Ethiopia’s Jews have been a priority for the Jewish Agency since the first major wave of Ethiopian immigration began in 1984 with Operation Moses and continued in 1991 with Operation Solomon. Today, Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant population is estimated at 120,000 – 15,000 of them children born in Israel.

In December 2010, the the State of Israel appointed the Jewish Agency to complete – over the course of three years – the immigration of Ethiopia’s approximately 8,000 remaining Jews (the Falash Mura) from the poverty, anti-Semitism, disease and instability characterizing life in Africa to a better life among their people, in Israel.

To meet this undertaking, the Agency assumed the operation of the Gondar facility, where they provide basic care and Aliyah preparation.

Their next challenge is absorbing these new immigrants – many of whom are illiterate and unfamiliar with Western life – into Israeli society. The current plan is to conclude Ethiopian Aliyah by 2014.

These images are from the photographic retrospective  It Takes a Village: From Gondar to Jerusalem – The Remarkable Journey of Ethiopia’s Jews – documenting the process of forgotten Jews taking the final steps along their journey home.

 

Women in prayer at the Jewish Agency's Community Center in Gondar; photo by Offer Dahan.

Children in the Jewish Agency's nutrition in program Gondar awaiting their daily breakfast; photo by Offer Dahan.

Parents are grateful for the ability to provide proper nutrition for their children; photo by Offer Dahan.

The school curriculum at the Jewish Agency’s day school is intense, but the students still enjoy themselves in their classrooms; photo by Offer Dahan.

Jewish cemeteries, such as this one near Woloka, preserve the Beta Israel legacy in Ethiopia and remind us that they too dreamed of returning to Zion; photo by Atalia Katz.

An Ethiopian Oleh’s possessions can usually fit in a single suitcase. The colorful basket seen here on the right, is one of the hallmarks of an Ethiopian home; photo by Atalia Katz.

Emigration papers are frequently the first official personal documentation that Ethiopian Olim have ever possessed; photo by Atalia Katz.

B’ruchim H’bayim; photo by Atalia Katz.

A woman kisses her loved one, quite possibly for the very first time; photo by Offer Dahan.

To arrange to bring the complete retrospective exhibit to your community contact Jill Goldsmith Bowen, jillg@jafi.org.
All images are copyright by the photographer.