Author Topic: Ethiopian Jewish History  (Read 1492 times)

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Ethiopian Jewish History
« on: September 17, 2007, 11:50:42 PM »
There is a legend that while King Solomon was King of Israel and he married The Queen of Sheba, they had a son named Menelik. The legend says that Menelik and other Jews were driven out of Jerusalem, up The Nile River to Ethiopia. However, Ethiopian Jews are most likely descended from The Lost Tribe of Dan. It is also believed by some people that they adopted Jewish beliefs around The 2nd and 3rd Centuries C.E.. After being in Ethiopia for a while, their skin changed from white to black, therefore becoming black Jews. They still have the same features as Semitic Jews but have black skin. For a while, they thought they were the only Jews in the whole World. The community calls itself Beta Israel, but Ethiopian Jews are also often referred to as Falashas, which means "strangers" or "immigrants" in the Ge'ez tongue, which is the classical literary and ecclesiastical language of Ethiopia.


Ethiopian Jews were eventually discovered by white Jews. Ethiopian Judaism was based on The Torah but did not include later rabbinic laws and commentaries, which never reached Ethiopia. Still, in The 16th Century, Radbaz, an Egyptian rabbi, recognized the Jewishness of Ethiopian Jewry.


In The 20th Century, Israeli and Jewish organizations provided help in education and welfare and later lobbied for Ethiopian Jews' right of emigration. In 1975, The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recognized them as Jews and ruled that they could immigrate to Israel. In 1984 and 1985, during The Ethiopian Civil War, The Mengistu Government agreed to allow Israel to airlift the community to Israel by way of Sudan. At that time, about 10,000 Ethiopian Jews went to Israel at that time in Operation Moses which airlifted them from camps in Sudan. Media leaks led The Sudanese Government to withdraw its cooperation, ending Operation Moses and stranding some 15,000 Jews. Only in 1991, when The Ethiopian Government was on the verge of collapse, did Israel airlift 14,163 more Ethiopian Jews in Operation Solomon. However, a group of them called Falash Mura were left behind because their ancestors converted to Christianity. They are now allowed to come to Israel if they convert back to Judaism. Since 1948, a total of 50,700 Ethiopian Jews have made aliyah to Israel. Ethiopian Jews continue to immigrate to Israel and those remaining in Ethiopia are coming to Israel slowly and slowly.


The religious life of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia is concentrated in Addis Ababa, where most of those awaiting eventual repatriation to Israel live. Within a central compound are located a synagogue, a vocational training center, and other facilities. In addition to Ethiopian Jews, there are also several dozen Adenite Jews residing in the capital. They have their own synagogue and burial ground, which is also used by The Falash Mura. There are still several hundred Jews living in rural villages in Gondar.