This week marked the beginning of the end — the end of Ethiopian Jews’ millennia-old dream to settle in Israel.
Three decades after Operation Solomon, a covert Israeli operation, started to bring the first of thousands of the African country’s Jews to the Promised Land, Israel on Monday brought some 240 members of the Falash Mura, Ethiopian Jews whose forebears had converted to Christianity a century ago. They arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on a charter flight.
The flight was the first part of Operation Dove’s Wing, an initiative that will bring 160 Falash Mura a month to Israel, completing the aliyah process of all Falash Mura whom Israel considers to be Jews by Rosh HaShanah of 2013.
In recent decades, the Falash Mura have returned to their Jewish identities and started to adopt Jewish practices, most living at a Jewish Agency-sponsored camp in Gondar, northern Ethiopia.
In Israel, about 600 of the newcomers will stay at a Jewish Agency absorption center in southern part of the country.
The Ethiopian Jews who came this week were greeted by a festive ceremony that featured government officials and American philanthropic leaders.
About 120,000 Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel.