I am writing in response to the opinion piece by Rabbi Shira Milgrom and professor David Elcott, “Don’t Abandon 2,500 Would-Be Jews In Ethiopia” (July 5).
As the writers point out, The Jewish Agency for Israel has been fundamental in bringing over 3 million new immigrants to Israel, including tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. The current and final phase of mass aliyah has brought more than 6,000 Falash Mura to Israel and will conclude at the end of this month.
The government of Israel determines who is eligible to make aliyah. The Jewish Agency facilitates the immigration process and prepares olim for a successful resettlement in Israel. In accordance with the government’s decision, the camp in Gondar will close at the end of this month once all those living in Gondar who are eligible for aliyah have immigrated to Israel.
That said, The Jewish Agency is by no means concluding its operations in Ethiopia. Our office in Addis Ababa will be open and our in-country staff will provide hands-on help to any eligible Ethiopians wishing to make aliyah to Israel. Further, regarding the claimants in Gondar, the government of Israel has set up an appeals committee to reexamine their aliyah eligibility. Of course our agency will expediently process any claimants found eligible.
Secretary General, The Jewish Agency Jerusalem