It is scheduled to meet this week to discuss the latest developments.