Three private religious schools in Petach Tikvah will admit Ethiopian students. The agreement was reached hours before the start of the school year by the Education Ministry.
It was 1985, and many of the Ethiopian Jews who'd been airlifted from Sudan were being housed in a hotel in Netanya, Israel. When writer Sonia Levitin entered the temporary nursery, she was particularly struck by all the babies and toddlers who'd been born since their families had arrived.
Roughly 20 years ago, Sudan, whose western Darfur region has been engulfed in genocide for four years, watched another other tragedy unfold -- the deaths of thousands of Ethiopian Jews trying to escape to Israel via Operation Moses.
Most of the more than 20,000 Ethiopian Jews left in Ethiopia today are Falash Mura, people whose families were converted to Christianity about 100 years ago, but who still identify as Jews. The Israeli government for years has been wavering on whether they are real Jews and should be brought to Israel, even though most have family there. Today there are about 85,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, including about 20,000 who were born there.
The Nation And The World.
Increased pressure from officials of American Jewish organizations is driving preliminary talks on a new deal to bring thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel before famine takes a heavy toll on the community remaining in Ethiopia.
Coming on the eve of a federation-sponsored trip to Ethiopia, federation leaders, advocates for Ethiopian Jews, representatives of Jewish humanitarian groups and Israeli government officials met recently in Jerusalem to discuss new ways of expediting the emigration process for thousands of Falash Mura left in Ethiopia. The Falash Mura are Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity, often under social pressure, but who have resumed practicing Judaism and whose Jewishness is accepted by all three major Jewish religious denominations, including Israel's chief rabbinate.
Twelve Jews died in Ethiopia this summer -- two of famine, 10 of mostly treatable medical conditions -- and Dick Giesberg wants to know what it says about the Zionist imperative when the Israeli government refuses to expedite the immigration of a suffering Jewish community.
Natan Sharansky, Israel's interior minister, said he empathizes with the suffering of the 18,000 Ethiopians who have gathered at dusty transit camps, and he promised to streamline the process of applying for immigration to Israel.
As Israel enters its second 50 years, one sees elegant black faces almost everywhere in the country: in shopping malls and universities, in the army and in playgrounds.