Santayehu with Minister Ayelet Shaked
Santayehu with Minister Ayelet Shaked Spokesperson for the Struggle to bring Jews of Ethiopia to Israel

An Ethiopian Jewish teenager who travelled to Israel to take part in the annual Independence Day Bible quiz will be permitted to remain in the country even after the event is completed, despite having been initially required to put up a deposit to ensure he leaves the country.

Eighteen-year-old Sintayehu Shaparou, the sole representative of the Jewish community in Ethiopia to participate in this year’s Bible quiz, had been required to give immigration and border control officials thousands of shekels as a deposit to ensure that he would leave the country as required following this week’s quiz.

A member of the Falashmura community or “Beta Israel”, Shaparou and roughly 8,000 other members of the community in Ethiopia are descended from Jews who had converted to Christianity, often under duress.

While his father and siblings immigrated to Israel 17 years ago, Shaparou remained in Ethiopia, waiting for approval from Israel’s Interior Ministry to immigrate.

As a non-citizen, Shaparou was required to leave the country after his entry visa for the Bible quiz expired.

On Sunday, however, Hadashot reported that Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) had offered Shaparou residency status, permitting him to remain in the country even after the Bible quiz.

Last week, Naama Priner, who volunteered to teach children in Ethiopia and arranged for Shaparou to participate in the quiz, spoke with Arutz Sheva about the young man’s predicament.

"This is an 18-year-old boy living with his mother in Addis Ababa, and his father and seven other siblings are living here in Israel - a family which was torn apart. They live as a Jewish community in every way [in Ethiopia], so why can [Sintayehu] not stay in Israel?"

"Last summer I volunteered to teach Hebrew and Judaism in Ethiopia, and I noticed that the Bible is very important to them. Sintayehu teaches Bible in the afternoon and leads a study group for girls which deals with women in the Bible. We managed to arrange for him to come to Israel for tests ahead of the quiz and I am happy about that. "