Operation Solomon
Operation SolomonGovernment of Israel Press Office/Photo by Nathan Alpert

The Jewish Agency for Israel is marking this week’s 30th anniversary of Operation Solomon, which is the largest-ever individual aliyah (immigration to Israel) mission undertaken from any country in the world.

Within one weekend on May 24-25, 1991, more than 14,300 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted from Addis Ababa to Israel in the complicated operation, which involved 35 aircraft. At the time, Ethiopia was embroiled in a years-long civil war and was facing extreme turmoil.

The Jewish Agency along with the Government of Israel were the main players in planning and executing Operation Solomon, working alongside and supported by organizations including the Israel Defense Forces, the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, the Jewish Federations of North America (then UJA), and more.

American Jewry mobilized in support of the operation, raising $35 million in just a few hours to cover the payment demanded by the Ethiopian government.

“This milestone anniversary of Operation Solomon serves as a crucial reminder for Israel and global Jewry that all of the Jewish people are responsible for one another. It also shows, once again, that when the global Jewish people collectively rally together around a cause, nothing is impossible,” said The Jewish Agency's CEO Amira Ahronoviz. “As new crises will undoubtedly arise, The Jewish Agency is committed to continuing its historic role in supporting the global Jewish people in their time of need.”

In the weeks leading up to Operation Solomon, The Jewish Agency and the JDC oversaw the identification of those Ethiopian Jews who were eligible to make aliyah, issuing documentation to ensure that when the day arrived, family members would be kept together on their journey to Israel.