Rabbis Call on Gov't to Fulfil Promise to Bring Falash Mura Home

A conference in Jerusalem Wednesday was dedicated to a call for bringing 8,000 members of the Falash Mura group from Ethiopia to Israel.

Ezra HaLevi,

Falash Mura Aliyah
Falash Mura Aliyah

A conference at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday was dedicated to a call for bringing 8,000 members of the Falash Mura group from Ethiopia to Israel.

The Falash Mura are Ethiopian Christians of Jewish descent. Thousands are awaiting the chance to immigrate to Israel in the Gondar transit camp.

Rabbi Menachem Waldman, an expert on the Ethiopian community who heads the Shvut Am organization, told Arutz-7 that the Falash Mura are "Jews by any definition."

Responding to claims that the Falash Mura were simply regular Christians seeking a better life, Rabbi Waldman said, “I am embarrassed to even respond to such a foolish statement like that. They were checked mother after mother. There was a phenomenon of conversion to Christianity there, but now they have returned to Judaism and live as Jews."

Rabbi Waldman said that the Ethiopian religious leaders, known as Kessim, along with both Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, have examined the subject and support bringing the Falash Mura to Israel.

The rabbi also dismisses claims that the 8,000 waiting in Gondar will soon transform into hundreds of thousands or even millions. “We are talking about a very specific group who was promised they would be brought by the Sharon government in 2003. On the basis of this promise they left their villages and camped in Gondar. At this time we are asking that this promise be fulfilled.”

Some Kessim Opposed in 2006
There are Ethiopian Jews who do not agree with Rabbi Waldman, however. A group of Ethiopian kessim and rabbis told a conference in Rehovot in 2006 that many of the Falash Mura conduct Christian missionary activity within the Ethiopian immigrant community. Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews attended the “Ending Missionary Activity in the Community” conference, claiming the Falash Mura have no desire to return to the Judaism of their ancestors.

“We came [to Israel] to be Jews,” said the community leaders. “We weren’t different from the Christians in skin color – we were different from them only because of our Judaism. The missionary activities have crossed red lines and could set the community aflame and cause bloodshed,” they warned.





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